Planning a solo trip can be a terrifying yet exciting experience. There are so many unknowns and you probably have a million questions floating through your mind… where should I go, what do I want to see, what should I pack, why am I doing this, will I make any friends, is it safe, am I crazy?
If this resonates with you, DO NOT WORRY! As long as you maintain a healthy balance, these thoughts and feelings are natural.
I’ve personally gone on 10+ solo trips and recently spent 5 months in Southeast Asia as a solo traveler. In this post I will provide you with a basic framework that I’ve used when planning my own solo trips that will guide your planning process and help you make an educated decision when you plan your first solo trip.
Planning a Solo Trip
You will need to prepare before many different things for your trip such as your luggage, visas, vaccinations, travel insurance, etc. but I think it is important to start the trip planning process by deciding where you will visit. There is no use in worrying about your luggage, required visas, suggested vaccinations, or travel insurance before you’ve decided on what area you will be visiting. Because these requirements will vary greatly between different destinations so it is best to save them for later.
But don’t worry, we will cover these important items later on in the other sections of the guide. Now let’s get started with planning your trip and choosing a destination!
Figure Out What’s Important to You
Everyone has different preferences, goals, and desires, and the great thing about solo travel is that you only need to focus on yours! Think about what makes you happy and what your motivations are for planning a solo trip.
I suggest picking out 5 or more different motivations and ranking them by their importance to you. I’ve created a list below that I’ve used in the past when deciding where to visit. Use this list to help you kick start your brainstorming session.
10 Potential Factors to Consider
- Proximity to your current location
- Access to Nature/Wildlife
- Ease of Travel at your Destination
The 3 Most Important Things to Consider for a First Time Solo Traveler
Although I strongly encourage you to create your own list that will fulfill your needs, there are 3 things that every first time solo traveler should strongly consider when choosing a destination.
If safety isn’t already your most important factor, I encourage you to put it at the top of your list. It’s hard to have a good time when you’re constantly on the lookout for shady characters and scams. Choosing a safe destination will make your trip less stressful and more enjoyable.
There can be a big difference between the actual safety of a country and how the media typically portrays them, so don’t go find the first article about violence in Mexico and cross it off your list. Instead, I encourage you to read different forums and trip reports from people who have personally and recently visited the countries you’re interested in. Every city/country has its dangerous areas, but I would never tell someone not to visit Chicago because of the violence that occurs in the South Side.
The bottom line is that if you are not very confident with your street smarts, you should stick to a destination that is on the safer side.
Do you speak a second language (or perhaps even a third!)? Language is very important to consider before you decide on a destination.
English is widely spoken throughout the world, but I’ve traveled to several places where nearly no one speaks any English at all. This can make even the simplest of tasks (such as finding a restroom or ordering a meal) extremely difficult.
You should find out if your native language (or other languages you’re fluent in) are commonly spoken at the destination you have in mind.
Ease of Travel at your Destination
Finally, an often overlooked but very important factor is . Ease of travel is the ability to move around freely and easily once you arrive at your destination. Certain destinations do not have readily available transportation and/or it may be very expensive to travel in the area.
For your first trip I recommend choosing a destination that has a good public transportation system and/or a ride sharing service such as Uber or Grab. There is nothing worse than being “stuck” somewhere remote and having to shell out a ton of cash to get out of there.
Breaking Down the Different Factors
Chances are, that there isn’t a “perfect” destination that will fulfill every single one of your needs. Which is why it is so important to rank your list of factors. By finding a destination that meets most of your needs, you’ll be in a great position for a successful solo trip.
Do It For You
While this is a good overview of my planning process, you will need to go through a similar process that is unique to you.
There are an endless number of places you can visit throughout the world so it is important to make it count by visiting a destination that will fulfill your desires.