My first solo trip and no idea where to start!

hOW TO ORGANIZE MY FIRST SOLO TRIPMany times I have heard this same kind of comment, from my friends, family and readers on this blog or from my social media.

I have no idea where to start planning my trip!

Perhaps the most difficult part about doing your first solo trip is to make de decision to do it,

and when you decide you’re going to do it then it comes to your mind all those details – small and bigger ones – that begin to overwhelm your head.

Yeah, I’ve been there too! I remember my first solo trip to South America…lonely and long hours, days and weeks of planning. At that time there was not too much information available as today, were the times of the early internet boom (yes, that old I am!) and a very few blogs about South America speaking about travel, telling personal experiences and sharing travel tips, less about solo women traveling alone!

One was my first trip outside Chile was to Peru and Ecuador, I traveled for a month and has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. After that trip I discovered that one of my great passions in life is travel, I discovered that it was possible and wanted to continue traveling the world.

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Today, planning a trip is still a pleasure – and even more and enjoying the enormous amount of information available – when looking information about the destination I want to travel. It is something I do for those who ask me for help and do not know how to organize themselves (not free) and that I love to do!

It has always been my favorite traveling alone.

Perhaps because my personality type, I can organize myself and be very comfortable with doing solo travel, I can decide where I go, what I want to eat (and when), or I want to do without asking anybody.

I am one of those that does not complicate with going alone for a movie or to have dinner if that is what I want to do, or to sit for hours in a coffee shop to write, read or people watch (yes, am one of those thick clients that are settled for hours in coffee shops, but I drink LOTS of coffee)

I love to walk the streets of a city I go for first time, knowing that I am a complete stranger, not knowing what awaits me around the corner. In my recent trips I often leave the first hours or days at a destination to go without seeking a specific place, but just walking and feeling the vibes of the place.

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So, how do I organize my first solo trip?

The first thing you should put on your to-do list would choose the destination, even as silly as it sounds, it is important to know a bit about where you want to go, so you can find out in advance if there are special things to prepare or know about that destination.

Passport or ID Card

Perhaps the first thing you should consider when planning a trip to a different country is to make your passport request OR if you already have yours you’ll might check that this has a minimum of 6 months expiring date after you enter the destination.

There are countries among which you can travel only with an identity card – as it is for residents of South America – and for others you’ll need your passport and even a special tourist visa.

I always like to travel with my passport because (in addition to the stamp) is the record of your entrance dates and specially in South America you’ll not just have the piece of paper they give you at international police that is very easy to lose and can cost a large fine.

Always keep a digitized copy of all important documents on your email 

Visa and permission to stay

Definitely not something you should leave to the last-minute is the Visa topic.

There are countries you must apply with long time in advance from your departure and to follow the procedure to apply for permits to stay as a tourist can take longer that you think for some countries.

Check here how to get your Tourist Visa to India from Bangkok, Thailand

Tickets

Buying your tickets is certainly often the largest cost you will have for your trip. Depending on the route, your destination and origin, I always recommend searching and checking many options before deciding to buy your tickets.

There are destinations that need you to have an exit ticket to get your Visa, but there are others who accept to enter the country with a one-way ticket.

Prices can change a lot from one airline to another, and from one destination to another, also you’ll want to take a look to the low-cost airlines that exist in various areas such as Europe, Asia and Brazil.

Look very carefully where ever you buy your tickets and go with any reliable agency or directly with the airlines, which is where I’ve usually found the best prices.

You can use search engines to syndicate several airlines and compare prices, but when buying my ticket I always prefer to do it with the airline with which I will travel.

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How to know what should I pack?

The time of year is essential to help you decide what items will go with you.

Weather strongly influences what you need on your trip, e.g. a trip to a warm weather destination is much easier to organize in terms as you will probably wear very light and few clothes!

And here the second major dilemma: Suitcase or backpack? (I’ll talk more on this in a future article!). What to choose it largely depends on whether you will go to a city or a beach, if you feel more comfortable dragging your suitcase or carrying your backpack. If you have any health problems that keep you from bearing weight, we are clear.

Either if you carry backpack or a suitcase the most important advice I can give you is: Think 10 times if you really need each item you wanna take with you!

