15 Absolutely Critical Tips To Know Before You Start Solo Traveling


I officially started my Solo Traveling journey in June of 2016. Since then, I have learned a lot about traveling alone. However, I can’t say that the beginning was perfect. I definitely wasn’t as efficient then as I am now. I have learned a lot since day one. 

Today, I want to give you a list of things that I wish I would have known before I started solo traveling. I was fortunate enough to know some of these before I left. And the others, well, I didn’t learn until after I started solo traveling. Ultimately, this will save you a lot of time and money. Let’s begin… 

 15 Major Tips To Know Before You Start Solo Traveling

  1. Make a Plan Before You Go
  2. Inform Someone of Your Travel Plan
  3. Sometimes Lie to People
  4. Make Copies of Important Paperwork & Upload to a Cloud
  5. Immediately Find a Local SIM Card
  6. Proper Packing
    • Proper Solo Travel Gear
    • Quantity
  7. Have Something to Do in Your Downtime
  8. Research Scams of Each Country
  9. Learn to Save Money & Increase the Length of Your Trip
    • Cheap flights
    • Eat Like a Local
    • Find Free Activities
    • House / Babysit Animals
    • Check Local Tourism Board for Coupons
    • Meet Locals, They Will Help You
    • Take a Night Bus/Train
    • Take Local Transportation
    • Choose a Cheap Country
    • Cheapest Hotels/Hostels
    • Choose The Right Season
    • Choose a Good Bank
    • Negotiate Prices
    • Avoid Scams
    • Earn Money While Traveling
    • Volunteer
    • Travel Insurance
  10. Become Good at Meeting Local People
  11. Don’t Trust Everyone
  12. Walk Away From Danger
  13. Solo Traveling is Addicting
  14. Learn the PROS & CONS of Traveling Solo
  15. Don’t forget Travel Insurance
Always plan your activities in advance.

1) Make a Plan Before You Go

The first time that I landed in a foreign country to start my first solo traveling trip, I didn’t have a plan. All I knew was which kind of Solo Traveler I was. I simply landed at the airport and took a taxi to my first hotel which was pre-booked for only one day. That is it. I had no contacts, no long-term hotel commitment, and not a single planned destination. In fact, my first activity was to walk down the street outside my hotel. 

There’s nothing wrong with this. However, I have learned that in order to get as much out of your trip as possible, it is important to have some type of general plan. Do you have to stick to this plan, 100%? No. But it will definitely help you to determine what type of activities or locations are interesting to you. It will also help you keep track of which activities that you still need to complete. Scratch them off when you are done.

2) Inform Someone of Your Travel Plan

For safety reasons, you must let someone back home know where you will be traveling. Every time you go to a new hotel or a new city, inform someone.

Generally, there is a pretty slim chance that something bad will happen to you, but if it does, your family member will be able to inform authorities of your last known location or last planned location. They can try to pinpoint your most recent steps and go from there. Be sure to learn How To Prevent Travel Problems When Solo Traveling.

3) Sometimes Lie to People

This is kind of strange, right? Well, every country has a different culture. I have been to countries where people immediately asked me the same questions, which includes questions like ‘are you married?’, or, ‘where is your hotel?’ 

I have learned that some of these questions are actually quite innocent. They are cultural questions. People want to know which hotel you are staying in because they are trying to judge your financial situation so they can brag to their family and friends about meeting a foreigner who can afford to stay in Hotel X.

Other times they will ask you about your marital status not because they are trying to offer you a prostitute, but, it is just a sign of respect in their culture. It shows that they care about you…in some weird way. 

From a western standpoint, these questions are absolutely crazy. So, I have learned to lie. I usually tell people that I don’t know the name of my hotel or I will point in the opposite direction of my hotel and say “very far that way”. Nobody needs to know where you sleep at night…unless of course, you want them to. 

Always copy your important documents and save them to a Cloud.

4) Make Copies of Important Paperwork & Upload to a Cloud

Your driver’s license, your Visa, your passport photo page, your itinerary, or any other significant paperwork that is related to your past, present, or future travels – should all be uploaded to a cloud.

If for some crazy reason your bag is stolen containing your laptop, your phone, or your passport, you will not lose all of the important documents along with your electronics. According to some embassies, if your passport is stolen in a foreign country, getting a new passport can be quite a headache.

However, if you simply provide a photo of your current passport, it can speed up the new passport process, substantially. Always keep a copy of important documents saved somewhere on the internet.

