To be honest, some people are on the fence. They are unsure whether or not they should go on a solo traveling trip and when they should begin. How do you know when you are ‘ready’? Well, today, I want to give you some information to consider so you can make that choice with confidence.
When Should I Solo Travel for the First Time?
You should start solo traveling when you feel mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially prepared for just about anything. Solo traveling can be one of the most rewarding, yet challenging, experiences of your life. It’s important that you don’t leave and start your journey before you feel ready – because the chances are, you aren’t.
You Need To Be Mentally & Emotionally Prepared To Start Solo Traveling
Regardless of the type of Solo Traveler you choose to be, it’s important that you prepare yourself mentally. This may sound a little bit strange, but consider this:
Imagine you have just landed at the airport all by yourself on your very first solo trip. You have the address of the hotel that you plan to stay in for the first night, and as you approach the doors to exit the airport, taxi drivers approach you and start to speak to you and their local language. You have absolutely no idea what they are saying to you. Another Taxi Driver comes up to you and then another, and then another. You have a small crowd of taxi drivers shouting at you trying to get your business all in a language that you do not understand.
People start to stare at you from every angle of the airport. This interaction starts to cause a scene. Luckily someone in the corner notices this and approaches you and starts to translate everything into English so you understand what is happening. This person is kind enough to translate your address to the taxi driver who then escorts you to their car. You finally arrive at the destination and when you exit the car, the man demands more money than what you agreed upon at the airport.
You walk into the hotel and the receptionist tells you that your room is not ready yet, so you must sit in the chair for an hour and a half until the previous family completes their late checkout. Your room is finally ready, but the elevator isn’t working, so you go up 4 flights of stairs to your room. The man takes one bag from you to lighten your load and carries it to your room. You ask for the wifi password, and the employee tells you that it hasn’t been working for months. The man then asks for money because he carried one of your bags.
Now it is difficult for you to plan your next move or contact anyone because you do not have internet access. You inquire about getting a local SIM card but they tell you that the local policy is a 3-day waiting period for foreigners. Frustrated, yet?
Keep in mind you have only been in this country for 3 hours in total. I can guarantee if this scenario actually happened to you, your stress level will start to increase dramatically. You may be thinking to yourself, ’yeah but how often do scenarios like this actually happen?’ And as someone who has been traveling the world for almost four solid years, I can tell you that this type of thing becomes the norm in some of the underdeveloped countries.
You simply need to be aware that situations like this do happen – and you need to be able to handle the CONS of Solo Traveling without becoming angry or frustrated. These emotions will only ruin your trip. Handling yourself is a big part of solo traveling. Seriously. Things rarely ever go according to plan (mainly Introvert/Extrovert Solo Traveling).
You Need To Be Physically Prepared for Solo Traveling
Now I don’t mean that you need to be a bodybuilder or be able to run a marathon. But, being physically fit is definitely a plus. As a long term Solo Traveler, I can tell you that in order to travel for a long period of time, you need to save money wherever possible (unless money isn’t a problem, of course).
The best way to save money is by walking more often than you would imagine. Taxis can become quite expensive when used multiple times daily. But beyond transportation, what about visiting a local park? Once you arrive at a beautiful destination my guess is that you will want to walk around and explore. Not every park offers private golf carts to drive around everywhere. More often than not, the only means of exploring is by your own feet.
As a general rule of thumb, I recommend that you can handle a 2-hour non-stop walk every day without a problem. That would be my bare-minimum recommendation before starting to travel solo. Obviously anything beyond that is a plus.
You Need To Be Financially Prepared for Solo Traveling
You may think this sounds quite obvious, and it should be, but apparently it is not obvious to everyone. Would you believe me if I told you that I have seen foreigners living on the streets of foreign countries? Well, it’s absolutely true – I have seen this multiple times in multiple countries.
I have traveled extensively through some of the Southeast Asian countries and I have seen foreigners sleeping on the streets within the cities of these Asian countries. I’ve never stopped to ask the stories of any of these individuals, but I can only assume that it was either related to some type of drug that they should not have been using and it got out of control, or, they simply weren’t aware of proper budgeting practices which caused them to run out of money too soon.
Either way, it’s important to be aware of potential pitfalls. It is important that you have access to more funds than what you think you may need. I can guarantee there will be things that pop up during your trip that you won’t expect – and these things will cost you extra money.
It would be a terrible idea if you only bring the amount of money you need in order to break even at the end of your trip. Please do yourself a favor and plan on giving yourself access to at least 20% more income than you think you will need, as a cushion. Running out of money and sleeping on the street in a foreign country is not my idea of a good time. Learn how to Travel Cheaper & Longer.
First Time As A Guided Solo Travel Traveler
The Pros & Cons of Guided Solo Traveling proves that it’s the easiest form of solo travel. And to be honest, there’s not a lot of preparation involved. I do feel that you still need to be mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially prepared. However, the degree to which you need to prepare is not as high as those who are starting their travel as an Extrovert or Introvert Solo Traveler.
Usually, Guided Solo Travelers pay for everything in advance and really do not need to budget much at all (maybe just a little bit of spending cash). A tour guide is almost always by your side which is kind of like having a buffer between you and society. If anything bad or strange happens, the tour guide can usually handle it.
First Time As An Extrovert Or An Introvert Solo Traveler
These two categories of solo traveling are a bit more advanced. The level of preparation required is significantly higher. As a Solo Traveler, you will be completely away from any type of travel guide or any other foreign individual (compared to the country that you are traveling in) to help you. You will need to budget everything, prepare mentally, physically, and emotionally. You may be exposed to wildly different cultures, unexpected scams, new customs, new laws, new…everything.
They Key To Solo Travel Preparation
If you have read to this point, hopefully I didn’t scare you. That was not my goal. My goal is to Simply make you aware of some things that you were not previously aware of. The best way to prepare yourself for an upcoming solo travel trip is to be aware of the potential problems that may happen while traveling. Each country is unique, so do research on each.
If you are aware of the negativities or the problems that are possible to arrive, when they do arrive, you will know how to handle the situation significantly better than if you were not aware of them at all. Give yourself an hour and do some research about the next location you will travel to, solo.
Preparing financially, well, you should understand the basic costs of hotels, taxis, restaurants, and/or anything else that you plan on doing, then multiply that by how many times per day you will travel there. That is your general budget. Now, add an additional 20%, minimum, to your bank account as a backup. Don’t forget to learn about Where You Should Go on Your 1st Solo Trip!