How to Plan Your First Solo Travel Adventure

Planning my first solo trip was one of the most exciting, liberating, and daunting experiences of my life. Despite feeling overwhelmed with flight & accommodation details, and working out how to break the news to my parents, I took the leap. And I don’t regret a thing.

Now, I’ve travelled solo to Ireland, London, and New Zealand and I’m not stopping any time soon!

The only major difference between planning a trip with family or friends and planning your first solo trip is that this time, it’s all about YOU. It’s all about where you want to go, when you want to go, where you want to stay, and what you want to do! In this world, that kind of freedom is rare. Isn’t it exhilarating?

But if you’re like me and you easily feel overwhelmed by everything that goes into planning a trip, keep reading. You’ll learn all the insider tips and tricks that’ll help make your solo travel adventure a successful one!


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How to Plan your First Solo Travel Adventure

1 | Decide where you want to go.

How to plan your first solo travel adventure

Woohoo! You’ve decided to take the leap into solo travel! I’m SO proud of you! But before anything else, you’ve got to decide where you want to go on this killer solo travel adventure! It’s likely you already have some ideas (Japan, anyone?) though it helps to ask yourself a few simple questions to narrow it down:

  • How long do you want to travel for?
  • How far are you willing to go?
  • Which locations fit your budget?
  • What are you looking to get out of this experience? (Ie. Culture, adventure, relaxation?)

To answer these questions, a Google Doc (or download the Travel Itinerary & Budget Template) may help to track your ideas. I also find most of my travel inspiration on Pinterest (I keep all my favourite ideas on my Travel Inspiration board if you’d like to follow!).

2 | Overcome feeling overwhelmed.

How to Plan your First Solo Travel Adventure

Every time I decide to take a solo trip, I’m initially overwhelmed with excitement and joy. However, these feelings are quickly replaced by fear. Suddenly, everything about the trip feels overwhelming and stressful and I ask myself why the hell I’m doing this.

But it’s totally natural to feel this way, my friend. Planning a trip takes time, effort, and can be extremely daunting. Especially if you’re going somewhere you’ve never been or whose culture completely differs from your own. So don’t worry if you’re feeling afraid or anxious at any point during the planning period. Heightened emotions are a normal part of the travel experience and can help motivate you to keep going.

Which means the best way to keep these feelings in check is to simply dive into the planning process. Fear is often bred by the feeling of having no control, so once you start figuring things out, you’ll gain more control and the excitement should come flooding back in!

Again, I recommend downloading the Free Itinerary & Budget Template to help you organize and roughly plan your trip. I say ‘roughly’ because plans change and let’s face it – keeping to a strict itinerary can be stressful and you’re definitely not travelling to stress yourself out more! The template can be downloaded here:

Thinking about planning a kick-ass solo adventure? Get your FREE Itinerary & Budget Template Here!

If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, talking to a friend or family member might help – this goes for any time you’re feeling overwhelmed during your travels, too. Never underestimate the power of talking about your feelings.

3 | Check your Passport/visa entry requirements.

How to plan your first solo travel adventure

 

Before you leave for your trip, make sure you have a valid passport with an expiry date that’s well beyond six months. Also, check the visa entry requirements for the country (or countries) you want to visit before your departure. For example, if you’re planning on going to Sri Lanka, you’ll need a tourist visa before entering the country. You can apply for this requirement within 90 days before departure.

Usually, a quick Google search will tell you everything you need to know in regards to documentation for the country you’re travelling to. This also includes recommended vaccinations!

And before you leave, make sure you have all relevant documents (passport, credit cards, travel insurance etc.) copied and printed just in case something is lost or God forbid, stolen while you’re away.

4 | Buy your tickets!

