Travel

Solo Travel – My First Experience and 7 Tips for a Successful Trip

Nassau Bahamas Atlantis Chair Style by Belle Solo Travel

Ahhh, I remember my first ever international solo trip back in 2009. I used to travel for work then so I had done quite a bit of solo travel within the country but never internationally. It had been a stressful month and I needed to get away from everything and everyone so I decided to find a beach destination. Psshhh if only I could exchange what I thought was stress then for today haha!

Anyway, back then Orbitz had a ‘last minute weekend’ feature where you could just put in your weekend dates up to 3 weeks away and it would give you some trip options. I found a 4-day round trip fare to Nassau, Bahamas for less than $175 and so I was like ‘bet’ and booked it! Later on, I would come to find out that while getting to the Bahamas is cheap, staying there is a whole other story! I almost didn’t go when I started looking at hotel prices and taxes lol, but Hotwire came through in the clutch! Below I’m sharing my experience woven in with 7 tips for a successful solo trip.

1. Take media ”scare tactics” with a grain of salt

I read an article recently that just had me shaking my head. It listed 10 countries to avoid because they’re unsafe. “Don’t visit Mexico” it said because there’s gang violence. Avoid Africa because the crime rate is extremely high. And on and on it went. Wow! We’re just gonna take whole, entire countries and a continents and put a big, large red ‘X’ on them? Mmkay then. It’s like saying “don’t visit the US because people are out with their guns shooting everywhere”. Of course there are bad things going on in cities all around the world, just be sure to do your own research. And yes, you can travel to Cuba as a US citizen and should.

Nassau Bahamas Market Style by Belle

At the market by the cruise ship docks. I could write a book about the funny pickup lines

 

2. Join a solo travel group on Facebook

Now groups weren’t a thing (I don’t think) back when I took my trip but I recently joined a few groups specifically for women who travel, and I’ve found a wealth of information in them.  You get first-hand advice from people who have taken similar trips or even the same trip you are considering. You get tips and tricks, travel hacks, and might even meet new travel buddies. Also, you might find people who’ll be in the same destination at the same time as you, and you can meet up if you are okay with that. The key is to find a group with members you can relate to, and where you feel comfortable.

3. Connect with other travelers at your destination

No easier way to really connect with other travelers than when you’re by yourself. Of course this can also happen when you travel with someone/other people, but you always have them as a fall back. Plus you generally have a schedule of activities and it’s hard to switch it up on the fly. Some of the best travel connections I’ve made were when I was traveling alone. I met so many fellow travelers on my Bahamas trip that I lost count. It’s also a popular cruise destination so there were loads of people from the cruise ship exploring for the day.

Nassau Bahamas Night Style by Belle Solo Travel

Met some folks who were in Nassau for business plus a fellow solo traveler, and we all ended up hanging out that night. Ah, let’s not tell the story of how I lost my favorite earrings 🙁

 

On a different solo trip a couple years ago, I met this family on a day trip to Capri and they “adopted” me and took great care of me. Unfortunately my phone ate their contact information and I wasn’t able to keep in touch :(. I met a lady on the same trip who was from Dallas (I was considering moving there at the time) and she shared some job contacts with me. I’ve been in situations where I completely switched up my plan and joined someone else/another group because their plans sounded more fun than mine haha. I could go on and on about this one but you get the point.

4. Interact with the locals, but keep your wits about you

The locals are invaluable when it comes to exploring the authentic, non-touristy parts of your destination. On my first day in Nassau, I met some locals as I was walking around exploring, and they ended the conversation with “see you at fish fry“. After I met their comment with the blankest of stares, they insisted that it would be sacrilegious if I left the island without indulging in the ultimate Bahamian experience. Later that evening, I came to learn all about conch and the different ways to enjoy it, and it was all on the house!

Nassau Bahamas Official Style by Belle

Met a nice family and their son joined my photo. Borrowed the officer’s “weapon” for protection lol

 

Nassau Bahamas Smoothie Style by Belle

He invited me into his smoothie stand and made me the most amazing fresh drink for free, top shelf. I learnt A LOT from him during our conversation.

 

Nassau Bahamas Conch Style by Belle Solo Travel

There was conch everywhere!

