Everyone who’s gone solo travelling will tell you how daunting and yet liberating it is. You get to live life on your own terms, explore things, do what you enjoy, make new friends, eat good food and just find out what it’s like to be you. However, to ensure that you truly enjoy solo travelling, it is essential that you do it well the first time. It is an exciting adventure where you need to tackle so many things on your own – from managing your money, socialising to planning your time in a new place. There is a rush every time you do something right and the thrill of going out of your comfort zone is incomparable.

We know it can be scary. But remember, it’s the uncertainty that’s scaring you. If you plan your solo adventure well, such that all your uncertain fears have a solution, you’ll have no choice but to have fun!

This brief guide to acing solo travelling in 2023 will help you nail your first trip with yourself.

I. How to plan your first solo trip?

The image shows a woman solo travelling in Goa and standing inside a local Goan house in Aldona.
Solo traveller exploring the ancient houses of Aldona. PC Crishnaa Verenkar

You have your vacation fund and you’ve decided where you want to go on your first solo trip. The next step would be to lay out a detailed plan about what you will do and where you will be. If being out by yourself scares you, you can even consider group tours. You’re still out on your own with strangers; the only difference is you don’t need to worry about planning. Regardless of how you choose to experience your first solo travel journey, here are some pointers to help you out:

  1. Plan your solo travelling stay
  2. Make a budget for your trip
  3. Don’t be afraid to start small
  4. Find and build your network of solo travellers
  5. Take it slow and be patient with yourself

#1 Plan where you will stay when solo travelling

As a solo traveller, your best bet would be to book hostels. Not only are they cost-effective, but they are also the best way to make new friends. Solo travelling does not mean that you have to do the entire trip on your own. You can always explore – meet new people, have crazy adventures together and leave with some new friendships in your pocket. The best websites to book hostels are hostelworld and booking.com. Check the reviews, ratings and the property’s proximity to public transport. Call the place up and ask them what the best way to get around from there is.

Pro tip: Book your stay a 3-4 days before your trip, if you are travelling during off-season. There is a chance that hostels reduce their pricing to encourage last-minute bookings. If you want an Airbnb to yourself, you can use the same hack to negotiate with the owner for a better price!

#2 Budget you solo travelling trip

On the Mapusa River Bridge in Aldona. PC Crishnaa Vernekar

Everyone wants to travel, but not many know how to save and manage money to travel solo. Start by prioritising your expenses. Every person who travels more than 3-4 times a week swears by sacrifice. Cut down on your shopping, eating outside and other frivolous expenses. Put aside some money every month for your dream destination.

When you budget for a location, consider everything such as tickets, public transport, seasonal clothes, eating out, guided tours, cabs, stay, shopping and other emergency expenses. If you are planning to visit an international country, consider the conversion costs and do some research on the daily food expenses as well.

It’s not easy, but websites such as budgetyourtrip offer rough budget estimates for both domestic and international solo travel destinations.

#3 Start small as a solo traveller

You might have big dreams for your first solo trip that pan out as the perfect video montage in your head. However, there are several factors to consider when you travel by yourself. Assess your own socialising skills, resourcefulness and problem-solving abilities. While not everyone is a pro at tackling everything, you need to be able to keep your emotions in check when you’re out on your own. So if you feel like you might not be ready to travel alone, consider solo travelling with a group. Apart from that, you can plan a short weekend trip to a familiar or safe destination. Goa, Rajasthan and Kerala are some well-loved solo travelling destinations in India. This way you have an easy way out and can familiarise yourself with the novel feelings of travelling alone without falling apart.

#4 Create a system of solo travellers

Female solo travelling in Goa at the bridge on the Mapusa river in Aldona.

Solo travelling should not be isolating. You don’t want to be in Paris looking up at the Eiffel Tower and feeling sad because you are feeling lonely.

  • Add your close ones on your emergency contact list who know what you’re up to.
  • Share your locations with your friends and try not to stay out too late until you get used to the place. 
  • Use online platforms such as Couchsurfing, LanguageLabs and Facebook Groups to build connections with locals so you have someone to fall back on in a new place.
  • Take part in guided walking tours so you can meet new people and connect with them.
  • Most hostels also organise fun events as ice-breakers. So who knows? You might just find your next travel partner there!

Pro Tip: Avoid posting your stay-related information on your social media until you have left the place and don’t use public Wi-Fi without a VPN to keep your data safe. 

#5 Take it slow when you travel solo

It takes time to adjust to being in a new place all by yourself. Take it slow the first few days and keep a few empty days in your itinerary for you to adjust. This way you can take your time to warm up to a new location, its people, public transport system and money. Hang around at your hostel – most of them usually have events in the evenings to get solo travellers together. Get to know someone, and see if they’d like to tag along with you. Just remember to be kind to yourself even when you don’t manage to stick to your plan.

II. How to avoid feeling lonely as a solo traveller?

FEmale solo traveller Goa tastes local goan food on the aldona experience with soul travelling. The Goan food dishes in the image inclue chops, pinagr, patoleo, bolinhas and baath.
Tasting Goan food in a local’s home on the Aldona Village Experience. PC Crishnaa

Even seasoned solo travellers do end up feeling lonely, especially when they’re always on the move. It’s crucial to ensure a good balance between personal time and socialising so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Attend your hostel’s events, ask the reception for suggestions on group activities such as food walks or workshops, or just drop by in a cafe with an open-mic. If you are travelling within India, popular tourist destinations such as Goa, Pondicherry, Mysore, Jaipur and even Mumbai offer some exciting guided walking tours by organisations such as Gully Tours and more.

While Soul Travelling takes it a step beyond with some personalised local experiences, every city has similar group events to offer. You can even find clubs, cafes, live shows and other smaller events where you can meet new people and connect with them.

Final thoughts on solo travelling

If you are someone who’s intimidated by the idea of being out on your own, just push yourself to take the first step. Solo travelling isn’t some walk into a haunted house – it’s just a step out of your comfort zone. Even on difficult days, the key is to keep taking the next step. The world is filled with amazing people and breathtaking experiences that will make all your effort feel worth it. Just remember to plan well, start small and take it slow and you can ace solo travelling in 2023.

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