If you have always travelled with friends or partners, you will see that travelling solo is an entirely different experience.
You can like it or hate it. Most people like it. That is why it is so popular among travellers. You are on your own, free do to whatever you want and go wherever you want.
But, there are some mistakes that first solo travellers make at the beginning (some of them I did myself on my first solo travel) that can completely change the trip or even ruin it.
Here is a list of mistakes to avoid to ensure your solo travel will be a success.
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Read 40 Mistakes to avoid when travelling solo
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1. Don't Listen to people who have never travelled alone:
Only those who have already experienced it can give you advice. So do not listen to whoever will tell you what to do, plan, etc., because most of the time, they don't know it.
And by saying this, I don't mean to don't listen to your family and friends when they tell you to be constantly vigilant, to be careful and safe. They are right to worry about you (they love you after all, so let them show you their love).
I am talking about practical advice. Travel solo is completely different from travel with other people, and it can also be more dangerous in some cases.
But don't worry, on my website you will find everything you need about every type of travel.
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2. Don't Be scared or shy to ask other solo travellers some tips:
Who better than someone who already did it, maybe many times, can give you some precious advice?
Remember, listen to everyone and then make your own choices. Do what you think would suit you better. And remember that only because someone did one or two solo travels doesn't make them experts, so keep asking around and do your research about it.
3. Don't think you have to stay in a hostel:
Many people think that solo travellers have to stay in hostels, but it is incorrect.
If you do not fancy sharing a room with other people and prefer the comfort of a hotel, book it.
There are also many different options, like Couchsurfing or Airbnb.
Also, keep in mind that there are many ship cruises for solo travelers, where you can have your privacy and at the same time meet other solo travelers (and going on a cruise is so much fun, I honestly love it).
4. Do not book accommodation far from the city centre or in an unsafe area:
Safety first, always! Do your research to check which area is the central and safer (not every central area is secure, unfortunately). Book your accommodation there. I prefer to spend a little more but stay where it is safe.
5. Don't Book the wrong accommodation:
Make sure to have an idea of what kind of accommodation you prefer to stay in.
Are you looking to meet other solo travellers, maybe young people who want to party?
Then choose a hostel.
Are you looking for peace and relaxation with a big room all for you?
The hostel is not for you then, look for a nice hotel.
Many people think that solo travels are only for young people, but they are far from true. You can travel solo at any age and have a lot of fun.
6. Don't Book accommodation without reading the reviews:
Reviews are not always fair, and every point of view is different.
So read the latest reviews carefully, and if eight people give five stars and only one gives two, read that review but remember that experiences and perceptions are different.
Find the accommodation that suits you better.
For example, many reviews say that the accommodation is in a noisy area, it is probably true.
7. Don't Plan too much for your first and last day:
These are the two days of your travel where it is better not to plan anything because you might arrive tired late (flight delays unfortunately happen).
You might have to wait for too long to get to your room (remember, in that case, you can ask the receptionist if you can leave your luggage somewhere safe, and while you wait for your room, you can explore the area or go out for lunch).
Or, as sometimes happen, you might not have enough time to see something during your vacation, so you can still see it on your last day because it is entirely free.
8. Don't Follow other people itineraries 100%:
Don't do as other people did before you. Keep your mind open and do some more research yourself because you might find something interesting you would love to add to your itinerary.
For travels between cities, I always book transportation on Trainline and on Omio, where I can see all the transport available, at what costs and time.
An excellent option to move around a city is using Google Maps or my favourite City Mapper (the most brilliant navigation app for towns). Use the voice instruction to get to your destination. In this way, you will keep your phone inside your pocket and only need to follow the voice to move around.
9. Don't Plan a too-tight schedule:
This is a big mistake, and I know it because I did it.
I understand if you want to see everything, but you also have to consider how much time you have.
So make a list of everything you want to see. Plan a daily itinerary with things to see and do in the same area. Calculate the time you need to see them, the time you need to go from one place to another and make sure to be free after 4 pm.
In this case, if you need more time, you still have it, or if you are tired, you can go back to your accommodation and rest before dinner in case you plan to stay out late at night.
10. research what there is to see and to do:
Too many times, I met someone who went to a place I had already visited, and while talking to me about it, they found out they had seen only half of the most impressive attractions available.
Not because they did not want to see them or they did not have enough time, but because they did not know about them.
