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First solo trip

first solo trip

I can still remember my very first solo trip. I wrote about it in more detail here - I can still remember the excitement, the fear, the realisation that I have no idea what I was doing. I can still remember realising how big the world is and how much more travel I had to do. I remember catching the travel bug and knowing it may never leave. I remember the life lessons and the feeling of everything being so new and wonderful.

But this website isn't about me. It's about the community. So I have asked some awesome women to tell us the story of their first solo trip. Below are some great stories which will help inspire you to travel solo and book that first solo trip. Perhaps it will simply help you remember your first solo trip - in which case, I would love to hear from you and include it.

Life changing First Solo Trip to Ireland

Katie from just chasing sunsets says - You know that question on first dates...if you could go anywhere, where would you go? WIth a half Irish genetic code and growing up in a predominantly Irish community, Ireland was always my answer. And as each of those dates turned into failed relationships, I realized that waiting for someone else to join me on my trip, whether a partner or a friend, may never happen. So one night, sitting on my couch alone and crying tears of joy, I purchased my flight to Ireland. Marking my first of many solo trips.

I felt both scared and excited as I planned my first solo trip. My pre-trip research was intense. For fear of boredom or getting lost or hurt I planned out everything. Each day I had a schedule, I carried a small notebook filled with emergency numbers just in case I lost my phone. I mean, Ireland is a pretty safe starting point for solo travels. The people are incredibly warm and welcoming, it’s safe, and English is the predominant language. So with my preparation and the fact that Ireland appeared like a welcoming country to visit solo, I hopped on that flight to Dublin full of anticipation!

As cliche as it sounds, that first solo trip to Ireland changed my life. I celebrated my 28th birthday dancing away with new friends in a pub in Galway. I met people from different parts of the world and shared meals with them. I went from staying in a private hostel room to sharing a co-ed dorm room by the end of the trip. And that perfectly planned itinerary I threw out the window and started to make plans on the fly.

One of my favorite memories from that trip occurred on the night that Ireland voted in favor of same-sex marriage. I walked into a pub in Galway, solo, and met two women from New York, two from Dublin, and a guy from Galway. The locals invited us to a bar celebrating the vote. And without knowing these people or the place, I said yes. I learned to trust strangers and myself. I learned to let go of preconceived notions and schedules. I learned that I am capable of moving throughout this world as a confident and independent woman.

Two years later, I quit my job and spent my 30th year of life traveling solo throughout South America and Europe. Returning to Ireland two more times and each time falling a little bit more in love with Ireland, myself, and solo travel. Now, I’ve switched careers to favor the traveling lifestyle. So yes, that trip to Ireland changed my life for the better. And your first solo trip will likely have a similar effect on you. Go book the ticket!

The locals invited us to a bar celebrating the vote. And without knowing these people or the place, I said yes. I learned to trust strangers and myself. I learned to let go of preconceived notions and schedules. I learned that I am capable of moving throughout this world as a confident and independent woman.

Katie's first solo trip to Ireland

Taking a Leap - First Solo Trip to Costa Rica

Crystal from Adventures with Crystal says: I was extremely scared of being alone in a foreign country, until I made the leap and booked a 9-day solo trip to Costa Rica, with little knowledge of the country. Crazy, I know. But, worth it.
I chose Costa Rica because there is SO much to do: taste new food, tour coffee farms and sugar plantations, explore hanging bridges and rainforests, hike the volcanoes, trek through waterfalls and hot springs, and of course enjoy farmers markets, shopping and the beautiful beaches ... it was the perfect country to keep me busy so that traveling solo wouldn't even be a problem! I had more fun creating my own itinerary or just going with the flow by myself because the country offered so many options.
To be honest, Costa Rica was also on my radar because of its affordability -- for flights, lodging, and transportation. (Some of my spendings, here) Even the cost of food I knew would be much more doable with my budget, and with so much natural scenery, I knew I wouldn't be spending too much money on leisure activities.
When I landed, the energy was incredible. So many other travelers in the line at customs actually were returning to Costa Rica, because they were hooked the first time, so that gave me comfort! The community is very welcoming. I don't know much Spanish, and yet locals were eager to still give me recommendations or point me in the right direction.
My success came from letting go of my anxiety and learning to embrace the liberation of really not having much planned except for when to check in and check out, and leaving the rest to serendipity and surprises. 
The biggest skill I practiced that I recommend to female solo travelers all the time is: talk with strangers! Really. Striking up conversations with bartenders and servers, tourists taking photos, and even that person who stamps your passport at the airport meant I found some of the best local restaurants, hidden beaches, and amazing street art.
Okay, so if that advice was a lot, I also learned practical safety tips.. some of them include: I don't stay out too late after dark (sun up to sun down strategy), get drunk, walk with headphones around in the city when I'm alone. 
Costa Rica Solo Travel Female

Lessons Learnt From a First Solo Trip in Belgium

Kat from Bright lights of America says: My first proper solo trip was a winter jaunt over to Belgium from London. I'd moved to the UK a few months before from Australia and was having exactly zero luck finding a job. So my roommates suggested a little trip to lift my spirits and take advantage of some down time.

