How to Prepare for Travelling Alone for the First Time

I speak to women all the time who say they could never do what I do.  And men too for that matter!  They can’t understand how I manage to head off to a new country by myself, travel around and not freak out.  Travelling alone for the first time wasn’t a big deal for me, I just decided that I wanted to go, so I went!  However, I realise that not everyone is as lucky as me in that respect.  So if you are feeling nervous about taking your first solo trip, here are my top tips to help you travel alone for the first time.

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Why Travel Alone?

There are lots of benefits of solo travel, so much so that I wrote a whole separate article about it, but for me, solo travel is one of the most exciting and challenging things I’ve ever done, and it changed my life when I took my first solo trip.

From mental and physical health benefits to increased independence and self-confidence, the freedom to truly be yourself while travelling alone opens up a world of opportunities and experiences that people who travel with a partner or friends don’t have access to.

You’re in control of your budget and your itinerary so you can be as flexible and spontaneous as you like, being able to choose exactly what you want to do (or not do!) and when you want to do it, which is a liberating experience!  

You may have several reasons for wanting to travel alone in the first place.  It might be your choice because you prefer to be independent and have some time for yourself.  It could be because you have recently lost a partner, or don’t have one to travel with. 

It could be because your friends are too busy with their jobs or families and aren’t able to join you on adventures.  Or perhaps you just want to go somewhere amazing that doesn’t appeal to anyone else.

Whatever the reasons for travelling alone, if you’re worried that solo travel might be lonely, or dreading some of the other disadvantages of solo travel, try not to panic!  While some nerves are to be expected, don’t let them stop you from going on an adventure. 

Planning and preparing for your first solo trip will help you to pluck up the courage and get the confidence to travel alone for the first time, so here are all of my tips to get you started!  

Prepare for Travelling Alone for the First Time

Congratulate Yourself

First off, well done!  If you’re thinking about taking a solo trip, that is the first step!  Travelling alone is an incredible experience, and although it might not be easy, it could be the most rewarding and exciting thing you will ever do.

Before you take the plunge though, it is understandable to be a little nervous about your first time.  But once you get a taste for solo travel you will never look back. 

I travelled alone for the first time when I was 19 and have been in love with solo travel ever since, and I’m still solo travelling more than 20 years later!  Now it’s time to find your love of solo travel too.

Claire Jumping at the Kiss Mural in Barcelona - Solo Travel Tips
Claire Jumping at the Kiss Mural in Barcelona – Solo Travel Tips

Remember that You Are Not Alone

Welcome to the world of solo travel.  Regardless of your gender, there are thousands of solo travellers out there just like you, so you are never really alone.  Online and face-to-face communities are a great way to meet like-minded people to talk about travel.

Check out local events on Couchsurfing where you can meet locals and travellers together.  Join travel Facebook groups to ask for advice and inspiration, and to see real photographs and hear real experiences from other travellers in the destination you’ve chosen.

If you want to meet people to travel with, my first starting point is to stay in a hostel – even if you’re in a private room and not a shared dorm you can still socialise and get to know other people as you go.

READ MORE: How to Meet People While Travelling Alone

Get Inspiration

Now you’re thinking about a solo trip, have you also thought about where to go?  One of the main reasons for my big solo trip to South America was having met lots of fabulous friends from South America, who inspired me to go and visit their countries. 

Perhaps you love Mexican food and want to try some tacos in Mexico.  Perhaps seeing the pyramids of Giza is making you want to go to Egypt to learn about their history and culture.

If you have some ideas about where to go on your first solo trip that’s great, but if you don’t then start to think about where you might like to go.  And if you have no idea, then head online for inspiration – or even flipping through magazines and brochures for pretty pictures, wonderful stories and incredible scenery might spark some excitement in you.

Pinterest and Instagram can be a great source of visible inspiration, and TikTok can be great for seeing beautiful places, but remember that everything you see on social media will only tell a tiny part of the story and might be filtered to within an inch of its life.  