 

On a different note, let me tell you about ‘cousin’. I was in line waiting to pay for a boat tour, and he approached me with an offer to help me purchase my $6 ticket. See I already knew the fare was actually $3 and he was trying to dupe me to pay for him. Nah bruh, I’m Nigerian and my spidey sense is always on when it comes to things like this.  Well, $3 isn’t that much I thought, so I cut a deal with him instead after calling him out. I would pay his fare, he would get me out of the line and also become my photographer. We shook hands and made the deal, and I had a photographer for the day lol. I just made sure we never strayed from places with a lot of people.

Nassau Bahamas Atlantis Cousin Style by Belle

‘Cousin’

 

5. Research cultural differences/laws you might need to be aware of

I think this is also where the solo travel Facebook groups come in handy because you can get some first-hand advice, but Google is also your friend. Are you going to a country where the dressing is a little more modest than you’re used to? Well, this might be a trip to leave your short shorts at home. Will you be in a country where your credit card won’t work? Bring all the cash you’ll need. Are you going to a country where you need to bring your own toilet paper to use the bathrooms? Carry enough disposable wipes to last you for the trip. Side note, I always carry all kinds of disposable wipes on my trips. My friends laugh when we travel together, but they thank me in the end.

6. Book group tours/excursions

Let’s be real, while solo travel is great and adventurous, there are times when you might get lonely depending on where you are. That’s where group tours come in. I didn’t do any on my Bahamas trip because the way my bank account was set up, my travel budget was gone after I booked my hotels. The $3 boat tour was my only real excursion, but on subsequent trips, I’ve always tried to fit in a group excursion or two. The family I mentioned above, and the lady from Dallas were all people I met on group tours.

Nassau Bahamas Atlantis Style by Belle

On an excursion as part of the boat tour

 

7. Finally, just do it!

I love traveling with my friends as I love being around people but sometimes, I really really want to go somewhere that they all have zero interest in going. Why let that hold me back? If I hadn’t bought that ticket to Nassau on the spot, I might never have taken that trip. In the end, it turned out to be one of my most memorable trips ever! Just be sure to let someone know where you’re going and how they can reach you if needed.

So book that ticket, have an open mind, be safe, and have loads of fun.

If you need some destination inspiration for solo travel, here’s a list from Forbes. I really like that it includes some ‘not so usual’ destinations. As always, do your own research before you commit to it.

What’s your experience with solo travel? Is it something you’re into or do you always travel with people? I always love reading your comments so let me know!

Thanks so much as always and have a fantastic weekend! xx.

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28 Comments

  • Reply
    Carissa
    June 1, 2018 at 11:52 am

    WOW! Literally looks like an adventure of a life time…
    Totally lovin’ on the pictures and loads of information. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      Belle
      June 1, 2018 at 12:13 pm

      Thanks so much Carissa! It really was and kicked off my travel obsession!

  • Reply
    Joy Moseri
    June 1, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    Solo trip…..🙈I’m easily “kidnapable”…….lol my first solo trip to Paris was happenstance and will always remember it. However, the fear I put my family through has assuage my desire for solo trips. I’m lucky to have very adventurous friends like you I can explore the world with.

    • Reply
      Belle
      June 1, 2018 at 2:56 pm

      Lol. I can’t with you! But yes to exploring together! 🙌🏾😍

  • Reply
    Lizzy
    June 1, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    Traveling by myself is something I have always wanted to do! The first tip really spoke to me — there are so many scare tactics (especially for women solo traveling) that are oftentimes untrue!

    • Reply
      Belle
      June 1, 2018 at 2:57 pm

      You should do it!
      And yes, exactly! It’s always important to do your own research to determine what’s true and what’s not.

  • Reply
    Kristie
    June 1, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    This post has a lot of great tips. I’ve never traveled solo internationally before, so it made me think maybe someday I’d do that. My friend participates in solo travel FB groups, and she also speaks very highly of them!

    • Reply
      Belle
      June 1, 2018 at 2:58 pm

      You should definitely give it a shot. Yup! The Facebook groups have been so helpful for me.