The planning part was exciting - suddenly I had something to look forward to other than sending resumes and cover letters out every day. I booked a ticket on the Eurostar train that had some wiggle room in Brussels so I could explore, before going on to Bruges (for chocolate).

I wasn't really expecting to feel so totally lost though. Despite being armed with a few travel guides (in the time before I could afford global roaming), and having an itinerary mapped out, I was a little scared. I was in a foreign country where I didn't understand the main language and I was alone. The wolf whistles and restaurant busboys vying for tourist attention didn't help either. I felt really alone - in the way that you do when you're lacking in confidence and realise that no one would miss you for awhile if something happened to you.

First Solo Trip in Belgium

I arrived at Brussels' central square mid-morning and after taking 25,000 photos of the opulent Town Hall and Guildhalls, I realised that there was no one to take a photo of me (an important facet of travel, obviously). So I mustered some courage and asked an American tourist to snap a quick shot for me. She left me with a photo that was two-thirds cobblestone and one-third building.

Nevermind, it was time for the train ride to Bruges anyway - a quaint tourist town known for lace making and chocolate. I stayed in the attic room of a cute bed and breakfast that had a neverending staircase but a beautiful view through the skylight. I wasted my first night because I was too scared to find a restaurant to eat in alone - I was worried that I wouldn't be able to read the menu or find my way back to my room.

The next day I did a bit of exploring but was too chicken to book a gondola tour of the town, instead opting to climb the Belfry in the main square and eat from the farmer's market by pointing at things and smiling stupidly, or visiting the supermarket and apologising profusely when I got fruit buying wrong. I was starting to feel really lonely, surrounded by groups of families and friends, who were having a ball on their holidays.

So I gave myself a pep talk. The long and short of it is, no one is judging you for eating on your own, joining a tour by yourself, or asking you to take a quick holiday snap (within reason, don't be a diva). I booked that gondola tour, struck up conversations with other tourists, enjoyed the sun and a beer by a canal and chatted to a woman who was also solo that evening.

I even struck up the courage to hire a bike and ride it out to a nearby town, where I found a tiny art exhibition going on. The artist had to have been in his late 70s, and didn't speak a word of English, but he motioned for me to sit and he began drawing me. We muddled along with hand gestures as I tried desperately to recall high school French (I failed). Now I have this gorgeous drawing of myself to remind me of my first solo trip, when I decided to get out of my own head and enjoy myself.

Now I'm an expat in the US and love solo travel more than anything. Don't believe me? You should read about why I think moving abroad alone is a worthwhile adventure!

solo trip to belgium

Volunteering on my first solo trip in Africa

My first solo trip was actually also the first time that I left the United States to travel overseas. Ever since I was a little girl I had always dreamed of visiting Africa and climbing the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, so naturally, I choose to visit Tanzania in East Africa for my first solo trip. I signed up to volunteer as a teacher through a volunteer company called IVHQ and had one of the best experiences of my life. I now know that what I did was most likely voluntourism, but at the time of my trip, voluntourism wasn't talked about like it is now so, unfortunately, I had no idea what I was doing was probably doing more harm than good. When you volunteer through a company like IVHQ, you stay at a volunteer house and are assigned to different volunteer sites in the town. I was assigned to teach at a school with two other girls from Colombia and we went to the school every day during the 6 weeks I was there. We initiated and completed projects at the school such as redesigning and putting student bios on their website, teaching the students educational groups games, and helping paint classrooms and build a playground. When I wasn't volunteering, I spent my time getting to know the other volunteers and exploring the town we were based in together. I also went on a weekend camping safari with the other volunteers and climbed Kilimanjaro while I was there! Going to Tanzania was an adventure of a lifetime, and I am so incredibly grateful to have had the chance to experience something so wonderful.

Mt. Kilimanjaro Bucket List
The experience of traveling to Africa for the first time solo taught me so many lessons and made me a much more independent person. One thing that I took away from the experience is that we really don't need everything we think we do to be happy. The children at the school I was teaching at had pretty much nothing, as well as their families. They woke up every day wondering if they were going to be able to eat, drink water, and have clean clothes to wear that day. Even though their major necessities might not be met every day, the people in Tanzania seem genuinely happy. They seem to worry less and just enjoy living life and being with their community of people that surrounds them. This has made me realize what really matters and that we may not be seeking happiness the right way!
Besides learning about happiness from people that have nothing, I came back from Tanzania a new person. I was pretty terrified to travel abroad alone and had really no idea what to expect. After being there for a week or so, it completely opened my eyes to the world around me. I met people from all over the world who gathered together in one volunteer house for the same agenda- to help people who had less than us. I listen and learn from the people I met who were much more experienced travelers than me and it made me realize that the world wasn't as big and unreachable as I thought! After returning from Tanzania, my now fiance and I sold all of our possessions and moved to the other side of the world to teach English in South Korea. I would have never thought this was possible without having the experience I had in Tanzania. Since then we have traveled all over the world- a feat I would have never thought was possible before Tanzania. My experience taught me that with a lot of planning, passion, and drive- I can do anything I set my mind to!

