Solo Travel Tips (Especially If It’s Your First Time)

Solo Travel Tips (Especially If It’s Your First Time)

I’m a big believer in traveling solo, and I encourage everyone to do it at least once in their lives. But to tell you the truth, I didn’t read any solo travel tips before I jumped in. It cost me a few bucks and lost some time, so don’t make the same mistakes as I did.

To make it easy for you, I prepared a few solo travel tips!

Read Travel Blogs Before Your Trip

Solo travel tips - Grand Palace Bangkok Thailand
Bangkok, Thailand

This is really important. At first, I was skeptical about blogs because I thought they might be under some partnership contract, therefore slightly biased, but I was so wrong. There are blogs that leave honest reviews about everything. They have amazing tips that would be helpful.

It’s also why I started this blog—to share my experiences that can hopefully guide you. I choose to share my personal stories because there are already lots of blogs out there with detailed and objective itineraries.

I stay as honest as possible and tell you everything through my posts. They’re subjective, yes, but you can trust my judgment. My friends know me for being picky soooo… Hah.

Prepare Itinerary (Even if It’s Just a Rough Draft)

It depends on my schedule, but my usual planning goes like this: find a flight, check what I can do there. Compared to my detailed, checklist-laden life, I try to keep my travels spontaneous (I said TRY). So about a week or less before my trip, I search for the spots I can go to. I then group the spots that are close to each other, then map them out to Day 1, 2, 3, etc.

Here’s a sample of a rough draft I created for my Bali itinerary.

Solo travel tips - Bali sample itinerary

I also note spots that are good for a specific time of the day like “beach xyz for sunset.”

It’s up to you if you want a detailed itinerary. You can probably get a thing or two about how I stay organized from my tips here.

The best thing about these solo travel tips for itinerary is that you won’t have to depend your schedule on anyone or anything else. You have all your time.

Do Your Homework About the Place You’re Visiting

Batanes itinerary
Batanes

Traveling is not only about you exploring new places. It also goes for the people living in the place you’re visiting—you’re technically invading their home, kinda.

Make sure to research further. Know their basic public laws. There are some things that may be legal in your country but not in another. Don’t try to go against it especially if you’re wrecking someone else’s culture.

If you see them eating with their bare hands, try it. If you see them removing their shoes before going inside a house, do that too. These are once-in-a-lifetime experiences to immerse yourself in the culture. There are also destinations that are highly conservative, so avoid packing revealing clothes or doing inappropriate things in public.

Respect the culture even if you’re not breaking any laws. Period.

Download Travel Apps

Travel apps are really useful in this digital age. You have almost anything right at your fingertips. Kind of like your secretary while traveling solo.

Personally, I have the following apps:

  • Airbnb (accommodation; to also compare the prices if you book a hotel)
  • Uber (transportation apps depend on the country you’re in; in case you’re lost somewhere and it’s the only way to go)
  • Yelp (depends on the country you’re in; for restaurant search and food reviews)
  • Any translator app
  • Any offline map
  • Any cheap flight tracker (I use Skyscanner to check rates but I directly book through the airline)

I live in the Philippines, and Zomato is important to me because I like knowing what to order before I go to the restaurant. If you’re not as calculated as me, you can ask the staff about their best-sellers.

Keep Track of Your Budget

This is particularly important for budget-travelers. I’ve experienced traveling solo with literally zero on my last day. I’ve experienced splurging and I didn’t care if I was spending all my savings.

Both instances will make you think about how you spend your money. If you are on a tight budget, it might be best to hold off the trip. You’ll end up missing out on some spots because you didn’t have enough money. If you have enough, though, you also need to control your spending. You wouldn’t want to spend all your money on one travel.

Also keep track of your budget while traveling. You can use some mobile apps or manually count it.

Personally, my wallet has three sections and one hidden pocket:

  • Transportation going to and from the airport (it’s important to know that I can safely go to the airport and back home)
  • Tours
  • Food & souvenir

The hidden pocket is kind of like my emergency money in case I run out. I didn’t add accommodations because I book and pay them before the trip.

