You’ve read Step 1 in Planning Your First Solo Trip and now you want to choose your destination. Let’s review seven key things to consider so you’ll know how to choose your first solo trip over 40.
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Solo Travel Step 2:
How to Choose Your First Solo Trip Destination
1 – Avoid What Freaks You Out
Going on your first solo trip can give you butterflies in your stomach. There is no need to add more butterflies by taking on a trip that will max out your comfort level. If you’re overwhelmed on your first solo trip, you more than likely are not going to enjoy it. Let’s avoid that, ok?
Pick your battles. Do some soul searching on the following to find out how well you handle diversity to narrow down to those destinations that will make your trip as ‘freak-out free’ as possible.
Would not knowing what people are saying be too much for you to handle? This can be challenging even for a seasoned solo traveler. Keep in mind, however, with today’s technology there are ways to take the discomfort out of the language barrier.
Going to a country with a different language more than likely means a different culture, different foods and different music, etc.
Do you like to try different foods? Do you have any medical conditions or food allergies that may prohibit eating certain cuisine or is it best for you to stick to a diet much like your everyday life? Getting sick is no way to spend your first solo trip.
Would you find dealing with currency exchange rates too confusing? Exchange rates are a biggie in planning an international trip so you can properly budget, but they are also something to stay on top of while you’re traveling to ensure you don’t go over budget. Is this a task you’d want to do on your first solo trip?
Does sleeping in a dorm-style room not bother you or do you really like your privacy? If you don’t mind dorm rooms, how about co-ed dorm rooms? I encourage female solo travelers to take this into consideration – it can affect your comfort level and your accommodations budget. I also encourage the over 40’s to consider how comfortable they would feel sleeping in quarters with younger adults if they may be a bit louder and rowdier.
2 – What’s Your Solo Trip Budget?
Budget plays a huge factor in choosing your first solo trip destination. Normally, the two biggest purchases for travel are your transportation getting to and from the destination and the destination accommodations.
If you’re on a budget, sticking to less expensive destinations with less expensive activities is obviously a key point for you.
Will your destination require a rental car to get around or will you be able to see and do all you want via public transportation or ride sharing? Does the destination have public transportation options? Even if you’re not on a budget, I recommend checking out the local public transportation. You may find you like it better than any other mode of transportation on your trip. It’s also eco-friendly.
Hostel vs. Hotel?
Are you a backpacker? Then a hostel would be right up your alley. Hostels are a great way to meet people and lend towards cheaper accommodations if you don’t mind sharing a dorm-style room.
Some hostels also only have co-ed dorm rooms, so if you don’t feel like sleeping in a room with someone of the opposite sex, like I mentioned above, then you’ll want to look for either same-sex dorm rooms or stretch your budget for a private room.
Yes, some hostels do have private rooms, which can cost as much (or more) than a hotel. Still, I take advantage of their private rooms when I can. Like I said, hostels are a great way to meet people, especially other solo travelers.
If you want more upscale accommodations, get a hotel or try AirBnB or renting an apartment or house.
Don’t forget to keep in mind places that are environmentally friendly. These accommodations are trying to lower their carbon footprint while offering a great place to stay by using less water and energy, not using disposable plastics, and/or offering local, organic foods, for example.
Time of Year
Your destination’s high season is going to be the priciest time of year. Check the yearly weather conditions and currency exchange rates – if you can go off season you could still find good weather, less tourists, shorter lines, and save a ton of money on transportation, accommodations, food, entertainment and gift purchasing.
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3 – How Long is Your Solo Trip?
If you will only have 2 or 3 days on your trip, then that narrows your destination list right there. You wouldn’t want to spend more than 5 hours on a fight only to have 1 or 2 days on your vacation before you had to turn around and fly home again. Not to mention the air travel expense.
If you’re looking to max out those 14 days of vacation then, of course, you can allow for longer travel time without it eating into your actual vacation. It could also increase your trip budget, but then again, you’ve already thought of that.
CORR Travel Tip
The shorter your trip, the less baggage you bring. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you wouldn’t believe how much people overpack. Plus, if you are on a short trip, why spend more time than necessary standing in airport lines checking bags, picking them up, or going through customs? Take carry-on only at all possible times. It’s also in my top 10 eco-friendly travel tips.