This is also one reason why many people told me I should start a Travel Blog. Because I am a super organized traveller, and when planning to visit a place, I turn into a Travel Guide, and I end up knowing more about that place than local.
So do your searches, start as soon as you decide your destination. This way, you will have all the time you need to plan a perfect trip.
Check out if I have been to the place you want to visit. If I have, you will find everything you need to know on my website, from what to eat and where, what to see and do, hidden gems, museums and much more.
More Destinations are added regularly as I started this Travel Guide after travelling for more than twelve years, so I need time to write everything, but I am doing my best.
11. Don't overcomplicate your travel:
You have to remember that you will be alone, so make things simple.
Do not run like a spinning top around the city because you did not plan properly. Don't book specific accommodation if to get there from the airport you have to change four buses.
Don't schedule a guided tour at 8 am when you know that it would be difficult for you to wake up early and so on. Don't plan to see and do too many things if you don't have enough time to see everything.
12. Don't forget to share your itinerary with someone you trust:
Think about your safety first, always. I am never going to stop saying it.
So plan an itinerary and give flights and accommodation details to someone you trust. So they will always know where you are. This is not about them checking on you. It is in case something happens they will know where to find you.
About that, you can easily do it with Google Map location sharing, where you can share your live location with chosen people even when you don't use the app. You only need to activate it and keep your GPS ON at all times. There is an option to share only for one hour or till you turn it off.
13. Don't forget to buy travel insurance:
One of the things to do as soon as you book your travel is to buy travel insurance. It could save you and your bank account in case of emergency so never forget to buy it.
This is something you should never save money on. Good travel insurance is essential when travelling so please never forget to get one.
14. Do enough research about safety:
It does not matter if you think the place you will visit is safe. Always do your research, make sure to book your accommodation in a secure area, check if it is safe for you to go out at night, etc.
15. Don't Plan to arrive or leave at night:
Always avoid arriving or leaving at night, unless you hire a taxi that will take you from the airport to your accommodation.
Avoid bus or train stations at night at all costs when alone. Also, some hostels, hotels or Airbnb do not check-in at night, so make sure to arrive during the day.
16. Book skips the line tickets:
It is already a pain to spend one hour queuing (even with some friends) to visit an attraction. How fun can it be to do it alone?
Always book a skip the line ticket. It will save you time that you can invest in doing something else.
17. Don't forget to make copies of your documents:
Always carry copies of your documents with you. Keep the original at your accommodation in a safe place (it can be your room safe if there is one, inside your dirty clothes bag, or even inside your tampons purse as I did a couple of times).
Always carry the copies with you while exploring. I also advise you to send yourself a picture (or a scan) of all of them by email, just in case, so you will always have a copy of all your documents anywhere you will go.
I also always have my favourite prepaid card, Revolut Card, with me to leave my credit cards at my accommodation. In this way, if my bag gets stolen, I still have documents and cards to finish my travel and go back home.
With Revolut Card, you will have three cards in one. One is the physical card, the virtual card to use for online transactions, and the third is the online shopping card that gets terminated every time you use it and replaced with a new one at no extra cost to you.
Through the Revolut app, you can top it up, freeze it if you cannot find it and unfreeze it when you find it. You can exchange money in 19 different currencies in just a few seconds, always at the best rates. Check out here Revolut Card. You won't be disappointed.
18. Don't forget to tell your bank you are going abroad:
Most banks tend to block your account when they see some weird purchases abroad.
So if you do not want to risk ending up without money because your cards stop working, just make a phone call before leaving and let your bank know where you are going and when you are planning to go back.
This is also why I always use Revolut Card when Travelling. The app is connected with my phone GPS to see where I use my card. There is also an option to freeze and unfreeze your card anytime you want if you cannot find it.
19. Don't pack too much:
Packing too much is a mistake most travellers make at the beginning (I did it too).
Especially if you travel solo and decide to move from one city to another, you have to keep in mind that carrying too many bags can be complicated and heavy (unless you book a car and get from one accommodation to another).
If you move by bus or train, you might walk a lot and change many trains or buses, so weigh your bags before leaving and think if you will be comfortable with all that weight to walk in the street looking for your accommodation.
I still remember my first solo travel in 2011. I travelled for 22 days around the south of Spain, with a big suitcase, a small backpack and another empty bag that I refilled with souvenirs I bought on the way.
The first days were ok, but then I realized what a big mistake I had made.
