Depending on your definition of a country, there are about 195 different countries in this world today. And there are thousands of locations that can be visited within each country. Choosing which places to visit, especially if it is your first time as a Solo Traveler, can be incredibly daunting. This article will show you how I would make this decision if I were to do it all over again.
If you want a completely randomized way to choose your next travel destination, then be sure to check out 11 crazy ways to choose a travel destination.
But if you are interested in a logical decision-making process, then listen up. Rather than simply giving you a list of countries to choose from, I want to teach you how to think and make a logical decision for yourself.
Here’s How To Determine Which Location To Visit as a First Time Solo Traveler
- Develop a list of interests
- Research the countries that have your interests
- Determine the cost of visiting these countries
- Research visa requirements
- Compile options and make decision
1) Develop a List of Interests
To be honest, this is the most important part of this entire article and therefore it will probably be the longest.
Whether you are going to embark on a relatively short journey as a Guided Solo Traveler, or go on an extended trip as an Extrovert Solo Traveler / Introvert Solo Traveler (learn more about the types of solo traveling) – it is important to sit down and determine exactly what you want out of your trip. Instead of having just a mediocre trip, I want you to have a trip that is absolutely amazing and potentially life-changing. And the only way to do this is to tailor it to your particular tastes.
You must first ask yourself what, specifically, excites you the most. Here are some examples:
There are river landscapes, mountain landscapes, forest landscapes, high coastal landscapes, desert landscapes, tropical, beach or jungle landscapes just to name a few.
Are you particularly interested in religion, physical appearance, culture, or language?
Is there a particular religion that you are interested in learning more about? Is there a particular religion that you currently practice and you want to see how people practice the same religion in a different country?
Are you interested in skyscrapers, houses, factories, mud huts, or even slums?
Are you interested in a particular type of food? Maybe you like spicy food, maybe you hate spicy food, maybe you like to fish, maybe you enjoy bread, maybe you like certain kinds of wine, maybe you like fresh fruit, maybe you are interested in something completely backward from what you are used to, or maybe you only want to eat food very similar to what you are currently used to in your home country.
Are you interested in recent history? Ancient history? Maybe you would enjoy visiting many museums and ancient buildings from the distant past.
Are you particularly concerned about your safety? There are some countries that are notoriously kind, friendly, and welcoming…and there are also countries that have people who may try to capture you and steal your kidney if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I know, I was a little bit extreme in that last one. But I just want you to be aware of your options. The sky’s the limit! You must start to think about what interests you the most. Maybe you have found something from the list above, or maybe it has sparked some new ideas and now you need some more time to think. When you have about two or three potential interests, then you can move on to the next step. By the way, if you are worried about someone stealing your kidney – be sure to learn more about how to stay safe while traveling solo.
2) Research Countries That Are Notorious For Your Chosen Interest
If you have chosen three separate interests, write them down. And then go to Google and type in countries that have ___. Write down at least 10 countries that seem interesting to you under each chosen interest. Once you have your lists compiled, determine which countries are on all three lists.
Maybe you will have two countries that have made it on all three lists. Now you need to have a tiebreaker. Choose another interest and determine which one of these two countries have more of it. Now you should have determined the winning country based on interests.
3) Determine the Cost of Visiting These Countries
If you are fortunate enough to have a substantial amount of money in your bank account and money doesn’t matter too much, then simply skip this section and move to the next. But if money does play into the equation, then listen up.
If you look at the top three countries from the list that you have created, do some Google searches that will help you estimate the cost of traveling in those countries. Here is a great resource that you can use. This allows you to choose your home country and compare it to your potential destination. It will give you a rough idea about the costs of some (but not all) things. Be sure to list the countries from cheapest to most expensive.
Note: If you are looking for a way to travel as cheap as possible, be sure you read this extremely helpful article.
4) Research Visa Requirements
Yuck. This is my absolute least favorite part about traveling the world. The Visa process. Every country has different Visa rules and regulations, independently. In addition, there are different rules and regulations based on what passport you are currently holding. Luckily, iVisa makes it easy to research and organize.
If you are from country A, you can visit country X for 30 days. If you are from country B, you can visit for 60 days. Sometimes you can extend after you are inside. Sometimes you can’t. Sometimes if you overstay your visa, you must pay a small penalty. Sometimes you must pay an astronomical penalty. Sometimes they will put you on an official list and prevent you from ever returning to their country.
The Visa process is complicated. In general, however, it is usually easier for travelers who come from a developed country. But not always.
One of the first things I do before choosing to travel to a country is to determine the longest Visa that I can get for that country. One of the easi If I can get a 3-month visa, then I will try to make longer travel plans. If they only give a 15-day Visa, then I might just avoid the country altogether. But, that is just my personal preference. 15 days is barely enough to get my feet wet!
How To Extend Your Visa
Sometimes you can get a 30-day visa and you are allowed to extend the Visa after you have entered. Sometimes you can’t extend it at all. Sometimes you can extend it for another 30 days, and sometimes you can extend it for another 3 months. Every country is different.
In addition, always take note of the location you must go to if you need to extend the Visa. Some countries provide only one specific location within a 500-kilometer radius, to exten. Some countries require that you wear specific clothing when entering the Visa department. Always research the rules and regulations before you visit a country. If the website is confusing (I see this often), then contact an embassy that represents this country. They will know more.
Cost of the Visa
Again, we come to the cost. Some countries you are charged a massive amount of money for a short Visa just because you come from a first world country. Sometimes your Visa is cheaper than other countries because you come from a first world country. Sometimes visas are incredibly expensive if you come from a third world country, and sometimes it is incredibly cheap if you come from a third world country. Every single country is completely different. Sometimes, Visas are free for 30 days and then charge high prices if you want to extend.
5) Compile Options and Make a Decision
So based on all of the information that you have recently researched, you should be able to choose the first country with confidence. You have to weigh all of the options yourself. To some people, money is the biggest concern, and that’s completely fine! To other people, avoiding a complicated visa process is important. And to another category of people, experiencing a specific type of beauty is the most important thing to them. Everyone is different. Everyone is correct. You simply need to weigh your options and choose a country that interests you the most!
Be Safe & Enjoy Your First Solo Trip!
Regardless of where you go, I hope this article helped you choose your first solo trip destination. And just to be on the side of caution – be sure to take the time to learn about why you should never travel without travel insurance. You’ll thank me later.
I sincerely hope you have the time of your life! And who knows, maybe you will be like me – someone who planned to travel for 2 months, but never returned home to stay. I know, I’m a bit of an extremist. As I said, everyone’s different…