How To Plan a Solo Trip

Going on a trip alone will be one of the most liberating things that you can do. You can decide what you want to see and do and have no one else to answer to. It’s honestly the best way to travel. 

If it’s your first time travelling alone, you may be feeling overwhelmed and unsure how to actually plan your trip, that’s where this article will help. Having been to 115 countries solo, below is a summary of all the steps that I take to plan my solo trips. Happy planning! (If you’re just looking for my recommend travel resources, you can find them here!)

N.b. If you are unsure if you want to plan your own trip, it’s worth considering a tour. They plan your accommodation and activities so all you have to do is just show up! I recommend these G Adventures tours for solos of all ages and have listed the best group travel companies for solo travelers here 

How To Plan a Solo Trip

1. Decide Where To Go

First thing’s first: deciding where to go. Is there a destination that is at the top of your travel wish list and somewhere that you’ve always wanted to go to? Do you want to visit Brazil or travel around Thailand? 

Or maybe decide what you want to get out of your experience to determine which country to visit. Are you a history buff who’s eager to learn all there is to know about ancient architecture? Or is soaking up the sun with a book in hand your idea of a perfect relaxing solo trip?

Decide exactly when you can go and check the season especially for hurricanes if you’re travelling to the Caribbean or typhoons if you’re going to Asia. If it’s summer or peak season then the destination will generally be busier and more expensive than if you choose to travel during spring or autumn months. 

Then determine how long you can for. Maybe you just need a week away at an amazing yoga retreat to escape work, a sailing trip around beautiful islands, or a whole month off backpacking several countries on a continent. Doing something that you feel really excited about will make your trip unique to you and ensure that your solo trip is rewarding and exactly what it needs to be. 

My Tip – don’t book anything yet as you may change where you want to go after the next few steps.

These resources will help you decide where to go

2. Check Passport & Visas 

When you’re selecting where to go, it’s really important to check the next couple of steps next as you may have to change your destination if you don’t have enough time. 

Now that you’ve decided where and when to go, it’s time to check your passport. You usually need at least 6 months left on the validity of your passport so make sure that it’s still in date or that you have enough time to apply for a new one (it can take approximately 6 weeks depending on where you are). 

Then check if you need a visa. Some countries are visa-free depending on which passport you have and others have eVisas that you can apply for online. There are a few countries where you have to apply weeks or months in advance and even visit the Consulate in your home country to apply for your visa. If you’ve chosen a challenging destination to go to then you may not have time to obtain the visa if you want to travel last minute.

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3. Do You Need Vaccinations? 

Depending on where you’re visiting, you may also need to have travel vaccinations especially if you haven’t had them before. You may also need a booster too if it’s expired. The general ones are Hepatitis A, Typhoid, and Polio. But if you’re travelling to Africa, you may also need to get your yellow fever vaccination. 

Check which vaccinations you need and if you have enough time to get them before your trip, otherwise you may want to choose a different destination that doesn’t require any vaccinations. 

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4. Plan What To Do on Your Solo Trip

Now that you know exactly where you’re going and that you have enough time for any visas and vaccinations, you can plan what you want to do when you’re there and immerse yourself in activities that interest you.

While spontaneity is part of the adventure, doing some research before you go can help you to make the most of your time. You don’t need a detailed itinerary, just a rough schedule for what you want to see and do.  

I always use Get Your Guide to help to plan a trip. I just look up the best things to do in a destination and include them on my itinerary, making sure that I have at least one rest day a week (if I’m away for longer than a week).

Depending on what time of year you are going, you may want to look at skip-the-line tickets for museums or main attractions such as the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, or the Louvre Museum in Paris. That way you are guaranteed to see the attraction and don’t have to waste hours in a queue. 

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5. Decide Where To Stay

When you think about where to stay, it’s a good idea to consider your budget. If you’re only planning to go for a short trip you may be able to splurge on some luxury and treat yourself to a hotel or a beach resort. 

If you would like to meet people on your trip you may feel more isolated in a hotel and prefer to stay in a hostel instead. Not only are these cheaper if you decide to stay in a dormitory room but they also offer tours and social activities making it easier to meet others.

Check reliable sites for reviews of not only hotels, but also the areas they’re located in. If staying at an AirBnB is more up your street, make sure you’re picking a place with lots of good reviews – whilst a great option for affordable accommodation, at the end of the day, you are spending the night at someone’s private home.

