So, the travel bug has hit you hard and you’re ready to take on the exciting challenge of embarking on your first solo trip. Now what? From deciding on your destination or finding a program to figuring out how to navigate an airport, traveling alone for the first time may seem like a daunting task. Don’t worry, you have come to the right place! At Travel For Teens, we live and breathe travel. We have decades of experience and understand exactly where you’re at. These tips for traveling alone for the first time will cover everything you need to know so you can go from daydreaming about that next adventure to diving in headfirst and having the experience of a lifetime.
1. Say Yes
Taking a leap of faith into the unknown may be the hardest part about traveling alone for the first time. Feeling nervous is normal, but don’t let those feelings discourage you. Solo travel fosters confidence, independence, and is an invaluable experience like no other. There’s plenty of things you can do to ease your nerves and better prepare yourself for the adventure ahead. Signing up for a group trip without knowing anyone going is a great option for your first solo travel experience. 75% of participants on Travel for Teens’ trips sign up by themselves. The experience of signing up for a group trip alone gives you the independence and adventure of solo travel while also making it easier to meet new friends. When you decide what solo travel experience is best for you, say yes and go for it!
This is your time to dream big. The more you know about where you want to go and what you want to do, the easier it will be to travel alone for the first time. Don’t hold back. You want to scuba dive in Belize? Dying to take care of sea turtles in Hawaii? Dreaming of picturesque hikes in Utah? Whatever it is, research it and absorb all the information you can. Find programs that you like and call the company to ask any questions you may have. This step will not only ease your nerves but also inspire and prepare you to make it happen. Once you do your research and decide where you want to go, it’s time to put pen on paper.
3. Set a Budget
Yes, travel can be expensive, but we promise it doesn’t have to be. Start forming your budget by researching the price of the experience you want. Group trips are often affordable! Once you get an idea of how much your adventure will cost, start making a plan to save. It’s a good idea to plan ahead and put away a little money each week. Before you know it, you’ll be on that adventure you’ve always dreamed of. Learn more ideas to manage money for travel here.
4. Find your itinerary
Now it’s time to take all your research and turn the dream into a plan. Traveling is all about finding the balance between structure and improvisation. Too much structure and you will lose the ability to be flexible and take advantage of opportunities that present themselves, too little structure and you may not be presented those opportunities in the first place. Try to build or find a program with an itinerary that gives you thorough plans but also leaves time to be spontaneous and rest. If you choose a group trip as a solo traveler, make sure you find a program that matches a pace you think you would like.
The more you travel the easier packing will become. Choose your bag based on what you will be doing on your trip. A hiking backpack is a great idea if you are moving accommodations often. If you will be located in one destination for your whole trip a regular suitcase will be perfect. It’s easy to pack all you can into your bag, but don’t forget to leave room for souvenirs. Take a look at some of our top packing tips here.
7. Flying Alone
Flying alone for the first time can be intimidating, but if you are prepared it can be an adventure within itself. Get a nice carry-on bag, organize all the information and documents you need in one convenient place, show up early for your flight and you will be fine. If you are traveling with a company check to see if they offer any help at the airport. Travel For Teens offers chaperoned flights and airport staff who will be there to help you out and make sure the entire airport experience goes smoothly.
8. Be prepared for culture shock
Going to a new place for the first time where everything is different from your home is a fun and exciting experience. You will experience many new things from different foods to a language barrier. Sometimes it is easy to feel overwhelmed with all these changes. By researching your destination before you go you will know what to expect and be prepared. You will still need to step out of your comfort zone, but you will be ready, and knowing what to expect will make it enjoyable rather than scary. Read more about how to deal with culture shock here.
9. Have fun
You’ve done the work and have dealt with the hardest part, now it’s time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the trip. Don’t get too caught up in the logistics of it all, rather go with the flow and live in the moment. Try to get off your phone, ignore your life back home for a little and truly experience the place you are at. Embrace the ups and the downs of your solo travel experience and it will be something you will never forget.