  • Reply
    ashlyn boyd
    June 1, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    im studying abroad this summer for 4 weeks and it will be my first solo travel! super excited

    • Reply
      Belle
      June 1, 2018 at 4:15 pm

      Oooo that’s exciting! I always wished I had the opportunity to study abroad. Enjoy the experience.

  • Reply
    Cocoa
    June 1, 2018 at 4:53 pm

    I am my own best friend…😜…with this in mind, I do lots of things solo and while I’ve had several groups/girlfriend trips, I absolutely prefer solo trips and will chose it anyday! My first was to Switzerland and boy should I say I never felt alone my 6 days there. I ended up having a brother, a family from Philippines who adopted me, a South African sister, and a South African Uncle and I still keep in touch with all of them. I also recently joined Internations and the beauty of it is you can sign up for events in any country you find yourself in that has a chapter. It’s a good way to meet locals and other travelers. I recently used it in Montreal and London and it was nothing but fun. #ILiveToTravelSolo

    • Reply
      Belle
      June 1, 2018 at 6:05 pm

      Haha! I knew this would hit your spot! You are the ultimate solo traveler. Good point about Internations. Great tip for my next trip xx

  • Reply
    Nene U.
    June 1, 2018 at 11:59 pm

    Wow! As always, what a great read! Looking forward to some solo travel adventures.☺

    • Reply
      Belle
      June 3, 2018 at 11:21 am

      Aww thanks so much! And yes YES to solo travel adventures. xx

  • Reply
    Kim
    June 2, 2018 at 11:41 am

    Awesome practical tips that I hope will guide those who are still afraid to travel solo. I did my first solo trip in 2009 too and it was to India. Bahamas is beautiful like the rest of the Caribbean.

    • Reply
      Belle
      June 3, 2018 at 11:22 am

      Thanks so much! I hope so too! Never been to India but it’s definitely on my list!!

  • Reply
    Samantha
    June 2, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    I love #1! It is crazy how much influence the media has on where people travel. Until I started seeing more and more people traveling to these places on Instagram, especially solo traveling, I believed it! Now I take these “travel alerts” mostly with a grain of salt.

    • Reply
      Belle
      June 3, 2018 at 11:23 am

      Exactly! We have to research and build our own awareness. Thanks for your comment!!

  • Reply
    Holly
    June 2, 2018 at 10:57 pm

    I could not agree more with your first point! My sister-in-law (+ typical travel partner) and I were just talking about this today actually, saying that we want to go to some places that people will probably judge us for because they are deemed “unsafe” in the media. It’s of course important to do your research and make sure you stay safe, but it’s also important to not just get scared away from entire countries because of what everyone is saying.

    • Reply
      Belle
      June 3, 2018 at 11:26 am

      O if I could count the number of times I’ve been judged for going to “unsafe” places. You’re exactly right. Take the information and do your own research! Thanks for your comment!! xx

  • Reply
    Sam @ The Haunted Housewife
    June 4, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    These are things I never would have thought of. I’d love to just escape for a bit by myself. Thank you for the tips!

    • Reply
      Belle
      June 4, 2018 at 8:42 pm

      Thanks Sam! Sometimes a solo escape is just what we need :).

  • Reply
    Amanda
    June 5, 2018 at 11:18 am

    I give a lot of props to those who travel solo. I don’t think I could ever do it.

    • Reply
      Belle
      June 5, 2018 at 6:15 pm

      Ha. I hear ya. It’s definitely not for everyone. Never say never though ;). xx

  • Reply
    Michelle
    June 5, 2018 at 11:25 am

    I plan to do a lot of traveling once my kids get older. I’m not much interested in traveling with my kids simply because they require a lot more stuff and I know my focus will be split But It will happen for me in a few years time hopefully. Great photos by the way!

    • Reply
      Belle
      June 5, 2018 at 6:17 pm

      Thanks Michelle! I haven’t travelled with kids but I know it requires a lot. Good luck with your future travels! xx

  • Reply
    Bridget | Nutty Hiker
    June 5, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    I have yet to travel solo (other than going to visit family, etc..) but can’t wait to do it! Thanks for the tips! My first solo trip is coming up!

    • Reply
      Belle
      June 5, 2018 at 7:26 pm

      Yay! Hope you enjoy it!! xx

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