How-To Prep for Your First Solo Trip
Updated: Sep 17, 2020
Growing up I was lucky enough to have been able to travel a little bit.
Half of my family lives in Puerto Rico, so every year, since I can remember, we visit. This planted my love for airports, and airplanes!
What is more exciting than an airport??? That means you're going somewhere!
Once I moved to Florida and had a place to myself I thought I could go anywhere and be just fine! I went on a few trips, but I always had my dad or a friend with me.
In summer 2018, I started planning my first solo trip abroad!
This trip changed several times over the course of 2 months. I was going to backpack through SE Asia for 2 weeks, then 3 weeks, then 2 months, and then I was going to go to Germany for 3 weeks, and then I ended up deciding on Bali for the first 2 weeks of November...
So... The question really is:
How to plan your first solo trip?
1) Do your research
When you pick your location. Do your general research on safety, neighborhoods, activities, transportation, average costs. I did this by getting a lonely planet guide book. Although the stats inside will change over the years, the general idea will be the same. Just double check your findings online when you finally pick a destination.
Things to find out:
Safety of locations
Where to convert your money - sometimes you'll get more for your buck in your own country and sometimes more in the one you're going to.
Avg daily costs
Types of transportation available
Traditions at the time you're going - see if you can experience a cultural event!
Weather! - Do you like sumer or winter better? Is it monsoon season?
Top list of activities you'd like to do or places you want to go
Type of dress - make sure you respect the culture you are in. If you need to cover up more, bring the proper attire.
2) Ask Questions
I found a couple bloggers that have gone on trips to these locations, and just sent them an email with my specific questions if I couldn't find it on their website. My favorite people to reach out to are Kristen Addis (Be My Travel Muse) and Matt Kepnes (Nomadic Matt). They have extremely successful travel blogs and have been all over the world. At first I thought they'd be too busy to get back to me, but I was happily surprised! They are very friendly and helpful :)
There are also many travel/nomadic Facebook groups where you can ask questions to people all over the world. Just look up travel tip group on Facebook, and many will pop up.
3) Get a travel notebook
This notebook saved my life! You can only bookmark so many pages and remember what page is what. Plus, if you don't have wifi you're kind of screwed. In my book I kept track of everything. I was able to add or cross out ideas, do math on costs, and just plan. Then all of my plans were in one location. Plus, if I chose one idea and didn't go after another, I still have the details to go on the other trip in the future!
4) Don't use a travel agent
I made this mistake. I spent way too much money for someone to do a job I could've done myself. The agent fee was an extra $400 on top of the already $1,500 plane tickets that if I would've gotten on my own probably would've been $1,200... Don't be lazy and just keep your eyes on the flight patterns. I honestly just look at Google Flights. I don't even use those apps.
5) Get a miles credit card
I wish I did this before my first trip... But, with a miles card, just buying things will give you more and more points. So instead of using my checking account I just use this card for everything I would've already bought. Now... Don't get carried away and buy more than what you can pay for because going in debt isn't worth the miles. But this way you can live your regular life and get free flights!
There are several kinds of miles cards out there some with annual fees, some without, some directly through airlines, and more. I have a Discover Student/Miles Card with no Annual Fee.
6) Buy a plane ticket as soon as you pick a destination
Don't worry about the plans you will have at your destination. Just buy the ticket! Once you have it, you can't cancel, so you'll have to figure out what you are going to do when you get there. Don't let the fear of failing keep you from getting your ticket! You will be just fine!
7) You don't need to know everything
In your travel notebook, keep a list of activities you'd like to do, and places you'd like see, and maybe even restaurants you might want to try (I like to figure food out when I get there, more exciting that way). When you are there, based on the weather and what you are feeling that day, you can decide what you will do.
AND AWAY YOU GO!
Click to know --> Is it scary to travel alone?