Probably you will not need it…and if in doubt, you don’t really need it anyway.

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Plagues & Diseases

It is extremely important to know whether the destination ask for specific vaccines before you go, there are certain countries that ask you for your vaccination certificate to enter, or if you come from a country with an active vector carrying a disease they may also ask for it when checking your passport.

If you go to a destination where you know there is an active virus transmitted by a mosquito, you should take care to apply yourself repellent if you do not want to spend part of your trip sick or at the hospital.

Meds and Health Insurance

It is very important to travel with health insurance, if you become sick in a foreign country can be very expensive if you do not have a proper one. Always carry your prescriptions of any drugs plus a carry a scanned copy just in case you lose it or need to buy some more.

Hotel or Hostel?

Choose in advance whether you want to stay in a Hostel or a Hotel (might want to stay in a Poshtel? Check more about them here). Perhaps the main difference is that in a hostel is much easier to meet other travelers who are also willing to make new friends, go around the city together or simply sharing dinner with someone else.

A Hostel is usually cheaper than a Hotel, and there are even shared dormitories for 4 or more people.

Always carry one or more locks to use in your backpack and lockers to store your valuables, especially if you sleep in a dormitory.

There are also communities where travelers can contact others who want to share the road with you, organize events in the city or even to stay for free in their home, as it is Couchsurfing. (Here I tell you more about how it is to travel through Couchsurfing)

Your safety is ALWAYS first

I can assure you that what you will hear the first if you’ve never traveled alone is things like:  Are you sure you will travel alone?But it’s so dangerous! Why not better take an organized tour?

I heard that kind of phrases so many times, but if you are convinced about you really want to do this trip do not listen to those who try to dissuade you from your idea. You are the one who knows what you need to do and the reasons to do it more than anyone else.

However, always be careful and please try to avoid bad experiences you’ll never forget. While I have the conviction that there is much more good than bad people in the world, scams and similar issues happens and travelers as well as anybody in the world are exposed to dangerous situations to avoid.

By example, my rule #1 when I’m traveling is NEVER get drunk if I’m solo traveling.

You can read my Guide to solo female travelers here and more advice around this topic

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Chances are you will meet many other travelers who are in the same path, fulfilling the dream of getting to that magic place. Travelers also go with an open mind, willing to listen and meet others so it’s easy to meet people on the road but always follow your intuition.

For example, thanks to these meetings with fellow travelers, when I went to Dharamsala in India I met a nun and found out that the Dalai Lama will be giving a lecture the next day … and he even was taking his time for pictures with the attendees! Pure magic!

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One of the most important things to keep you safe while traveling is to trust your instincts

If you notice a bad vibe or think something is wrong or could be, that plan to party that night does not sound too safe, you can always kindly say no and nothing will happen! To the case, you’re the wiser as to your person and your safety.

 

These are basic things you can count on to start planning that trip you’ve always dreamed of, I hope it will help you and have a wonderful first solo trip!

Nomadic Chica

Gloria, the Nomadic Chica, is a native of Santiago Chile. Growing up dreaming of travel and international exploration, Gloria set out to make her dreams come true. Having traveled through Asia, Europe, and South America, Gloria has a wealth of travel knowledge and experience to share. NomadicChica.com was created to inspire others to travel and empower solo female travels with knowledge. Follow Gloria as she brings the world of travel to you.

37 Comments:

  1. Great advice! Definitely the hardest trip to make.

  2. I am trying to gain the courage to travel alone after I graduate from undergrad this May. I really want to see the world and I feel like it’s the perfect time. I’ve been to Thailand and Europe but always with group. It’s kinda a silly question, but do you (or anyone else) have tips on how to get my parents on board? Not that I need their permission per say, but I don’t feel as comfortable going if I know they are against it.

    • Hey Rachel!
      Many thanks for your message. I also think it’s the perfect time right before working full time to see the world a bit, it will open your eyes! About your parents….I think it all depends on how you’re able to explain them WHY you don’t feel like going with more people. I think solo travel is very rewarding to everybody and should try it at least once in life. It will put you on a total different perspective than a group travel…they want you safe and normally worried about you, so maybe make a plan to stay connected as well might help 😉 Cheers!