4 – Safety Factors
Not worrying about safety increases your chances of enjoying your first solo trip. Do research of destinations you are considering at the country and local level to hear what governments, tourist or city tourism boards, or even travel bloggers, have to say about safety in the destination. Sites like the U.S. State Department’s Travel Advisories and SmarterTravel are also helpful.
Time of Year
Keep in mind sunset times of your possible destination. Day light is a good safety factor. The less day light you have could restrict your movements, lessen the number of activities you do in a day, and/or lessen your comfort level in a new place.
For example, I went to Brazil in July for milder weather. At that time, Brazil’s winter, the sun set around 5pm. Walking around certain parts of Rio de Janeiro can be sketchy, especially at night. I had to consider this in planning my solo activities in Rio.
5 – When Are You Leaving?
I highly recommend doing as much research as possible for your first solo trip. If you’re leaving in a few weeks, however, that doesn’t give you much time to plan. It can also increase your trip costs, as I mentioned above.
Don’t worry if you have a short planning period. You’ll probably just want to stick with a destination nearby and meets all of your ‘freak-out free’ bullet points we covered above.
If you are leaving in 10 to 12 months, say, then this gives you more time to research before taking the next steps of booking a flight and reserving hotel rooms, which is good because it also opens up your options on your first solo trip destination.
Holding on to that passport you got waiting for the perfect time to leave on your first solo trip? Then this opens up many destination possibilities for you, shortened planning time or not. It could take a couple of months to obtain a passport. However, you could look into expedited processing if you’re really wanting to travel internationally.
Even if you have a passport, check to see if a tourist visa is needed for your international destination, like on the U.S. State Department’s Travel Advisories. Some countries, like Brazil, can require a bit of time to acquire a tourist visa. There are ways around waiting times, like expedited services, but these will cost more to obtain said visa.
Check your government’s website, like the U.S. State Department’s Travel Advisories, on whether or not vaccinations are required for your solo trip destination. Certain vaccinations can require more than one round with a waiting period in between. I do not recommend skipping getting vaccinations if they are recommended for a destination simply because you didn’t allow enough time before your departure.
Time of Year
Of course, the time of year you leave can affect your travel budget, as mentioned above. It could also affect the number of flights, ferry services, or whatever coming and going to your destination, so research ahead if you’re going to have limited vacation time.
6 – Going 100% Solo?
After reading Step 1 in Planning Your First Solo Trip, you now should have a better idea on what type of solo traveler you will be and if you want to plan and book your first solo trip yourself. You should also have been starting to determine how much time you’d be comfortable spending alone or if you wish to break it up with day excursions or do a group tour.
This helps on how to choose a first solo trip destination because some group tours may not be offered in a destination you’d like, be available in the time of year you’re going, or be available for the amount of days you’ll be there. This also goes for day excursions – perhaps they are sold out? Some popular singles destinations could also sell out so, like I stated before, the more time you have to plan, the better.
If you’re completely comfortable being 100% solo on your first solo trip, or choosing an off-the-beaten-path destination, then you obviously have more options on destinations to choose from.
7 – What Does Your Solo Trip Look Like?
Here’s the really fun part: What exactly are you wanting to do on your first solo trip? Do you want high adrenaline adventure, like bungy jumping? Do you want to just lay on the beach with drink in hand and recharge? Perhaps you’re a huge art lover and have worn out your local art museums. Off the top of my head, I’d suggest New Zealand, Maui and New York City (or Paris), to answer those questions, respectively.
Knowing what you want to do, and be surrounded by, cannot be more important when choosing your first solo trip destination. Are you going to do something you’ve done before or try all new things: New food? New culture? New languages? New scenery?
Know what your destination has to offer. Also, consider the culture and laws of the destination. If you’re wanting to be topless on beach, a conservative country is probably not ideal. Do your research on your desired activities to see if they are ok where you’re going.
Where’s Your First Solo Trip Over 40 To Be?
Everyone has great suggestions on ‘the best place to travel solo first’, but only you know you. Now that you’ve gone through this blog post, I’m certain you’ll have narrowed your choices down to but a few or picked one already.
If you still need some recommendations, check out my travel guides. All of these are great locations for your first solo trip over 40 as long as they meet your specifications, too.
Let Me Hear From You
I would love to hear if this post was helpful on choosing your first solo trip over 40. Post me your thoughts or questions in the Comments section below. Thank you!