Travelling Abroad solo in my teens, in Spain

Diana from the Elusive Family I have been traveling around the world since I was born. By the time I was 2 I had lived on two different continents and traveled to several countries in Europe.  As I grew up, I traveled with my family in North America and Europe, particularly in Eastern and Western Europe as we had family living there and loved visiting different countries.

I went on my first solo trip abroad in my late teens.  Spain was the destination and it was an amazing adventure.  The world still seems like a big place and traveling alone, you are never too sure of what there is to see and do.  My solo trip was combined with learning Spanish during the summer months, and hopping from city to city exploring what northern Spain had to offer.  The famous Basque region was an area I got to know very well and eastern Spain as well as southern France were visits I made as well. I experienced the running of the bulls in Pamplona, and the beaches of Donostia.  I ate paella with the locals and learned how to use the local bus system. I stayed with a family that spoke little English and was welcomed to have breakfast with them every morning with a cup of strong coffee.

My first solo trip abroad was an adventure, and a way to learn about where my strengths and weaknesses were. I found out that budgeting was not a strong suit and worked to correct it.  I realized I liked traveling alone and had no problem dining alone.  I found peace in strolling along the beach after dinner kicking up the sand, and learned that I was better at navigating a city without the need for a map.  The experience of my first solo trip abroad gave me the confidence to continue my travels. Today, I reside in Europe with my husband and two girls, and we have started our own family travel blog, where we document our travels to nearly 30 countries worldwide.

Trekking The Marmot Pass Solo

Christa from Expedition Wildlife says  While I had experienced traveling solo on multiple occasions, going on my first solo, overnight backpacking trip opened up a whole new meaning to spending time introspectively and enjoying the world around me.

After moving to the Pacific Northwest from the east coast of the United States, I was still working on getting my bearings in this new, unknown place. The stunning mountains, strewn with alpine streams and flowers, and vistas filled with views only dreamt of in storybooks, called to me. Soon, day hikes weren’t enough and I wanted a challenge - to truly immerse myself in nature.

My friends either didn’t have the time or the desire to go into the mountains overnight, so I had to take it upon myself to continue alone.

The Marmot Pass hike in the Olympic Mountains National Park is the perfect solo overnight destination for a first-timer. The trek was beautiful, stretching through fir forests, past brooks, and up to the rocky, high-mountain habitat that marmots and mountain goats call home.

The mountain lion I scared up from its nap under a boulder gave me a nice startle, and that voice that sits in the back of everyone’s head asked just what I had gotten myself into. After making camp and looking out at the clear view towards Mount Rainier, I felt triumphant at my success, which was, however, dampened somewhat by a terribly tasting camp dinner. I’ve since improved drastically in my ability to cook on the trail.

Sunset stretched out in a rainbow of colors throughout the alpine meadows and peaks, a scene more beautiful than anything I’d ever seen. Just enough people camped overnight nearby, yet even on a crystal clear, perfect summer evening, there were only a handful of others within a quarter of a mile.

The miles of hiking into the mountains couldn’t make me tired enough to forego considering all the sounds of the night, and my mind bounced back to the mountain lion I’d seen earlier in the day. Soon enough, as happens in summertime, the sun began to crest over the valley, and, I breathed a sigh of relief, realizing I’d accomplished my goal.

Since then, I’ve continued my journey by taking at least one solo backpacking trip each year, the last of which was trekking the GR20 in Corsica. John Muir wasn’t wrong when he said “the mountains are calling, and I must go” – I feel that same pull and it continually draws me back.