Unfortunately, I did not know anything about solo travels (it was my first one, after all, and at that time, there weren't so many travel blogs around to help me).
But fortunately, we all learn from our mistakes. Now I can travel with a bit of carry-on trolley and a small backpack for weeks, without any problems because I have learned how to pack and save room (and I don't need to take all my wardrobe with me).
20. Don't forget to pack some essential medicines:
Are you a very healthy person who never get sick?
I am too, but unfortunately, we go through climate change while travelling, food and other things that compromise our immune system.
Always bring some medicine, the usual you use at home when you are sick (if you use any).
Do not try new medicines while travelling, because if you don't know how your body reacts to them, you might get some unpleasant side effects.
21. Don't forget to take with you a book or a tablet with some movies:
You will be alone, so if you want to spend some time relaxing or decide to stay in in the evening, having something to do will save you from boredom.
Even downloading some movies on your Netflix app will work (I always watch some movies on my phone while on a plane, it saves me from eating everything I have with me to kill the boredom).
If you are looking for good movie streaming sites, look at Apple Tv+, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. They always offer great deals, and new movies and Tv series are added regularly.
If you love Documentaries like me, you should check out CuriosityStream, where you can find thousands of documentaries.
If you are a sports supporter, you should look at Fubo TV, where you can find more than 150 channels and their live shows. Fubo Tv covers all major soccer games happening around the world. You can watch it in English, Spanish and Portuguese.
22. Don't Bring the exact amount of money you plan to spend:
It is essential to have a budget for some of us, but it does not mean you will respect it (unfortunately).
You can be very good with money, but you cannot force yourself not to visit that attraction you decide at the last minute to see or go out for a drink with some people you met at your accommodation, only because you have to respect your budget.
Always make sure to have more in your bank account, because many things can happen and you have to be responsible.
I always spend around 100 euros more than planned because I am on holiday and sometimes I like to be spontaneous. Therefore, if I fancy a cocktail after dinner, I can have it without feeling guilty about that.
If I see a lovely dress or a more expensive souvenir, I want to be able to buy it.
23. Don't Leave your valuables unattended:
Pickpockets are so good. You have no idea. They can open your backpack while you are walking and steal your wallet. They can steal your handbag while you are sitting on a bench enjoying the sun like happened to a friend of mine.
They are so good at it.
Please be careful because if you lose your bag with all your documents (I told you to carry only copies with you) your credit card (always leave the credit card at your accommodation and go out with a prepaid one), you are going to be in trouble.
So follow my advice and keep your guard always up.
24. Don't try to avoid being alone:
You are travelling solo so accept to be alone. Believe me that it is fantastic, the sensation of freedom, being alone will make you feel more connected to yourself. You will become more responsible and observant of everything happening around you.
And trust me, you will always find someone to take some pictures of you.
25. Don't force yourself to be alone:
Only because you travel solo does not mean you have to be alone all day, every day.
It is essential to find a good balance. If you meet someone you connect with who will visit the same area you plan to visit, or someone who wants to go out in the evening but is not sure about it because they are alone, then offer to go together.
In this way, you will feel safer and hopefully in good company.
26. Don't be shy:
Some people tend to avoid talking with strangers while traveling. I met some people like that during my solo travels.
When I asked them about their travel, they became defensive and looked scared. And I wondered why. I was a smiling girl who kindly only wanted to have a conversation and maybe make some friends.
Why were some people so shy or scared when I talked to them, while others were delighted to find a travel mate for the day?
I found out I was not the reason. They were only protecting themself, and I get it. When you travel solo, the first rule is to have your back, be vigilant and trust no one, or at least do not trust them 100%.
But if you are a girl and you meet another girl who is travelling alone and shows you that she just wants to find someone to chat with or go out and explore together, if you feel comfortable with her, just talk.
Don't share too much about your itinerary or what you carry with you (like how much money or where you keep your valuables) but do not be shy.
Maybe she just comes from the city you will visit the day after and she can give you some good advice.
Don't think that all the people you will meet are dodgy and try to scam you because some are just like you.
27. Don't stop being vigilant:
Never, never, never stop to be vigilant. You are far from home, alone, and no one can help you in a dangerous situation, so cover you back at all times. Be aware of what is happening around you and avoid dangerous places.
