Alright, so the time is here. You’re ready to book your first trip abroad…. and SOLO. Whether you’re tired of your friends bailing on you last minute, needed time to yourself to regroup, or even just wanted to get that empowering feeling of exploring a new country without adhering to other people’s plans… I GOT YOU. From booking, all the way down to exploring the foreign land. I’ll give you a step by step guide to having a successful first solo trip.
Step 1: Booking
After you have decided on where you want to go, it’s time to find the best price to get you there. Even if I’ve been saving for this trip for months, I’m STILL looking for a deal. (As you should too) Typically when you bundle your needs (i.e. flight, hotel, cars) your total price comes out cheaper. Below are my top 5 booking websites that I use for my travels.
With most of those sites, there’s opportunities for you to gain rewards points. Sign up for it, it’s free & definitely comes in handy when you least expect it. You also get “member” perks where you get a discount on top of the discount or access to exclusive offers that normal inquires don’t get.
Bonus tip: When booking, try to book with a hotel that had 24hr service desk or an AIRBNB with self access/passcode entry.
Step 2: Research
Okay, so now that you’ve picked which booking site had the best deals for what you were looking for now, we research..
Researching before hand can definitely save you headaches and also money. Lots of it. Here’s some basic questions you would want to know the answer to before taking your trip:
- What attractions do I want to see?
- How far is the hotel/AIRBNB from the airport?
- Do i have to use taxis or do they have uber/Lyft?
- How far is my hotel/Airbnb from most of my attractions?
- What is the currency difference?
- Are there strict guidelines to what i can wear?
- What’s the weather like at the time of year I’m going?
ESSENTIAL . Knowing the answers to these questions are definitely a must. Taxi fares do add up, especially if you’re in a country where they are not obligated to turn on their meter and then knowing you are from America they can(and WILL) charge you whatever they want. Sign up for uber with my promo code & receive $2 off your first 3 rides!!
Even some countries have a set rate for different places around the city no matter where you’re coming from, you have to pay that price – so booking your hotel/AIRBNB in the heart of everything is a good move for you. Knowing the weather is also beneficial, does it rain a lot that time of year? Did you pack an umbrella or do you have to find the nearest convenience store and pay $32 because you were unprepared? Or what if it’s chilly in the morning but heats up during the day, did you bring a light jacket for your early morning tours?
What about currency exchange? Do you know how much your currency is worth to the currency of the country you’re visiting? You might want to know so that when getting change back, you are getting scammed. On my past solo trip i downloaded this app & it was simple, convenient & a life savior.
Step 3: Maneuvering
You’ve finally touched down, checked into your living arrangements (be sure to grab a business card of the hotel you’re staying at & keep it in your wallet) & now you’re ready to hit the streets and start exploring.
Firstly, trust everyone but trust no one… Be mindful of what you say, even lie a little if you have to. Allow your natural gut instincts to waver you. Watch who you tell you’re traveling alone with and who you say it by. I typically let the conversation flow before i offer up any information about myself, where I’m staying and my plans for the day. Countless times while in Bahrain the Saudi men asked where I was staying, and if i didn’t feel safe enough to give the truthful answer – my reply was either “with a friend” or “i can’t remember the name of it“. Try to stay inside the building while waiting for your ride to pick you up. It lessens the solicitation of being asked if you need a ride. This applies to both women & men! If it’s a taxi, and you’re telling you’re driver your destination you can even say that you’re “meeting a friend there”. The point is, you never know… Friendly conversations can be not soo friendly. Be aware of your surroundings, what you say and where you go.
Another useful app to help you communicate better with the locals is google translate. It comes with an auto translate where you can snap a photo of what you wanted translated and it’ll do all the work for you. It also helps to try to learn some of the common words before hand too (i.e. bathroom, taxi, mall, thank you etc.)
Step 4: Social Engagement
Although, yes…you’re traveling solo. That DOES NOT mean you have to be by yourself the entire time. (Unless that’s your preference) There are ways you can meet people that isn’t your typical random encounter at the local market. Before i go on a trip, I post in one of the traveling groups on Facebook that I’m in. There’s soo many different groups out there that can satisfy your needs. Black travel, single travel, black single travel, elite travel, traveling moms, female travel…whatever you can think of, I’m sure there’s a group. Don’t be timid, introduce yourself tell them your interests and you’ll be surprised at how helpful and open people are to giving you the ins and outs of where they’ve been or even taking you around if they live there.
If you’re seasoned with social media & a complete social butterfly… create a tinder (if you don’t already have one) and update your bio saying you’re in town and open to meeting up with people. For me, I give my instagram if they want to meet up, from there I can filter through and see who I’m most compatible with and move forward.
Again… trust your judgement. Trust your instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, then it isn’t right.
If social media apps aren’t your thing, that’s completely okay. While dining out alone try sitting at the bar…even if you don’t drink. Most people who sit at the bar are alone as well or probably a really outgoing couple who’s super sociable. Some of the best conversations happen there and you can even listen in on other conversations to hear of what’s going on in the area and things to do. For me, being a lady I’m usually the only woman at the bar and conversations are quickly birthed.
To me, I’ve noticed people are soo much more friendly out of the country then they are in the country. So loosen up a bit – these people don’t know you and 9/10 you’ll never see them again. (well of course you guys hit it off and exchange information and plan a trip together…lol)
Step 5: Documentation
If you’re anything like me, I love to keep memories. Sure they’re stored away in my memory but nothing beats scrolling through your archives and watching footage of your past trips and basically reliving the moment.
Traveling solo means either awkwardly having to ask random people “can you please take a picture of me” or dragging around your tripods, drones, selfie sticks & go pros everywhere. There’s definitely pros and cons to both. While asking for a picture by someone random, they might not get your whole outfit or completely miss the dope ass architecture behind you which was the reasoning behind wanting a picture in the first place. OR, while trucking along your photo/video equipment, it gets heavy…sometimes it’s inconvenient if you’re in a heavily trafficked tourist area and you didn’t beat the rush because you slept in from the night before of partying. :/
Either way, get it done. These moments are definitely worth being documented. If you’re an iPhone user and your storage is running low after you deleted hella pictures and apps i recommend downloading “google photos”. It continuously downloads your photos on your phone to a “cloud” and then you can delete the photos that’s in your iPhone “photo” app. Click below to download!
Most of my pictures are taken by me because usually when I ask people they can’t capture the vision that I have in my mind. Don’t feel like going through the fuss of asking people to do it? You can buy the tech i used for these pictures below… or click the “shop” button in the menu 😉