5) Immediately Find a Local SIM Card

Sometimes I have landed at airports and thought I could simply get a taxi to take me to my hotel, thinking that it would be rather simple without a SIM card. Don’t. I have proved myself wrong. One of the very first things that you should do after arriving in the new country, is to find a booth that either sells or gives away SIM cards.

Being plugged into the internet has proven to be absolutely essential for communication and a bunch of other things. It is also a good idea to determine which SIM card would be the best option for you. 

For example, if you plan on staying in the city for your entire trip then you can probably choose any local SIM card. But, if you plan on traveling around the entire country, it is important to do a little bit of research and determine which SIM card has the best coverage for the destinations that you plan on traveling to. If you don’t do this, sometimes you’ll get in a situation where your SIM card company does not have service in the areas that you are visiting. And this can cause all kinds of frustration.

All of my electronics when I first started solo traveling.

6) Proper Packing

If you are going on a solo trip for only a couple of weeks and then you plan on returning home, then this section isn’t near as important as it is for someone who it’s going to start solo traveling for weeks, months, or even years at a time.

A) Correct Solo Travel Gear

If at all possible, try to plan ahead and know what countries you plan on visiting within a certain amount of time. Try to determine what type of clothing you will need and what equipment will be essential. Do you need warm clothing for cool weather? Does it rain a lot? Or is it a dessert? Is that big camera and extra lenses required, or can you purchase a small compact camera instead? Really take the time to determine what is important, and what isn’t.

B) Quantity

Remember, everything that you put in your bag will be carried with you everywhere. From one hotel to another hotel, in every taxi, on every public bus, and everywhere else that you plan on going. Whatever you think you need to take, basically you should probably cut that in half before you actually leave. Seriously.

I remember traveling in one country a couple of years ago, there was one piece of filming equipment that I had in my bag that I almost never used. It was very large and heavy. I got so frustrated with carrying it everywhere and barely using it. So one day, I took it out of my bag and put it right in the garbage can and then simply walked away. I paid $500 USD for it. The weight was more important than my money. Please carry as little as possible, you will thank me later. 

Always have something to do in your spare time. For me, it’s editing YouTube videos.

7) Have Something to Do in Your Downtime

You will soon find out that there is a lot of downtime in your travels when traveling solo. This could be riding in the taxi, on the train, on a plane, or being stuck in your hotel on a rainy day. So what will you do when there is ‘nothing to do’? 

Some people like to bring a book and some people like to play games on their phone or the internet. Any option is okay. Just prepare in advance. There’s nothing quite worse than sitting in a chair and staring out your window and watching cars go by during a rainstorm for hours on end.

8) Research Scams of Each Country

Scams are in every country including the country that you are in right now. Please understand that the area which has the highest percentage of people ready to cheat you, is almost always the tourist area. The local people know that the ‘rich & naive people’ go to the tourist areas so, unfortunately, that is where the cheaters and scammers go also. 

In addition, every country scams people in a different way. It is important to research the scams of the country that you plan on visiting before you arrive. Why? Because the scams usually start when you touch down at the airport. Some of them are rather unique and tricky, so beware.

Public transportation is the cheapest way to get around!

9) Learn to Save Money & Increase the Length of Your Trip

Everybody loves saving money. Why would you want to spend $5 on a bottle of water when you could spend $1 on the exact same bottle of water? There are so many ways that you can save money without sacrificing quality. However, you can sacrifice quality if you choose. 

I recently wrote an article that explains this particular topic quite well – How To Save Money While Solo Traveling. It’s an epic article. You should read it and inform yourself. Here are the basics:

  • Cheap flights
  • Eat Like a Local
  • Find Free Activities
  • House / Babysit Animals
  • Check Local Tourism Board for Coupons
  • Meet Locals, They Will Help You
  • Take a Night Bus/Train
  • Take Local Transportation
  • Choose a Cheap Country
  • Cheapest Hotels/Hostels
  • Choose The Right Season
  • Choose a Good Bank
  • Negotiate Prices
  • Avoid Scams
  • Earn Money While Traveling
  • Volunteer
  • Travel Insurance
Cheap flights are the best flights. Hello from the Philippines!

10) Become Good at Meeting Local People

I also wrote an article about How To Make Friends with Local People, both online and offline. Now, if you are an Introvert Solo Traveler, then maybe you are not interested in meeting with the people. But, if you are like me, and an Extrovert Solo Traveler – you will find a great amount of help in this article. 

