5 Things to Know Before Traveling Alone for the First Time

Shane Haumpton
January 16, 2024

Traveling solo is a fulfilling yet potentially scary experience, but preparation is one of the keys to overcoming that fear. If you’re traveling alone for the first time and don’t know where to start, here are five essential tips to ensure a smooth and safe trip:

Pack Light

To make your life easier when traveling, pack light. This doesn’t mean skimping on clothes and other essentials; it means prioritizing what you need the most for that specific trip and location. It should also take your budget into account. First of all, you wouldn’t want to be lugging your pack while getting around places as this will affect the whole experience. Second, the last thing you want to have in a foreign place is excruciating back pains. And lastly, a lighter backpack saves you time and money as it lets you take public transportation with ease and skip baggage counters.

If you’re going on a long trip, know what types of clothing you’ll need to stay comfortable. Always consider the location you’ll be traveling to (city, town, beach, etc.) and what you’ll be doing. Once you have these planned out, pack the appropriate clothing and gear.

When packing light, know that you don’t have to sacrifice fashion over functionality. But some considerations will have to be made when you go to certain countries. For instance, women will have to wear more modest and appropriate clothing in some countries and sacred sites. This may be a bit harsh, but it’s something travelers should accept when they venture into foreign lands and different cultures.  

Be Present in Your Photos

There’s a time to put your camera down, enjoy what you see, and experience life happening in front of you. But coming back from vacation also allows you to remember the experience by looking at the moments you’ve captured.

Being present in photos of foreign places adds a uniqueness to the scene. Just make sure that you have the proper equipment when you decide to travel. Snap the shot, put your camera away, and soak in the moment.

Blend in by Dressing Appropriately

As mentioned above, there are some places that have different perspectives on modesty, especially when it comes to clothes. For women, one obvious benefit is avoiding unwanted attention from suspicious individuals - a must when traveling alone. Looking flashy or touristy increases your chances of attracting scammers and thieves. Dressing appropriately not keeps danger at bay, but also helps you blend in and easily connect with the locals. Do a bit of research prior to leaving for your trip to better understand cultural norms.

Opt to Stay in Hostels

It’s normal to feel nervous when you’re traveling alone for the first time. It can be scary talking to strangers, but meeting the right people can be life-changing. So when you plan for accommodations, consider hostels instead of hotels so that it’ll be easier for you to socialize.

You can find hostels that offer private single rooms or dorms. These can either be deluxe-type guesthouses or modest hostels that usually have a “communal” setup. Some hostels even organize tours, parties, and other social events that would help you loosen up and mingle with other solo travelers.

Be Mindful of Your Money & Safety

Luxurious hotels can also be an option if you really want to sleep comfortably — just make sure that you have enough money. When traveling alone, anything can happen, from medical emergencies and missed flights to surcharges and natural disasters. Having travel insurance and enough extra cash will serve as your safety net when these things happen. Also, make sure to notify friends and family about your trip and bring phone numbers with you at all times.

Understand that traveling alone means that you need to heavily rely on yourself, but also have available emergency contacts ready. When it comes to money, be realistic of what you need and be mindful of your expenses. Have a mix of credit cards, cash, and traveler’s checks hidden in separate bags or compartments. And lastly, prepare to shell out more money than expected in case cash is the only mode of payment available.

It’s an exciting and fulfilling experience to go solo in a foreign country. As long as you keep track of your expenses and safety, you can let loose and keep roaming.

Shane Haumpton
Shane Haumpton is a contributing writer for several websites and blogs. She has written on a variety of topics, ranging from lifestyle, photography, travel, and arts and crafts to gadgets, social media, and internet safety. This self-confessed coffee addict and shutterbug manages to do all these while enjoying life as a nomad.


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