So, you’ve officially decided to travel alone. Seeing countless women venture out on their own to travel the world has inspired you to embark on your own solo journey - but where do you begin? In this article, I’ll share with you all the steps I take when planning a solo trip and a handy resource you can use to make solo travel planning even easier.
Keep reading for helpful tips you can use to plan your first solo trip...
Step One: Get the scoop 🍨
The first (and probably most obvious) step is to decide where you want to go. Once a place has piqued my interest, I like to start by getting a better idea of what it would be like to visit. I binge Youtube for travel vlogs and search through Facebook groups to learn about the experiences others have had while traveling there and things I should know before going. Like what the visa process is like, how it is for solo travelers, and if the country has any strict/specific travel rules (looking at you, Dubai). If possible, I’ll also reach out to someone that I know who lives there or has visited before. Hearing about others’ experiences, good or bad, doesn’t necessarily deter me from visiting (and it shouldn’t for you either) but it is helpful to know what to expect before you go, so you can level-set your expectations and be better prepared to have an enjoyable solo trip.
Step Two: Think through the travel logistics 🤓
The next step in my solo travel planning process is to figure out the logistics of how to make it happen. I extend my research to travel blogs and look up more information on things like the average cost of living, ideal times to visit, best neighborhoods, etc. Knowing these details helps me figure out how much to budget, what to pack, and when to travel.
Step Three: Mark the calendar 🗓
If the travel destination fits my budget and I still want to visit after doing all of my solo travel research, I pick a date and add the trip to my Google calendar. Sometimes my travel dates change after looking up flights and accommodations, so I note them as tentative until things are booked and confirmed. This gives me the flexibility to change my travel dates if I see a cheaper flight or booking available on a different date close by.
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Step Four: Find accommodations 🛏
The next step is to find a place to stay. For me, this is the most fun and exciting part! I mainly just use Airbnb and Booking.com for my solo travel accommodations but there are plenty of travel search engines out there to choose from. Because of the overwhelming amount of options, I don’t like to purchase a place the first time I see it. Instead, when I see a place that I like I mark it as “Favorite” and save it to a list specifically for that destination. I’ll spend a few minutes a day reviewing my favorites and adding to the list, and once I’m satisfied with the number of options I have (or if I start noticing a lot of options are booking up) I’ll thoroughly read through reviews, rank my options from good to greatest, and then book my top favorite.
Step Five: Turn on flight alerts
My process for booking flights is pretty similar. I use Google Flights to find flights for the destination and turn on alerts to get notified when prices go up or down. Additionally, if my itinerary is flexible and there’s a reasonable difference in cost, I’ll set flight alerts a day or two before and after my travel dates as well. Once flight alerts are set, I’ll decide on a deadline for when to book and monitor prices and ticket availability in the meantime. The Hopper app can be helpful for determining a “deadline” to book, however, I haven’t had the greatest experiences with them and still recommend using Google Flights to actually book your flight.
If you’re planning a solo trip to multiple nearby countries, consider other means of travel outside of just flying. Getting around by bus, boat, train, etc might offer a more comfortable and/or affordable option to flying (i.e. taking the Eurostar from Paris to London).
Step Six: Make a list 🗺
The next step in my solo travel planning process is to collect all the recommendations I’ve seen and heard on where to eat, places to go, and things to see. To do this, I find each place in Google Maps and save it as a pin on a list for that destination. I also like to add notes, so if a place is a local favorite or a restaurant has scheduled nights for nightlife, there's a helpful note right in the app to remind me. Having everything together in a Google Maps list makes it easier to visualize on the map where the centric areas are and determine the best location for solo travel accommodations.
Step Seven: Plan for fun 🧩
Lastly, to ensure there will be enough time to fit in everything I want to do on my solo trip, I coordinate an itinerary of all the things I want to see and do while I’m there. For each day I plan a certain amount of things to do depending on how much time they require. For example, if I want to do a day trip activity, I’ll leave my schedule open for that night. That way if I come back exhausted or later than expected, there’s no pressure to do more that day. And if I still want something else to do, I always have a list of places to explore on Google Maps. Having a trip itinerary is extremely useful for planning ahead and making reservations in advance. This gives you a better chance of actually being able to do everything on your travel bucket list and get the most out of your solo travel experience.