How to Plan your First Solo Travel Adventure

My biggest advice when booking a plane, train, or bus ticket is to keep a keen eye on what time you’ll arrive at your destination. Will you get there in the morning? Afternoon? Late at night? You’ll want to avoid arriving anywhere late at night for three reasons:

  1. If flying, most cheap options to get from the airport to your accommodation won’t be available. I once had to pay $60 for a cab ride from Toronto Pearson Airport because my plane didn’t land until 1:30am.
  2. Not all hostels are equipped with 24-hour desk attendants. Normally, they’ll e-mail you with a keypad code for after hours sign-in – but what if you don’t have data or Wi-Fi? How will you get the code?
  3. And most importantly, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Arriving late at night anywhere can be a huge risk to your personal safety, especially in a place you’re unfamiliar with. So if take anything away from this article, please double check your arrival times before purchasing tickets!

5 | Decide what your comfort level is with being alone.

How to Plan your First Solo Travel Adventure

For most of us, being alone is a foreign concept. As naturally social creatures, it’s totally against our innate desire to belong to go solo. Luckily, in today’s world, we’re spoiled with choices when it comes to travel, including how alone we really want to be.

Before taking off to New Zealand, I thought heavily about my comfort level in being by myself for an entire month. To be truthful, I wasn’t comfortable. I didn’t know anyone there and it felt super daunting to rent a car and drive on the opposite side of the road by myself. So, I opted for the Hop-On Hop-Off bus, Stray New Zealand. This option gave me the freedom to stay in different locations for as long as I wanted without the pressures of a scheduled bus tour. With moderate control over my itinerary and easy access to new friends, at the end of the day, I was VERY satisfied with my choice.

On the other hand, I’ve gone to London and had an amazing time exploring the city on my own without a guide. So it totally depends on your own comfort levels!

BUT don’t be afraid to challenge your comfort zone, too! You never know what you’re capable of until you’re completely responsible for absolutely everything in your itinerary.

8 | Make sure you have good shoes and a killer packing list.

How to Plan your First Solo Travel Adventure

I can’t stress this enough. Good shoes can make or break a trip. I think the WORST feeling while travelling is the stinging pain from a blister forming on your heel after only a few hours of walking around the city – so chose your shoes wisely.

My go-to shoes for airports and city travel are OluKai’s as they’re super easy to slip on and off in airport security and have all the arch-support my little feet could ask for :).

Also, consider what you need for your trip based on where you’re going and what you’ll be doing (bikini’s for beach life, hiking boots for hiking life, etc. etc.). Think about feminine hygiene products – will those be readily available in the country you’re travelling to? Think about the currency you’ll need. Being prepared and having everything you need to make you feel that much more comfortable will take SO much stress out of your trip (and plus, shopping for travel accessories is HELLA fun. Trust me).

7 | Decide who you’re going to tell.

For me, this is one of the hardest parts of planning a solo adventure. Hence, why it’s the last on the list.

I know telling people is necessary. I want to make sure someone knows where I’m going for the most obvious reason: safety. However, something always holds me back. And that something is fear.

I’ll be the first person to admit I care waaay too much about what people think of me. That includes my family, friends, and literally anyone I come into contact with. It’s a curse I’m desperately trying to manage (Got any tips??). I’m afraid people will think I’m making a silly, impractical, and irresponsible decision. Despite how much I know otherwise. But sometimes it’s best to rip the bandaid off and tell the people that mean the most to you this:

This is what I’m doing and I hope you can support me.

Provide as much or as little information as you’d like because at the end of the day, it’s your trip and you’re gonna do what you want, anyway 🙂

Adios & good luck on your first solo travel adventure!

How to Plan your First Solo Travel Adventure


At the end of the day: If you’ve gone through all these steps and still didn’t enjoy your time travelling solo – that’s okay! It’s not for everyone. Many of my friends don’t enjoy travelling alone but I’d definitely recommend giving a try at least once!

Do you have anything else you’d add to this list? Do you have any solo travel plans coming up? I’d love to hear from you!

Quote to Travel By:
Sometimes all you have to do is go for it. Take a breath and jump. Because here’s the thing, you can spend forever standing at the foot of the diving board, and you will always find a reason not to go in. It’s too high; it might hurt; you might swallow water. And all of those things are true, but you know what else is true? You’ll waste a perfectly good life standing on the edge when really the most beautiful thing you could do is go for it. Take the jump.”

How to plan your first solo travel adventure