If you’re a first-time solo traveller, congratulations. You’re about to embark on a new way of travelling, one that might change the way you travel forever. But as a newbie, chances are you might be feeling a little apprehensive.
Without the familiarity and support of a friend, travelling to an unknown, exotic destination can seem a little daunting. But like most challenges, solo travel comes with its own rewards. There is the newfound sense of confidence, the life-long friendships and the memories that seem crazy at the time but take on a hazy and happy filter as time passes.
If you're ready to push past your comfort zone, here are a few solo travel tips to get you started.
Take time to build your confidence
If this is your first trip alone, think about making your first stop somewhere where you share the language or will feel comfortable. Solo travelling should push you, but it should also be fun, so take it at your own pace when you first start off.
Once you find your feet, then you can begin to challenge yourself. Did you know that only one-quarter of Australians and New Zealanders seek authentic, local experiences when they travel overseas?
Seeking experiences that come from travelling off the beaten track and engaging with local economies, cultures, languages and traditions rewards both you as a traveller and the destinations you visit.
Check out the Helpful or Harmful page to learn more about our attitudes to travelling and how you can help fight overtourism.
Don’t rob yourself of experiences
The beauty of solo travel means you can go and do whatever you please, without the restrictions of anyone else. For lots of first-timers, it’s an opportunity to discover a new hobby or skill.
If you want to eat at that fancy restaurant, strap on a snorkelling mask or take on a five-day hiking trail, then make the plunge. This is an opportunity to fully indulge and enjoy yourself.
Learn some of the local languages
You don't have to be fluent in another language to travel, but a few key phrases will go a long way. iTranslate on the iPhone or Google Translate for Android users have turned how we travel on its head.
Sit down with your cab driver with your translation app open. Ask them where they come from in their own language and see their face break into a big toothy grin and their story spill out. These apps have removed a once impenetrable language barrier, allowing us to access cultures in a way we have never been able to before.
Be prepared to ask for help when you need it
When you rely solely on yourself, you'll need to ask for help more often. You might not be able to find your accommodation, or you might find yourself completely befuddled with the local public transport system. Working things out on your own is important, but ask for help if you’re stuck. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Don’t feel guilty about downtime
Solo or not, travelling can be mentally and physically exhausting. If you want to stay happy and healthy, it's important to listen to your body. If you need a day off to lie on the beach or watch Netflix in bed, revel in it. You're not on the go all the time at home, why should you be on your travels?
Embrace being alone
It's perfectly normal to miss the company of others. But a big part of solo travel is learning how to love alone time. Embrace it, but know when it's time for you to seek other people.
If you do start to hanker for human connection, good news. Solo travellers tend to collect more friendships more than any other traveller, and where you choose to stay can play a big role.