Prepare Contingency Plans

Solo travel tips - Bali
Bali, Indonesia

Another very important thing you need to keep in mind from my solo travel tips is to prepare contingency plans. Always.

There are times when you have to cancel your island-hopping because the weather is not good. You wouldn’t want to sulk in your hotel room doing nothing, right? For that, add a few good restaurants or nearby spots you can visit to keep your day occupied but also budget-friendly. Or maybe there’s another beach you can go that’s safer.

Pack Efficiently

For quick weekend getaways, I usually bring a big backpack and a small duffel bag. Or one of those.

I make sure to pack the following:

  • Underwear (of course, but with like three extra pairs just in case)
  • 2 shirts to sleep in
  • 3-5 outfits for tours (dress, shorts, or blouse)
  • 2 pairs of swimwear or any cute summer outfit
  • Scarf (this is highly versatile!)
  • Small towel
  • Sandals (I like slingback shoes because they work for both casual and classy)
  • Small bag for my wallet, phone
  • Toiletries!!! (Travel toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, tissue, insect repellant, sunscreen, lotion, etc)
  • Gadgets and chargers

I bring a scarf because I can use it for both warm and cold weather. You can also use it if you’re visiting a conservative place to cover your tank top—if you didn’t know that beforehand. If you already know about the city’s traditional culture, please respect it and avoid bringing revealing clothes.

What I wear to the airport (that you can also pack):

  • Shirt
  • Jeans (a comfy one like mom jeans)
  • Jacket/Cardigan (but I prefer one with a hood in case it rains)
  • Flats/Loafer

I choose this simple look so that I don’t have to put them all in my bag, creating more space for other stuff.

I’d rather bring a backpack because I don’t want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere with huge luggage. It instantly makes you look like a tourist, and you don’t know what could happen.

Which brings me to my next point…

Try Not to Look Like a Tourist

I don’t want to be the one to say this, but there are disadvantages when you’re a tourist especially if you’re visiting a secluded place. I’m not saying this applies everywhere but people might take advantage of you. Try to blend in the crowd if you can.

Since you’re new to the place, the probability of you getting scammed is high. You’d think you got a good deal but in reality the price is way cheaper than what you’re offered. It’s important to know the estimate spending in the city you’re visiting.

This is just one of the many things.

Support Local Tours

Solo travel tips - Siargao Philippines
Siargao, Philippines

I know we have online platforms to book tours, but more often than not, these are purely business. It probably still depends on the country you’re visiting.

If you’re traveling around the Philippines, you can find local tours on Facebook pages and groups. It’s good that we have online reviews to decide whether we’ll book them or not. But the main point is that it’s a way to support local businesses.

Plus, they know a lot about their city more than anyone else. You can even ask them about the other secret spots!

I always say this and I can’t stress it enough—please tip your tour guide. A little goes a long way.

Get an International Driving Permit

If you want to keep your trip budget-friendly, it’s best to rent a car or motorbike/scooter. With that, you’re going to need an international driver’s license. You may check this link for more information on the international driving permit if you live in the Philippines.

However, I prefer tours as I love hearing all the stories from the locals. I know I can easily Google them but it would be more sentimental if I hear it personally. I swear this is not because I don’t know how to use a scooter! Hah.

Bring a Portable Charger

I don’t own one and I really need to buy one, but so far I haven’t had any problems with my phone dying while I’m outside. It’s because I don’t use my phone much when traveling. I travel to have some me-time.

BUT, of course, it would be a bummer if you’re lost somewhere and you can’t contact your driver. To be safe, bring one, especially if you’re out the whole day and you still need to drive all the way up to the mountains for a charger as I did in Camiguin.

Write in a Journal

Solo travel tips - journal

Even if you don’t write. Even if it’s a small pocket notebook.

I think it’s an amazing experience to write how you feel while you’re in a coffee shop alone in a strange city. Photographs are one thing, but to actually capture how you felt at that moment—it is something, as cliche as it sounds.

If you’re not the type to write, you can save the journaling for another day and write in it every time you travel alone. It will be like a book of your solo travels.

I hope these solo travel tips can help you in the future. I’d love to hear some of your stories, too!

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