  3. Great tips and reflections. I recently travelled solo for the first time and it was quite the eye opener. I do much prefer travelling with my husband but loved the challenge and enjoyed it too.

  4. Solo travel is the best! Great tips here for newbies 😊

  5. Chica, coming from such a beautiful country as Chile and moving around and capturing India, you have the best of both worlds. Me encantaron tus articulos y los fotos. Felicidades.

  6. Great comprehensive post. I’m not a solo traveler but really commend those who did it alone.

  7. I love my solo travelling … I don’t need to compromise where to go, what to do…. Solo travelling in definitely way to go

  8. What a great and informative post! I love the idea of traveling solo but also joining up with other solo travelers to socialize to break things up.

    • Many thank’s and totally agree Alexis! A good balance is great plus being solo traveling it is an amazing excuse to meet new people, specially if they other solo travelers. I’ve never being totally alone for many days on my trips as I always meet new people going in the same way 😉

  9. Great tips! I have never traveled alone though! Nice article

  10. Haha, I am not that much of a die hard solo traveler 😉 I went to Myanmar beginning of 2014 – alone. But I’d been there already the year before. It was an amazing experience though! You really meet people and see the world in a way you’d never do when you are with your travelbuddy or a group 🙂

    • Ooh I really want to go to Myanmar! I’m glad you had a great experience and totally agree with you, it is different than traveling with a buddy or group, I appreciate both and as I’m growing up I think I’m becoming more tolerant so I can even handle groups, lol 😛

  11. Some good points here for first time solo travelers. Oh and it’s amazing you have a photo with the Dalai Lama! How many people can say that?!

    • Thank you very much! Ooh and about the picture, I still don’t believe it until I look at it again. I can say at least there were around 1000 people that day who had a the same picture with Dalai Lama, heheheee 😛

  12. I love traveling solo as well. I never heard of poshtels so I’m gonna look into that!!

  13. Great advices! I travel with my buddy, but I’m hoping to do a solo travel one day in the future. I’m sure it’s a lot more work to arrange everything and research many things on my own, but knowing my personality – I’m very organized person and love to research.

    • I think even if you have your buddy it is always great to make a solo trip once in a while, it gives you a totally different view of the road and despite being more work on the details it can be a great life experience.

  14. Great posts, I think it is always really brave to travel solo!
    Simone | The Aussie Flashpacker

  15. I always try to convince my friends that it is okay to travel solo. Eventually you will like it. I was scared to in the beginning but now I don’t mind at all. This article I can forward to them possibly inspiring young people to go travel 😉

    • Hi Karla! I guess everybody is little bit scared after the first solo trip, it is the unknown and going to a journey you have no idea how it will be. I wish this can inspire some of your friends on not be scared and try it! 😉

  16. A really great recollection of things you have to consider for the first solo trip, I am sure many people will appreciate this!

  17. The first time is always hard, but once having travelled alone it’s difficult with a buddy again 🙂 Your article is a great guide in how to do it and how to organise it. Thanks for sharing!!

    • Many thanks Sabine! I can agree with you that it is not always easy to find a buddy, but it happens sometimes too. I can do it if we are alike o if they let me plan everything and go with me on the road and follow my plans hahaahaa

  18. Some great tips here even for non-solo travel!

  19. You narrowed it all down so perfectly. Especially safety!! As much as I love winging it and playing with spontaneity, research is so essential especially for female solo travelers. It’s just smarter that way, to have at least the basic and general knowledge about where you’re going. Traveling solo is definitely one of my favorite. After experiencing it, I feel like I can’t go back to traveling in groups anymore.

    http://www.girlunspotted.com

    • I love to be spontaneus and not plan a lot, but I agree that it is smart to make little research and check if the destination we are choosin might need some extra care from our own. My favorite thing is to solo travel too and have had great experiences in all this years. Group travels can be fun too when we find a group we can rely and have fun with 😉

  20. Very inspiring! I have never traveled alone, except for work, which does not really count in my book. Although I love to travel with my family, I think it would be very liberating to travel solo, and I love all your tips! Thank you! Happy Travels

    • Hey Michelle! Many thanks for your thoughts. I think it all depends on our taste, it might be really cool to be able to travel with your family and share the great and the bad things that happen on the road. Happy travels to you too!!

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