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6. Check How To Get Around

Once you’ve decided what to do and where to stay, you’ll need to look at how to get around. Obviously if you’re choosing a beach destination and just want to spend a week lounging on a beach then you can skip this step. 

If you’re planning on a city break then you could work out the metro or buses to navigate your way around the city. (Check out a city pass too as they may save you money if you plan to travel a lot).

If you’re going to be staying in more than one location, then check how to get from place to place. Is there public transport or do you need to hire a car or a private driver? I always use Rome2Rio to help me plan how to get around. It gives every option from buses, trains, ferries and taxis. 

You may want to pre-book a transfer from the airport to your accommodation, especially if you’re arriving in the evening. You can just contact your accommodation to ask if they arrange a transfer, or pre-book one here. 

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7. Check Flights

Now that you know exactly where you’re going and what you’re going to do there, you can look at flights! (If you’re planning to go abroad).

If your holiday is months away and you have plenty of time before you go, I recommend signing up for a travel alert on Skyscanner to get notified on when the flight price for your selected dates goes down (and up) so you know when to book it. You could also look at flying into one airport and out of another to compare costs especially if you are planning to travel overland.

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8. Book Your Trip!

Now you’re ready to book your trip! There are so many sites out there it can get overwhelming knowing which ones to choose. Here’s a list of all my recommended travel sites that I use to book my solo trips. If you’re still undecided if you want to travel alone and prefer to go on a tour, you can find all the recommended group tours for solos here. 

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9. Get Insurance

It’s really important to purchase travel insurance for your trip especially in case of a medical emergency. Check what the cover includes and how much excess you would need to pay if you have to claim. Generally the higher the excess the less the premium. If you’re planning on doing adventure activities, make sure that these are also covered as some companies don’t cover skiing, or trekking higher than 2000 metres as a standard policy. 

I always add on extra cover for my laptop and phone as those are my most important items when I travel.For recommendations, True Traveller and World Nomads are two good insurance companies. True Traveller is available to UK and European residents, and World Nomads is available to over 100 countries worldwide, including the USA and UK. For digital nomads, Safety Wing is a nomad insurance that covers people from all over the world. 

All companies allow you to buy insurance when you are already on the road and offer different plans depending on your needs including additional adventure cover. * Read: Best Travel Insurance For Solo Travelers

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Packing tips for solo travel

10. Get Packing & Travel Products

Now you’ve booked your trip, you can plan what to pack! The general rule is to pack everything you think you need to take and then half it. If you’re unsure I share my packing list below for some ideas on what to pack. 

Don’t forget to pack for the season too and take extra layers or a jacket if you’re travelling somewhere cold. You may need to buy some extra items to pack such as a travel towel, a new pair of comfortable walking shoes or a universal plug adapter if you’re planning on visiting a few countries. 

Maybe you need a brand new backpack or suitcase and are unsure which one to get? I travel with a backpack if I’m going overland and a suitcase if I’m visiting cities as it makes it easier to get around. 

If you’re looking for new travel products, these are my favourite travel products that I recommend for a solo trip. 

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11. Check Cultural Norms

Did you know that you can get fined if you jaywalk in Dubai? Or that pointing your feet towards someone in Thailand is considered rude? Cultural norms are even more important when you’re travelling solo as you don’t want to offend anyone during your trip. Read up on the cultural etiquette in the country to ensure that your trip will go even smoother.

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12. Get Excited & Get Tips From Other Solos!

Now that you’ve planned your solo trip, it’s time to get excited! And don’t worry if you feel a bit nervous too as it’s perfectly normal to have nerves before going on a solo trip (I still get them).

But just because you’ve decided to book a solo trip doesn’t necessary mean that you will be alone. There are apps and groups where you can gain tips from other solo travellers. 

Join our Girls about the Globe Facebook community and ask for advice or just share where you’re going to see if anyone else had been there or is going at the same time as you! 

Now is also a good time to research what to do when you’re on the road. I’ve listed lots of articles below from how to meet others to what to do alone at night to empower you and give you more confidence for your trip. 

More Resources:

This is just a summary of the steps. If you need some further help to dive deeper into how to choose where to go, I have a webinar where I go into more details on how to plan a trip. Watch it here! 

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