Expedition Wildlife - Marmot Pass Olympic National Park sunset

My First Solo Trip - A European adventure

When you have no direction in life, plan a trip to Europe. That’s why I did after I graduated from university with a BA in English without any clear idea of what I wanted to do except travel. Growing up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, a prairie city in Western Canada, I couldn't help thinking that there was a whole lot of world out there to see. I still think that, and still have the same wanderlust.
It took me a year of working two jobs in Toronto to save up for my first solo trip, but I was finally on my way to London, England. When I arrived I was nervous, and after finding a budget hotel room in Paddington, the only thing I could think of to do was find a friendly pub - fortunately for me, I found one that would become my 'local.' Meeting people there was one of the reasons that I ended up back in London after traveling around - it immediately felt like a home away from home ... though I have to admit it wasn't easy to go on my own the first few times. Little did I know I’d end up loving traveling solo so much, and get so used to going places by myself that it became my new normal and I wouldn’t return to Canada for a year and a half.
At first I traveled around without much of a plan, visiting iconic cities such as Paris and Berlin, but eventually I realized I wanted to get to know a place on a deeper level so I went back to London. When you first start out traveling solo, the sights and sounds are enough to fill your soul, but after awhile the excitement of seeing monument after monument seems to pale – especially if you’re not connecting with locals. After I settled back in London, I discovered it was fairly easy to get a temporary work visa if you’re under 27, so I managed to find a job in a pub making pizzas – not exactly a career move – and found a flat to share with three travelers from Australia. 
I hardly earned enough to buy groceries, but I didn’t care. I could eat pizzas in the pub. When you stay in a city for a longer period of time, you find ways to make it cheaper, to enjoy the parks, get to know public transport and keep your eye out for free events. My takeaway from this extended trip was that my future career was going to involve travel - I'm now aluxury travel blogger. Going from budget travel to luxury travel and making it my job was a process that took a few years. But that first solo trip gave me a lot of material for writing articles. I fell into it pretty naturally. I started writing about places after visiting them, then seeing if I could sell the article. There are so many online outlets now that all you need is the determination get published, the ability to put down your thoughts and to find your own voice. And edit. A lot.
I make it sound easy, but there were some tough times. Getting lost on a regular basis wears you down, getting sick with a major eye infection and trying to find a doctor who accepts foreign patients was a struggle, and I often felt like an outsider - because travelers ARE outsiders. You have to accept that to some extent and fit in the best you can. My family worried about me, but pretty much accepted the fact that travel was in my blood.
I freelanced for a few years before starting my blog in 2009. I can't believe it's been 10 years already. Strangely, I sold the very first few articles I wrote to some big publications, the Toronto Star, the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Post. It's harder to get into print now, but easy to start your own blog. Once I'd built up a name, tourist boards and hotels started approaching me, and I was able to move into the luxury market - yet I still write about many of the same subjects that interested me when I was on a tight budget such as history, culture and outdoor adventure. I just stay in better places.
My takeaway from that first solo trip was that self-reliance is a skill anyone can learn, and that travel is a lifelong passion. I also learned that wherever you are, even if you're on your own, you can put down at least a few slender roots.

Carol Perehudoff in Europe

 

My First Solo Trip - A life that could have been VS a life that is

This is a great story from Amelia from A Winter Escape: My first overseas trip was when I was 19. My boyfriend had said to me, “why don’t we go somewhere a bit more like home, maybe New Zealand?” I was not keen on that idea so we booked an Intrepid tour of Vietnam. As you can probably imagine, it was a huge culture shock. But it was wonderful.

Spurred on by this experience, a few months later I packed again and set off for Europe by myself. The relationship I was in was quite toxic, and I was buckling under the weight of all the pressure I felt to be a better girlfriend, daughter, student, housemate... I was suffering from anxiety and depression and becoming quite isolated. I felt like I wanted to run away, but I also felt like I wanted more from life than to be miserable. I needed to change some things up in my life.

I had plans to meet up with my old exchange student who was living in Paris. It turned out, though, that we had both changed in the three years since we last saw each other, and we no longer really got along. It was time to strike out on my own.

That time in Europe was filled with the kind of adventure I’ll probably never have again. I danced the salsa with British solders in Budapest, attended a foam party in an old castle in Hvar, and got purposely lost in the canals of Venice. There were little romances along the way, and I made friends with all sorts of different people from all over the world. I made bad decisions, but good ones too. And I’m a richer person for having done both.

That first trip is the hardest. There were so many times I felt lonely, or anxious, and I called home and cried. But there were so many incredible moments where I learned about the world – about its history and culture – and I learned about myself. Who am I? What do I want out of life? And I learned to face problems head on without relying on anyone else to save me. I built strength and resilience, and confidence in myself. And I was able to experience a lot more of the world thanks to that new-found confidence.

I no longer get the opportunity to travel by myself. I’m married now with two kids, and we travel the world together. But I’m not the scared, anxious kid I was when I was 19. I’m a vibrant, confident, educated woman thanks to the experience of travelling solo, and one day I want my kids to do the same. In fact, I think travelling solo is something everyone should do.

 

She Roams Solo started as a community for solo travellers who had hesitations about taking a trip on their own. Nowadays it is a community of all female travellers who love to travel. We welcome all women and want to help and support you throughout your trip. Be it the confidence to book the ticket, advice on your trip or someone to meet up with for a coffee or drink. I hope you can get some value from the community. Join free and start meeting like-minded women. If you would like to add your first solo trip, we would love to hear it. Leave it in the comments or submit it with a photo.

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