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7 Tips for Traveling Alone for the First Time

Solo travel can be the most rewarding experience if you do it right.

<p>Onurdongel/Getty Images</p>

Onurdongel/Getty Images

If you’re like me (a chronic worrier and overthinker), the idea of solo travel can be a daunting thing. From going out at night alone to not speaking the language, there are lots of potential questions that may be preventing you from booking a trip. But while the scariest part of solo travel is that you’re in charge of everything, the most rewarding part of solo travel is, well, that you’re in charge of everything. Whether you like to have a loose itinerary or one packed as tight and seamless as your suitcase, you have no one to tell you differently. And as someone who has now experienced it personally, I’m here to tell you that there’s nothing more exhilarating and introspective than a solo adventure. To help you step out of your comfort zone and prepare mentally and physically for your next trip, here are some tips for dealing with travel anxiety.

Do your homework.

For your first solo trip, it’s probably a good idea to choose a destination with a developed tourist infrastructure. Locals will be used to dealing with visitors and many people will also speak English, which will be helpful if you don’t speak the local language. Wherever you choose, make sure to research the locale beforehand to get a lay of the land and a sense of where you should (and should not) go. Are some places dangerous to go alone past 9PM? Is it going to be pouring rain the whole time you’re there? What time do things close? How does public transit work? These are all things that you’ll want to go into knowing.

Look for all-inclusive resorts.

If this is your very first international solo trip, I recommend choosing an all-inclusive resort to stay at. This will be great if planning an entire itinerary is daunting to you or you’re intimidated by navigating directions in a foreign country. You can get everything you need without going far, and there’s comfort in knowing that you don’t have to leave if you don’t want to. Don’t worry—you’ll still be able to meet a lot of people on the property and you’ll feel entirely immersed in another world. For example, Delta Hotels by Marriott Riviera Nayarit, An All-Inclusive Resort is surrounded by a variety of zen pools in the remote mountains that makes you not want to leave, but you also have the option to take their shuttle to relax by their nearby Beach Club if you want different scenery and a bit more bustle. It also has a variety of cuisines for dining options and a couple bars that will allow you to meet tons of locals there for staycations and fellow travelers passing by.

Be open to talking to people.

Speaking of other people, while traveling alone might sound lonely, the best part of traveling alone is you actually end up being way more social and meeting new people you wouldn’t have talked to otherwise. Don't shy away from the locals who know the place much better than you and can help you explore some cool places that are unheard of. Engaging with other travelers on a solo trip can also make your trip more enjoyable—and who knows? It may lead to lifelong friendships and future travel partners for future trips.

Ask the hotel for itinerary recommendations.

First time traveling solo at all? In that case, it might be a good idea to start with something domestic where you can get a foreign cultural experience without actually leaving the country. Look for hotels with options onsite that you can partake in. For example, Nobu Hotel Miami Beach offers cultural experiences like Japanese whiskey tasting, Japanese tea ceremonies, origami lessons, and Japanese calligraphy that makes you feel immersed in a completely different culture without traveling abroad.

Split up cash and cards.

I always recommend keeping your passport in a hotel safe since that’s the worst thing you can lose, but you’ll also want to keep some of your cards separated too. It’s surprisingly easy to misplace your things when traveling, and since you’re in an unknown environment it makes it even harder to track something down once you realize it’s gone. If you happen to lose your purse or fall victim to a pickpocket, having backup cash and cards in your suitcase or hotel safe can really save the rest of your trip (can you tell I’m speaking from personal experience?).

Be prepared.

It’s true that it’s better to be overprepared than underprepared, especially when you’re by yourself in a foreign city. Make a small list of things you’ll want to carry around with you when exploring, and don’t forget to check it off before leaving the hotel. My must-haves: a small battery charger (there’s nothing worse than a dead phone when you’re by yourself), medication, Airtag (this has saved me so many times), and some extra cash if you’re in a pinch. Another hack? Download the place you’re going to on Google maps-—you never know if you might run out of data or signal, so it’s super useful to have your maps offline.

Learn the language.

Before you go anywhere, learn a little of the local language. Even if it’s just ‘good morning’, ‘thank you,’ and ‘a coffee please,’ it will go a long way and make it more likely to get help or recommendations should you need it.

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