Traveling solo can be intimidating, scary and risky.
Most importantly, though, traveling solo can be one of the most eye-opening experiences. Here are 10 tips to help make your first solo traveling experience a full-on success.
1. Do your research.
Before you go to a new place, make sure to do your research. This sounds fairly obvious, yet there are still so many people who seem to just wing it. Be thorough and look into where you're going. Check out the surrounding area, bars and restaurants you want to try out, excursions you want to do, prices for basics like food and drink, local customs and local language, etc. You can never be too prepared when traveling alone.
2. Save, save, save.
I'm talking about really saving here -- not just spending your money as usual and taking your last paycheck with you. Decide how much you can spare from each paycheck and start taking it out. If you're traveling with someone and run out of money, you can (hopefully) count on them to spot you. If you're on your own, you're literally on your own.
Figure out how much you will need and double it. It's better to have more than you need and be able to bring some back with you than to run out. Also, make sure to call your bank and let them know where and when you're traveling, so they doesn't freeze your card.
3. Break up with your comfort zone.
Whether it's with food, excursions or the location, there is no one to stop you from doing what you want, so do it up. I firmly believe you should do something each trip that makes you face your fears. This past year, I traveled to Spain alone and killed two fears with one jump. That's not the expression, I know. But, I conquered my fear of both boats and open water by going on a boat into the middle of the ocean and taking one big, terrified jump. So actually, my expression was clever AF.
Climb Mount Everest, go on a safari in Africa, cuddle up with some Tigers in Thailand, eat alone at a cafe and take it all in -- there are so many options. Enjoy all of the opportunities that will come your way and take full advantage of them.
4. Make sure you have a form of contact.
Keep those back home updated and at ease by making sure you take a phone or computer with you. Warning: Your mom is going to want a call every 42 seconds. Look into international plans with your provider, or even pick up a pay-as-you-go phone.
Try to set a certain time to check in by each day, and make sure to set your alarm so you don't miss it. If you're traveling into a different time zone it will be more difficult, but still try to update the loved ones you need to.
5. Don't be afraid to trust locals, but don't be too naïve.
Prior to my first solo trip, I had so many people warn me to stay to myself and not trust anyone. Well, that ended quickly after my first day. Here is my advice to you: Be conscious of your surroundings. If someone is shady, get yourself away from the situation. Don't tell people where you're staying. Don't accept drinks from strangers (obvi), and try not to walk to a lot of places alone at night.
With that being said, here is more advice: Talk to people. Do group excursions and make friends with fellow travelers. Don't be afraid to strike up conversations with strangers. It's a great thing to have friends from all over the world, and you'll never know who you'll be able to connect with.
6. Do excursions that will immerse you in the culture of the country.
Take advantage of being able to learn more about a different culture and set yourself up with some fantastic excursions. Try a walking tour (or Segway because they're absurd and fun AF). You'll be able to see so much in one day. Doing guided tours will help you fully learn about the past, present and future of the country in ways you wouldn't be able to do without a history book.
7. Don't ruin your trip by constantly looking for souvenirs.
This is my biggest pet peeve when traveling. Enjoy your time without having to constantly worry about finding gifts for an army. It's stressful, and it's taking from money you should be spending on yourself. It's one thing if someone gives you money for something specific, but if not, learn to stand up straight and say no. If your friends and family love you, they'll understand. When all else fails, everyone loves a cheap shot glass.
8. Selfie sticks are ridiculous, but they're also your best friend.
One of the best things about traveling with others is they can take some artsy, Insta-worthy shots of you. Instead of asking a stranger, invest in a selfie stick and own the shit out of it. Yeah, so what if it's absurd? You'll feel worse when you look back and realize you have no photos of yourself standing in front of the world's largest castle in Prague.
9. Ease yourself in with some group tours.
If you're still nervous about traveling alone, take some baby steps and start with a guided group tour. This way, you aren't completely alone, but you'll still feel independent. Plus, you'll learn more and make some friends while you're at it! #Winning.
10. Don't be afraid to get lost.
Getting lost is half the fun. Sometimes, you end up in the most magical places you never would have known existed. Don't be afraid to get dropped off in a different part of a city each day. Or, just go out and walk around for hours and see where it takes you.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of solo travel to gain a sense of independence. Solo travel tests you on an entirely different level. You are completely responsible and you have no one to lean on but yourself. Travel feeds the soul. Travel wise, travel far and travel so much that you find yourself.