In 2015 my sister and I took off to live in London…much to my mother’s horror we went with the decisive notion ‘Oh, I’m not sure when I’m coming back to Sydney’
Needless to say it only took a few months for that idea to change. However, I’d decided that my time in London could not be complete until I’d spent time exploring the continent. I decided to take one month off to travel around Europe. Though I still paid rent for my gorgeous (but tiny) flat in Central London and still needed to eat and drink (at least more than the lattes I made at work) so I couldn’t afford to go on a organized tour group or book everything through a travel agent, which meant that I needed to plan everything from flights and accommodation, to metro tickets and guide books myself. Needless to say it was a terrifying prospect for a 21 year old. It can be stressful and draining- so much so that it can make you think, “is it worth it?” However, planning my solo trip around Europe was one of the best things I ever did for myself.
By planning your travels alone, you gain a confidence in your ability to handle yourself, it makes you smart with your money and, most importantly, it allows you to get the most out of your trip. You get to experience cities the way you’ll enjoy the most- you won’t simply be ticking off famous places you’ve seen.
So once you’ve decided to travel, what are the next steps? No doubt you have a general idea of where you’d like to- America, Europe, Africa and, believe it or not, that’s all you need to get started! Here are some tips to help you when all you have is an idea, your laptop and your wallet.
- Figure out what you want to achieve from this trip
This may seem obvious i.e. you want to see the world but actually figuring out why you’re doing this is an important aspect of your planning. For example, on my first solo trip to Amsterdam I’d never stayed in a hostel before. So I researched some of the best reviewed hostels in the center of the city. I knew that I wanted to try hostels and made that a main priority. Think about not just what you want to see, but what are you goals for the trip
- Do a quick google
Now a stress the word ‘quick’, not because I don’t think research is important but because it’s so easy to get bogged down with information that before you know it you have 5 windows open and about 30 tabs relating to everything and anything about the place you’re travelling to. Instead, just get an idea of what there is to do there. Are there a lot of hotels, motels, hostels, AirBnBs? Whatever your accommodation of choice is, see if there are options and do a little price comparing. How do you get there? Does it have to be by plane?
- Make a budget
A daunting prospect, even at the best of times, but necessary and responsible, particularly if money is tight. Think about how much you’re willing to spend on your trip, what you’d be willing to sacrifice in order to make it work. Remember, you still need to come back home, so you can’t have it crumble while you’re away!
- Book only the essentials
I’d recommend booking your accommodation beforehand, simply for sake of ease but also for safety. You may be so absorbed in this fascinating new city you’re exploring that it’s 7pm and you’re not sure where to hit the hay that night. If there’s a particular museum or attraction you want to see, research and see if there’s a long wait time for tickets. No one wants to wait 50 minutes for a ticket when you’re on vacation- that and you’ll have no one to bitch about it to.
That’s it! Short and sweet tips to get you on your way for your first solo trip! It’s essential to remain safe and vigilant when you’re by yourself, make friends where you can and enjoy yourself. You’ll learn something about when it’s just you and the whole city 🙂