Tacos al Pastor in Mexico - Inspiration for Your First Solo Trip?
Tacos al Pastor in Mexico – Inspiration for Your First Solo Trip?

Start Small for Your First Solo Trip

You don’t have to book a round-the-world ticket for your first time travelling alone.  You don’t even need to leave your hometown if you don’t want to!  If you’re worried about how you will cope with spending time by yourself, then just start to do a few activities alone.

This could be things like going to the cinema alone, taking an exercise or art class alone or even booking a staycation & spending the night at a hotel by yourself.  When you know you can do this in your own town, then you can do it anywhere! 

If you’re still feeling nervous, how about a weekend city break somewhere in your own country or even a day trip?  Choose somewhere not too far away or somewhere that you’ve been before so that you have that extra level of comfort before going too far.

In the UK we can travel easily by train, plane or automobile to a new city and explore somewhere close to home, so you can get home quickly if it gets too much.  Choose somewhere with a variety of things to do so you can try out various different activities to see what you enjoy doing.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: How to Rock Dining Alone

Follow Your Hobbies

A great way to start travelling alone is to do something that you already know and love.  If you are into sports like diving, hiking, surfing or horse riding there are lots of active holidays where you can do these kinds of activities to keep busy, and meet some people who like to do the same things.

If you love food, a cooking course in Italy could be perfect for your first solo trip, or a yoga retreat could be just the ticket for budding yogis.  No matter what you are into, there is bound to be somewhere you can go to do it.  

Another big bonus about doing something you love is that you will meet like-minded people who are also doing the same thing, so you might make some friends while you’re having a fabulous solo travel experience.

Me Horse Riding in Ecuador - One of my Favourite Things to do when Travelling Alone
Me Horse Riding in Ecuador – One of my Favourite Things to do when Travelling Alone

Consider Taking a Group Tour

A lot of people don’t realise that solo travel doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be alone.  If you want to travel but aren’t quite ready to go completely alone, group tours and organised adventures can be a great way to travel alone with other people.

For my first solo trip when I was 19 I booked a two-week tour of the US east coast.  When I went to South America for the first time I booked a tour from Bolivia to Machu Picchu.  I have explored Ireland and Scotland on group tours, and am planning my own group tours to some different destinations too!

Group tours are designed to make everything as easy as possible, where you don’t have to worry about getting from A to B or booking accommodation.  All you have to do is turn up and make friends with other people on the tour.  Or at the very least have a conversation with them!  And enjoy.

However, tours are often more expensive than travelling independently, so if you are on a tight budget then there may be other solo travel options which are better for you, like doing a work exchange.

Volunteer or do a Work Exchange Abroad

A work exchange is where volunteers offer their time and skills to work in exchange for free accommodation.

If it is your first time travelling alone, sometimes having the extra security of knowing where to go and having a contact in your destination gives some reassurance that you will be safe and sound, and give the opportunity to meet other travellers and local people, as well saving money while you travel by getting free accommodation. 

The easiest and safest way to find work exchange programs is to use a work exchange website.  These websites act as an intermediary between the people looking for volunteers and volunteers looking for work exchange placements.  Popular work exchange websites include:

WorldpackersWorkawayHelpXWWOOFHippohelp and Volunteers Base.

This article has a comparison between some of the top work exchange sites so you can see which one is right for you.  Some work exchange websites are free to join, while others have fees and include extra services such as customer helplines and insurance should something go wrong during a work exchange. 

For first-time solo travellers, I would recommend a site like Worldpackers which has robust safety measures like only accepting verified hosts who go through a verification process before they can advertise their work exchange placements.  They also show reviews from past volunteers so you can choose hosts with a high rating for the best chance of a great experience.

In addition to that, if you have any issues related to your host during your stay that means you want to leave, Worldpackers Insurance means that Worldpackers will cover 3 nights for you at a nearby hostel and their support team will get you set up with another Worldpacker host as soon as possible. 

