Traveling solo is one of those things that sounds a lot more terrifying that it is. It also goes hand-in-hand with backpacking and budget travel. Traveling alone as a student can be an amazing learning experience, teaching independence, going out of your comfort zone, decision making, and taking responsible risks. As a solo traveler, you have the freedom to choose what you want to do while still having the ability to make friends. I’ve done this since I was eighteen, and I prefer traveling alone to any other form of travel.

Interested in traveling solo but not sure what to expect? Here are a few steps to prepare for your first solo trip:

Step 1: Decide your route. This includes how long you want to travel, where you want to go, and how long you’ll stay in each place. Usually what I do when I’m planning a trip is I’ll make an idea board with photographs and phrase snippets of places I want to go on my route. Looking at maps and reading what others have done can help you sketch a rough outline of how you’d like to travel.

Step 2: Do your research. Find out what hostels you’d like to stay in, how to save money on attractions and how you’ll get from place to place. Read reviews on the places you’re considering. Does the city have public transit? Will you walk? Are you going to consider CouchSurfing? These are things to consider when researching your options.

Step 3: Prepare your budget. Figure out how much money you’d like to spend in total, then break it up based on what you’ll spend it on (e.g. accommodation, food, activities, transit, partying, etc.). This is where your research comes in handy.

Step 4: Connect the dots. Plan and book your accommodations, transit, and activities. Make a list of what you’d like to accomplish in each city, or just plan on being spontaneous. This is your “big picture” step, making sure your itinerary flows and your trip stays within your budget.

Step 5: Figure out the details. Find out the specifics on things you may not have thought about in your “big picture” planning. This can include how you’ll get from the airport or train station to your hostel, what you’ll use to lock up your valuables while you’re out exploring, calling in your travel to your credit and debit card companies, etc. Every trip has to have a good playlist, too!

Step 6: Go. This one’s self-explanatory, but once you’ve planned and researched your trip, it’s time to embark. Enjoy your trip and be sure to take plenty of pictures!

Some helpful articles for traveling solo:

Why I Love Traveling Alone

The Pros and Cons of Traveling Solo

And some helpful resources on how to travel solo if you’re new to it:

[links coming soon]

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