Meeting local people is so much fun! Not only can I help you in multiple ways, but they can also teach you about their culture. To me, experiencing the local culture is probably my absolute favorite part about traveling the world. I have made so many friends all over the world, many of which I am still in contact with today.

11) Don’t Trust Everyone

As much as I encourage people to meet locals, always keep in mind that not everyone is trustworthy. Once I was pickpocketed, another time a man went inside my bag and took 100 US dollars after I had taken him and his friend out to lunch at a 4-star restaurant. Not joking. People can be crazy. 

But luckily after traveling the world for many years and meeting thousands and thousands of people, I have only had 2 very negative things that happened to me. Sure, there is a list of slightly negative things, like cheating and charging me too much for something, but those are minor. 

How can you judge whether someone is trustworthy or not? Well, that is the million-dollar question. With some sneaky people, it’s almost impossible. But, if you catch someone in a lie of any kind, it is time to walk away. Their intentions are most likely not good.

Always avoid dangerous people. When you find people that you trust – stick with them, like I did in Vietnam.

12) Walk Away From Danger

As mentioned above, you might come in contact with someone who is not trustworthy. Let’s look at an example: Let’s say for some crazy reason a person starts to become angry at you, raises their voice, and starts shouting. When you listen to what they say, they are 100% incorrect. Any person with a second-grade education would know that this person is incorrect. 

However, there is no point in arguing to prove him/her wrong. Why? Because if their anger becomes worse, and they do something to harm you, there’s nothing you can do about it. You are in their country now. You must abide by their laws. Sometimes the police would favor the local person over a foreigner. Their story may be perceived as more trustworthy than yours. 

So, what I’m trying to say is that the best option is always just to simply walk away before things escalate into something crazy. Luckily I have never been in a situation quite like this. I have had a couple of moments where tensions started to rise but I simply walked away from the situation.

I met a local girl who took me on an adventure in Cambodia.

13) Solo Traveling is Addicting

Before I landed and started my first solo traveling trip, I never knew that I would become addicted to it and would never want to return home. I figured I would maintain an on/off cycle. Something like a couple of months traveling, and then six months back home. Rinse and repeat. Well, that proved to be quite wrong. 

Within the first two and a half months of traveling alone, I realized that this was the most epic thing that I have ever done in my entire life. No one or nothing would stop me from continuing my journey from country to country. I did not care if I needed to sleep on the streets at night to save money in order to travel more the next day. 

Once you get your first taste of solo travel it is hard to go back to your previous lifestyle. Luckily, I have never needed to sleep outside 🙂 But, I certainly would have if it were absolutely necessary.

14) Learn the PROS & CONS of Traveling Solo

When solo traveling, there are a lot of potential PROS and a lot of potential CONS. It is important to familiarize yourself with these as well. Be sure to read the PROS & CONS of Solo Traveling. The more you prepare and familiarize yourself with what is to come, the better off your trips will be.

Just when you least expect it…

15) Don’t forget Travel Insurance

Purchasing travel insurance is a critical component to Solo Traveling. In most countries that you will visit, it is not required to have, by law. However, if you happen to have a little bit of bad luck while you are on the road, your trip can turn from awesome to terrible, just in the matter of a second.

Whether someone steals all of your electronics or you become injured in some type of crazy accident, you will be solely responsible for 100% of the financial costs. That’s frightening. Travel insurance is generally cheap. Learn more about why you should never travel without travel insurance.

Being Unprepared Will Lead To Unexpected Problems

For those who did not prepare in advance and simply start traveling, there will be consequences. Some consequences will be larger than others. Mainly, this includes losing money. You will spend extra money because you do not know how to do the cheaper option. You will spend extra time because you did not know how to do the faster option. And you’ll become frustrated because you have started to lose time and money.

Hopefully, If you have taken the time to read the above article and click on the links that I have mentioned, you will gain all kinds of insights before you even leave your home for the first time.  This will help you save time, money, and prevent a lot of frustration. If you have read through the other links that I have provided above, then congratulations! You are now officially more prepared than I ever was!

Brock

Hey - I'm Brock. I grew up in the USA, and I have been a full-time Solo Traveler since June of 2016. I am also a Travel Vlogger on YouTube where my primary focus is to simply hang out with local people around the world. My full story is here: About Me

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