The Beginner’s Guide to Planning Your Solo Trip

Photo Courtesy: Kar-Tr/iStock

Have you ever wondered about going on a vacation by yourself? Solo travel is experiencing a boom, and there’s never been a better time to head off on a solo adventure. From choosing a dream destination to sharing the highlights once you’ve returned, here are things to consider before and during your solo trip.

Before Your Solo Trip

Decide Where You Want to Go

ADVERTISEMENT
Photo Courtesy: kitzcorner/iStock
ADVERTISEMENT

Your solo trip starts with choosing a destination. With no one else signing off on this decision, you can truly indulge your own interests and desires. Start by looking at the latest recommendations from your favorite bloggers, websites, and travel magazines. Don’t discount a return visit to a past vacation spot either – traveling solo will give you a fresh perspective. 

Not sure where to begin? Get some inspiration from sites like Travelpicker, punch in some of your preferences, and you’ll get ideas back. 

Know What You Want Out of the Solo Trip 

Every trip you take feels unique. Ask yourself what you need from this trip: is it rejuvenation and relaxation after a busy time at work or a deep dive into an ancient civilization that has caught your imagination?

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

If you’re looking for beaches by day and clubbing by night, destinations like Ibiza and Miami are ideal. Your passion for fine art might take you to Florence or Paris, while a desire for earth’s natural wonders could lead you to the Californian coastal forests or the Costa Rican jungle. Decide on what’s right for you.

Set Your Budget

Setting a budget gives you a solid foundation to build on. When the budget is yours to play with, what you splurge on and where you make savings are all feel-good decisions.

ADVERTISEMENT

 Set your total spending for the trip, then break it down:

  • Travel tickets like flights, trains, or cruises
  • Accommodation
  • Activities and excursions
  • Food and drinks and treats along the way

Don’t forget to add practicalities here, such as visas and insurance. 

Costs creep up oh-so-easily when you’re excited and researching your trip, so setting the total budget first is essential.

Be flexible on the destination, but not your budget? Try a site like Wander. Share your spend cap and a few preferences, and you’ll get trip ideas that meet your budget and interests, including destinations you might never have considered before. 

Pre-Game for the Win

The biggest barrier to taking the solo trip plunge for some of us is confidence. First, get yourself in the zone with a few trial runs in your own city. Navigate across town on a new-to-you subway line or follow on-foot directions to a museum via your smartphone. Take yourself out to dinner alone to settle into how it feels (spoiler alert: it’s indulgent and nourishing). Or, join a gallery tour to practice your polite small talk or enigmatic silences. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Research Your Destination 

Before you book, get familiar with your destination. Find out what others are recommending or experiencing with a hashtag search on social media. You can also read first-person reports like this Reykjavik getaway review. Check out what local experts are saying on your destination’s tourist information site. There could be a festival worth changing travel dates for, a new arts district getting global attention, or a special offer on tickets or travel passes.

ADVERTISEMENT

In addition to the fun stuff, give yourself some peace of mind. There could be a health advisory deal-breaker or a developing situation you need to know. Check the CDC and US State department websites for the latest advisories, including areas to avoid, local customs to be aware of, or seasonal weather conditions to consider. 

Make a Plan

How you spend your time is up to you – a solo trip means you only have to please yourself. So build an itinerary that works well for you. Make sure you include rest days, shopping trips, and any extra travel time needed. 

ADVERTISEMENT

You also don’t have to do everything on your own. Booking a group tour can save you money and takes the pressure off planning those big-ticket items that require more complex organization. Seeking out hidden Mayan ruins in Belize, kayaking through Colorado, or navigating the secrets of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar can be fun to do with others. Plus, having a knowledgeable local guide provides the expertise required to score those memorable moments that make your trip an immersive experience.

Time to Book Your Solo Trip

Once you’ve ticked all the boxes, it’s time to book. This can be something many of us hold off on, wondering if we’ve got the best fare or hoping for a last-minute drop in price. Don’t let this stop you from booking altogether. Use apps like Hopper to track airline fares for you and alert you of when to buy.

ADVERTISEMENT

Consider pre-booking the tickets and tours you want to include on your trip. If an activity is a must-see or must-do, don’t leave it to chance. It’s not just about availability – it’s about getting the right tour for you on the right day.

Once you’ve confirmed your plans, it’s time to buy travel insurance. Your intention to travel starts now, which means the window of opportunity for your plans to be derailed is open. Protecting your booking pre-travel makes sense.

Packing

Photo Courtesy: primeimages/iStock
ADVERTISEMENT

Your future self will thank you for packing well. Search for a printable packing list online to help you plan what to take or craft your own packing list well ahead of time. Beyond the age-old “which shoes and how many?” conundrum, here are some practical packing preparations you might consider:

  • Your prescription medication and health supplies such as eyeglasses or an epi-pen
  • Over-the-counter helpers for stomach upsets, pain relief, allergic reactions
  • Items to stay healthy on the move include sanitizing wipes, sunscreen, and insect repellent.
  • Your personal documentation like passport, visa info, vaccination card, medical insurance details, family contact numbers
  • Trip documentation such as booking confirmations, tickets, insurance details, and local accommodation address.
  • Supporting information like embassy or consulate location and contact details, locally available medical services.

Smartphones make it easy to store much of your documentation. However, it helps to have important details jotted down or printed too — a dead battery or lost cell can have you feeling cut off pretty quickly.

During Your Solo Trip

Keep in Touch While Away 

ADVERTISEMENT
Photo Courtesy: gorodenkoff/iStock
ADVERTISEMENT

Once you’re en route, let your family and friends know how the trip is going. Sharing your itinerary with family and friends gives them peace of mind, but it’s also a window into your exciting adventures. Apps like Tripit allow you to manage your itinerary in one place and share it with your close circle.

Be Confident and Explore

Spoil yourself with some confidence-building time while you’re away. Wake up a little earlier and ease into your day by checking off those essentials as you get ready: phone charged, maps checked, sunscreen on, and water bottle filled. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Take yourself for a leisurely breakfast and go over your day’s itinerary again. What do you have planned? How do you want to feel? It’s your day to enjoy, add to, change, or reschedule. Trust your instincts as the day unfolds, and set yourself up for success.

Record Memories

Photo Courtesy: Drazen_/iStock

At the end of each day, you can journal in your travel diary, upload a vlog to your family WhatsApp group, or record your thoughts with a smartphone. Looking back on the trip with these as-it-happened notes will bring it to life again and again. It can act as a reminder – should you need it – that you are now a bonafide solo adventurer.

Solo travel is something that should be enjoyed by everyone at least once. It’s a chance to connect with yourself and a new place, but it’s also a chance to explore unhindered by those who want to take a different path.

ADVERTISEMENT