Editor’s Note: This article was written by Aubrie, also known as the our resident solo female travel blogger at Roamaroo.
Ever since I was little, I was fascinated by the European Christmas markets. The architecture of the buildings was impeccable, the quaint little tents set up everywhere with delectable and intricately designed cookies and assorted desserts, the Christmas lights, carnivals, snow lightly falling… all of it seemed so magical to me! It all seemed like a real life snow globe, waiting to be experienced. So last year when I found an amazingly cheap flight with Norwegian Airlines to Denmark in December, I knew I had to go! All of my Christmas dreams were falling into place! I decided I would go for a week and visit as many Christmas markets across Europe as I could. Up to this point, I had really only traveled with friends or family members. However, when I started asking around who would want to go with me, no one was seeming interested or they were booked up. I felt so disappointed that I finally had this opportunity to go to the Christmas markets and I wouldn’t be able to go because no one could go with me. Save up to 20% at thousands of hotels worldwide, across 6 Hilton
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Around this time, I had started hearing about all of these solo female travelers. I was in a couple of travel groups on Facebook and so many of these fearless females were always posting pictures of themselves in world landmarks…entirely alone! I remember thinking how brave they were and that I would never be able to do that.
As time went on, I started thinking that maybe I could still go to the Christmas markets. The only catch? I would have to go alone. I remember when I told my family and friends they were so nervous and thought that I was crazy. They kept asking, “Isn’t there anyone you can go with?” But the answer was no and I was not willing to miss out on something I had always wanted to do just because others couldn’t or didn’t want to go.
As I researched more about Solo travel, I saw that there was a lot of information about what to do once you are actually on your trip, but I wasn’t able to find out much about how to prepare before your first solo trip. I then sought out to discover what to do to prepare for solo travel!
1. Play Tourist in Your Own Hometown
Go to your downtown area or capital if it’s nearby and walk around by yourself and take in all of the sites! Often times, we haven’t really discovered the tourist places in our own backyards. You could also go to other cities nearby. Even though you are alone, you won’t feel as uncomfortable because these are areas that should be familiar or at least semi-familiar to you. If there is a public transportation system, try to master it or familiarize yourself with it to get used to taking public transit on your first official solo travel!
2. Hike Solo
Whether it’s going to a nearby National park or just a hike near your own backyard. I don’t feel like hiking alone feels lonely or “unnatural” because you can really tune into nature, go at your own pace and spend time taking pictures and maybe even practice taking pictures of yourself! You can bring a tripod along or nature seems to have a lot of “natural tripods” that I often use to perch my camera on for that great shot! Hiking alone will give you more confidence in yourself as well and this is the confidence you need when traveling alone. It will also start to give you the feelings of freedom you feel when traveling solo and the reason many people actually choose to solo travel.
3. Go to an Amusement Park Solo
This one will start to make you feel a bit more uncomfortable. Not a lot of people are at the amusement park alone and often times people will stare, unfortunately these are the same stares you will sometimes encounter if you travel solo. I think it is good to get used to these kind of uncomfortable situations before you head of on your first big solo trip so once you are actually on the trip, you will be used to it, be able to ignore it, or maybe even embrace it! You will be way too busy enjoying the sights any way to really pay attention to it.
4. Go to a Beach Solo
If you don’t live near a beach, perhaps you could head to a lake or maybe even just a nearby swimming pool. This might sound similar to hiking alone and going to an amusement park alone, but the point is to get out of your comfort zone and learn to enjoy being by yourself. It can also be really peaceful spending the day at the beach alone and you can learn a lot about yourself and prepare yourself for solo travel.
5. Spend Time Solo on Family or Friends Trips
This kind of happened to me by default because I traveled all around Asia with my brother and his wife and one night they were wanting to go out and be alone- which is understandable. However, at first, I remember being mad, I’m going to go off on my own? What am I going to do? Is it safe? Looking back, these times spent alone on trips with my family really helped prepare me for future solo trips. I made tons of friends those nights alone and truly never felt unsafe or lonely.
6. Play the Leader When you are Traveling With Others
I remember when I taught English in Ukraine, there were 10 of us girls so when we would go out exploring 1 or 2 girls kind of just played the leader- reading the metro maps, finding out where we needed to be, figuring out the Cyrillic alphabet and the rest of us just kind of followed along. It definitely doesn’t help to practice being a follower if you are preparing for a solo trip in the future so whether you are with family or friends- ask if you can take the lead! Figure out the metro maps on your own and lead them everywhere for that day. It will definitely give you the confidence you need without going all in yet, if you make a mistake- you have people to fall back on.
7. Take a Short Weekend Trip
If you are still feeling a little bit weary about solo travel, take a short weekend trip somewhere nearby. This will definitely help prepare you for longer and farther away solo trips. There are certain situations that you will only encounter while traveling and this will definitely give you good practice!
8. Travel Solo on a Tour or Study Abroad
Once you arrive at your destination, you will be with a group of other people so you won’t truly be alone, but since you technically went alone without any friends or anything, it will help give you the experience of making new friends and help you overcome any feelings of being alone. My first international trip was on a tour to Egypt and Israel. I was going alone, but once I was there I made so many friends and close relationships within the group. There is always some alone time on tours so you can either practice touring around solo or hang out with all of your new friends you’ve made!
9. Remember, You are Never Truly Alone
Last December, when planning for my first solo trip to the European Christmas markets, I wasn’t too concerned during the planning stages, but the night before, I almost started crying thinking that I had made a mistake- nerves really had gotten the best of me. I honestly was so nervous! I wrote that I would be headed to Copenhagen the next day in a Facebook Travel group I belong to- Girls Love Travel and I had a local girl message me that she would love to show me around! To be honest, even that made me nervous at first, meet a total stranger and have her show me around? I decided to do it and you know what? It was amazing and she showed me to so many local places I wouldn’t have known to go to otherwise! Everywhere I went, I ended up making friends! I went on a tour in Ireland and met 3 other solo travelers and we all instantly became friends! I even made 3 friends at the airport, when our flight to Belgium got cancelled due to the torrential weather in Ireland. We ended up spending all day together in Ireland. So please of course be safe and be smart. But also, remember you are never truly alone.