I’ve used Workaway and Worldpackers to volunteer abroad and can definitely recommend it for first-time solo travellers, as long as you pick a host with lots of excellent reviews!

My Welcome Dinner at a Hostel I volunteered at in Mexico - Make Travel Friends while working in a Hostel
My Welcome Dinner at a Hostel I volunteered at in Mexico – Make Travel Friends while working in a Hostel

Have a Plan

Everyone I’ve met travelling has a different kind of plan when it comes to planning.  Some people like to do things on the fly, just turning up and seeing what happens.  Others plan everything to the tiniest detail with spreadsheets, printouts and military precision.  Most of us are somewhere in between, and that is what I would advise for your first solo trip.

Have some sort of plan regarding where you are staying, how to get there, and at least some idea about what you would like to do there.  Maybe book a tour or two, reserve a table in a restaurant, book a transfer etc, but don’t overdo it, because if something doesn’t go according to the plan it is likely to stress you out.

Delays happen, as do cancellations, unforeseen circumstances and a whole host of random annoyances may happen, and that’s ok.  Shit does happen, but don’t let that ruin your trip.  There are very few things which will cause a major upset to your travel plans, mostly they will just be bumps in the metaphorical or literal road.  Don’t sweat it, that is part of travel!

And a Plan B

Having said that, it is always a good idea to have a plan B in case the sh*t really does hit the fan.  I am lucky to have my parents available should any real disaster strike (like when my passport and credit card was stolen), so it is useful to have someone you know and trust back home to use as an emergency contact or just an emergency shoulder to cry on.

Give them a copy of your travel itinerary, travel insurance details and a copy of your passport so if you need anything they will be able to help you from afar.  If you don’t feel like you have anyone to rely on, that’s ok too, just prepare a copy of this information and keep it somewhere safe and easily accessible.  I like to have a paper copy and an electronic copy so I can get everything I need off my emails.

Overhead Shot of a woman planning travel on her laptop - How to Travel Alone for the First Time
How to Travel Alone for the First Time – Plan but Be Flexible

Consider Travel Insurance

Don’t Let Other People Put You Off

This is a major factor for many people who want to take a solo travel trip.  Friends and family repeatedly tell you not to go because it’s too dangerous, because you’re not capable of doing it, because the country isn’t safe, because they watched Taken and now believe every Eastern European is going to kidnap you.

Explain to them that you appreciate their concern and their love, but you would really like their support because this is something you truly care about.  If you’re reading this article it means you haven’t just booked a solo trip on a whim, it means you have been thinking about this for a while so it is obviously important to you, and the people in your life should understand that too.


Just F*cking Do It.  I don’t mean to sound harsh here, but sometimes the hardest part is taking the final step and doing it.  If you are still afraid about travelling alone for the first time, please just give it a try.

And remember that no matter where you are in the world, there will always be people willing to help you, and you will be just a phone call away from friends and family.  If this is something you have dreamt about, then now is the time to make your dreams come true.  You can do it! You are a strong, confident person and you are going to get out there and see the world.

Don’t forget to send me a postcard!

Me in Ecuador on a Solo Backpacking Trip - How to Travel Alone for the First Time
Me in Ecuador on a Solo Backpacking Trip – How to Travel Alone for the First Time

Accept that Solo Travel Isn’t For Everyone (And That’s OK!)

I will end this by saying that solo travel isn’t for everyone.  If after all of this, you give solo travel a try and discover that you don’t enjoy it then that is totally fine.  Everyone has their own likes and dislikes, and levels of comfort and enjoyment, and if solo travel isn’t for you then don’t feel bad about it.  There are lots of other ways you can get a travel fix, but be proud of yourself for trying something new!   

What else can I do to help you prepare for your first solo trip?  Anything you need to travel alone for the first time I’m happy to help.

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