Unknown adventures – Your ultimate guide on how to get started with travelling solo
Are you dreaming of travelling alone and the endless freedom that comes with it? Or are you longing to go on a holiday but don’t have a suitable travel companion, and haven’t quite yet found the courage to go by yourself? Ten solo travel experts and Finnair’s Instagram followers share their best tips for how to get started with your ultimate solo travel experience.
The first tip our solo travel experts give is to find the courage to try travelling alone, as it’s a very rewarding way of travelling. If you’re not yet quite sure whether you’ll enjoy travelling alone, get started by trying out a short trip to a familiar place to see how it feels – and already then you might discover new things, either from the place or from yourself.
Once you have done a couple of solo trips, you’ll learn what works the best for you: do you prefer to go for a one night, a long weekend or a long holiday; do you prefer to travel to a place you already know or to somewhere completely unknown; whether a city break is your thing or whether you prefer to take a relaxing beach holiday – or perhaps a combination of different things.
“Stay open-minded. You will see incredible places and meet new people, if you let yourself do so,” states one of our experts. Travelling alone gives you a unique opportunity to make new friends and form relationships that can last for years. If talking to strangers feels weird or you just don’t know how to get started, why not join group tours, attend local social events, take a cooking class or utilise different mobile applications to connect with fellow travellers and locals.
Plan ahead while staying spontaneous
When travelling solo for the first time, it might be a good idea to form some kind of a plan of where you will stay and what you might want to do once you get there. Planning ahead increases the feeling of safety, and it’s also a good idea to inform someone about your plans. Moreover, reading about others’ experiences beforehand gives you an idea of what to expect in the destination.
Our interviewees recommend doing some research on the area you are planning to stay at, in order to make sure it’s safe enough and situated conveniently in terms of the activities and places you plan to visit. Walking distance from the sights or a location near public transportation saves you time and energy.
Pick your hotel according to your needs. If you plan to spend time at the hotel, it pays off to invest in a nice one. “It’s not a must, but I highly recommend staying at a nice hotel. I’ve taken many long baths enjoying a glass of cold white wine, eaten hotel breakfast and/or dinner in the comfy hotel bed, and also spent some time at the hotel bar,” tips one of the people we interviewed.
While our experts recommend making some plans ahead, they also encourage you to be spontaneous and leave time for unplanned activities. Sometimes you find the best restaurant randomly wandering around or get a sudden urge to try a new activity that you couldn’t even think of before the trip.
Observe, get enchanted, find joy in the smallest details, do people-watching, and learn new things. “Let loose of your normal daily habits and instead of hanging onto your mobile phone put it in your pocket and start observing people. When you go alone you will have full focus on things around you.”
Enjoy – solo travelling can be the most relaxing thing, as you have the freedom to do anything you want and go anywhere you want.
Always put safety first
While having the freedom to do whatever you wish, be wise and pay attention to safety, after all no one else is looking after you. Get travel insurance, give someone your travel itinerary, bring two different credit cards and perhaps some cash in case they don’t work for one reason or another. Stay connected and regularly update your loved ones at home so that they know your whereabouts. You can also consider sharing your location in travel apps.
One interviewee advises: “Be aware if there are areas that are not recommended to visit that you stay out of them, especially when it’s dark – it is not worth the risk. However, there’s no reason for panic either, common sense will take you far in most cases.” A great rule of thumb is to always trust your instincts: if you don’t feel comfortable in some situation, simply remove yourself from it.
Take advantage of these practical tips
Pack light: Bring only one baggage and pack smart. Take with you the most necessary clothes and things you really need. Pack comfortable shoes and remember that you can always find a place to wash your clothes so that you can wear the same ones multiple times.
Take part in interesting activities: For instance, Airbnb Adventures is a great way to experience different things with a local guide. You can also find good tips and videos on YouTube to get ideas for things to do by yourself. Local live shows and bars also offer an excellent chance to learn and interact with the local people and different cultures.
Take pictures and videos, as it’s fun to look at those afterwards. You might also want to share some of your experiences with your loved ones at home via the pictures, either messaging them from your trip or showing them afterwards.
Be mindful and familiarise yourself with the culture you're about to enter and find out whether certain manners or rules are expected from you. Our interviewees remind you also to always respect the locals as well as the planet. It might be nice to learn a few basic phrases, such as “thank you” and “hello” to use in the destination. Google’s picture translate might help you with the rest, as it translates text from an image making it easy to understand written text and signs.
In our other Blue Wings story about travelling alone, you can find recommendations on best solo travel destinations. We also reveal the beauty of travelling alone and tell why you, too, should consider travelling alone.