The thought makes you anxious, right? Trust me, I’m right there with you. For me, it’s cycling through the questions of, “Where do I want to go? When do I want to go? What can I afford? Why does everything taste like copper?” Then, I’ll end up putting it off and watching something on YouTube. If any of that hits home, then have no fear. We’re going to get through this together. (Except the tasting copper bit, that’s hospital material)
To Start, Don't Freak Out
Planning a solo trip is a stressful idea if you’ve never done it before. Most people don’t even like to eat alone, let alone go to a different location. It takes a lot of confidence to get that far out of your comfort zone. Just taking this step forward will put you in a new subgroup of society, the solo traveler. So, buckle up!
Examine why you want to travel alone
What’s your purpose for traveling alone? Do you want a break to get away from everyone? Are you looking to meet new people? Or are you doing it for the bragging rights? Any and all of these reasons are important to consider since they’ll affect where you want to go. Think hard and write down your reasons, they’ll be important once you figure out where you want to go.
Decide how much time you can take off
This is the part where working in America kind of sucks. Between the standard 2 weeks of paid vacation and around 3 days of sick leave, it’s tough to balance your desire to travel with, well, not going broke. If you live in South Florida and can only manage a weekend trip (like me), then that limits where you can viably travel to without taking vacation days. Figure out how long you want to travel for and then we can move on to…
Mint: an app that helps you see how much you’ve spent on food
Budgeting: the make-or-break step
Smart savings coupled with the use of credit card hacking can make an otherwise unaffordable trip become a reality. Check out my post on how I save money for travel to get some quick (and somewhat obvious) tips on putting money away. In addition, using a credit card with a great spending bonus will make your flight cheaper (or free!) and your wallet happy. I’ve found that using both Mint and Digit to track my expenditures and automate my savings really got me in the groove of budgeting for a trip.
The best flight guide for the indecisive
Choosing a destination
It’s all leading up to this, the moment of truth. This is where your reasons to travel will come into play. If you’re wanting to get away from everyone, a weekend getaway at a tropical destination might be your best bet. If you’re looking to make a ton of new friends over the course of a week, perhaps a hostel in Lisbon is more your speed. If you still can’t decide, try using SkyScanner. You can input your home airport, the estimated time of travel, and your budgetary restrictions. Then, it’ll list out every flight that meets your parameters. It’s a great way to reverse-engineer a trip! There are several other useful apps, like Hopper and GTFO, that you can utilize. For more info on those, click here.
Lisbon has some pretty great hostels
Planning your trip
And now, the fun part, it’s time to start planning the nitty-gritty of your trip! Where do you want to stay? Do you want to crash in really cool Air BnBs? Or would you rather live it up in a hostel? There are plenty of beautiful locations at every price point. For hostels, you can use Hostel World. It’s a website that lists and rates every hostel in an area of your choosing. I’d make sure to look at ratings (I’d stay away from anything below 4 stars), and recent reviews. A friend of mine narrowly missed getting bedbugs in Berlin (say that 5 times fast) by double-checking the reviews. For other accommodations, anything from Airbnb and Couchsurfing are popular mainstays.
You’re on your way to taking your first solo trip. As of writing this post, I’m at the “Choosing a Destination” phase of booking my first solo trip. Do you have any suggestions on where I should go?
Comment below and let me know!