28. Don't carry all your cash with you:
Never travel with all your travel budget in your pocket. Always get a prepaid card like Revolut Card and withdraw what you need for a couple of days or as I do, pay everything with your prepaid card (where they accept card payments).
You will receive a message in real-time about the transaction you just did. You can freeze it and unfreeze it anytime you want from the app. I usually carry just a bit of cash if I want to buy something in a market where I cannot pay by card.
29. Don't get drunk:
You are already alone in a foreign city or country. Do you want to end up drunk, losing control of your actions and stop being vigilant? Please don't do it.
You would become an easy target, and I am more than sure you do not want to risk being assaulted, robbed or worst.
30. Don't tell people you are traveling alone:
When traveling alone, especially if you are a woman, it is better if you don't share too much with people you meet in the street.
If you are asking for directions, say you will meet your boyfriend or, even better, wear a fake wedding ring.
Men will let you alone because they might think your husband is not far from you when they see a wedding ring, so it is a reliable way to protect yourself from malicious people.
31. Don't go out alone at night:
If you are alone, especially a woman, avoid going out at night. Unless you meet another travelling woman at your accommodation and she invites you to join her for dinner.
Unfortunately, we are an easy target, so be careful at all times.
32. Don't prefer to save money at being safe:
Money is essential, but your safety is much more critical. If you have to get back to your accommodation when it is dark, hire a taxi and avoid public transport.
Check if there is Uber or another app you can use to hire a taxi in the country you are visiting.
33. Don't post real-time pictures with location:
With all these social media, nowadays, anyone can know where we are and what we are doing.
So, if you are a woman (and trust me that it is sad for me to keep repeating "especially if you are a woman"), share your location only with your friends and family.
I usually post pictures and sites only the day after, when I am not around anymore. This is another way to cover your back against unpleasant situations. We never know who is following us on Instagram. It can be anyone and not with the best intentions.
34. Don't avoid family or friends calls:
I understand you are on holiday, travelling solo (and maybe you want to detox from other people's problems), but it does not mean you have to be alone all the time and cannot talk to your family.
I am always in contact with them, mostly if I travel alone. I send a good morning message to them, and I call them in the evening to let them know I am ok and there is nothing to worry about.
35. Don't get homesick:
If you decide to travel for many months, alone, very far from home, it can get you homesick, and it is absolutely ok.
But if you are going to be away for only one or two weeks, try to focus more on your journey, the places you are visiting and the people you are meeting. Unfortunately, time flies and you will be back home in no time, so enjoy it till you are there.
36. ask for help if you need it:
There are many reasons people decide to travel solo (mine was because I was tired of never finding other people to come with me when I had holidays or to the places I wanted to visit).
Maybe, you decided to travel alone because you want to be responsible and show people that you can do it and do not need anyone else. But be honest with yourself in case you need help and just say it.
There is no reason for you to feel ashamed.
37. Don't forget to take safety precautions with you:
And I am talking about every kind of precaution if you know what I mean.
Starting from a padlock for your luggage (if you stay in a hostel), an anti-theft bag, a personal GPS tracker (or you can use Google Maps on your phone), pepper spray (if it is not legal in the country you visiting), a flashlight, a cable locks or Pacsafe bag protector (if you are planning a tour) and last but not least, contraceptives.
38. Don't think that nothing can go wrong:
Something will go wrong because the chance your travel will go precisely as you plan is low.
Unexpected events happen all the time, so be prepared and do not let them ruin your trip, find a solution.
39. Don't expect too much from your travel:
Do not expect it to be exactly like the movie Eat Pray Love.
Yes, I love that movie too, but it is a movie, after all. And even if it is based on real-life, not every travel will change your life.
I am not saying that you won't learn something or change your life because it can really happen.
Just live the moment and remember that you are in charge of yourself. The way you will see things and the way you will feel.
Try to learn as much as you can, and trust me, the chance you are going back home more aware of yourself is very high.
40. Get enough sleep:
Walking all day and then partying all night?
Lucky you, if you can do it because I cannot do it anymore (but I was a party girl in my twenties, oh boy, you have no idea). I used to party all night and sleep only 2 hours before working.
Now I need to sleep 8 hours a night. Otherwise, I feel tired and become annoying.
I understand you are on holiday, having fun, meeting people but remember that after all, you are a human being and your body needs to get enough sleep to be at 100%.
So sleep, even for a couple of hours before going out in the evening. Your body will thank you for that.
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