How to Take a Solo Trip During Study Abroad

Sarah Davidson headshot
Sarah Davidson
December 21, 2023

Have you ever considered taking a solo trip during your study abroad? Most people have not, but I would highly recommend trying it out. I know it sounds scary and maybe a little lonely, but, I promise, if you put in just a little effort, you will meet people! And eating at a restaurant alone isn’t as terrifying as you’d think. I also think solo travel is a great way to get to know yourself, become comfortable in your own company, and learn to be more confident. If you decide to take one of these trips, here is my advice! I traveled by myself to Vietnam while doing my study abroad in Korea. Here are some helpful tips for your first solo trip: 

  1. Choose a solo travel friendly destination (especially if you’re a women) 

I’d recommend researching where you want to travel before you go and find out whether it’s hospitable to solo travelers. For your first time, at least, I’d pick somewhere well on the beaten track, so they’ll be lots of resources for tourists and you can meet plenty of other travelers. Usually, more people speak English in touristy places, too, so you’ll be able to better communicate with the locals and get around easier. 

  1. Wondering where to stay? Hostels are the answer!

Hostels are super cheap accommodation where you live in a dorm room with other travelers. You might be thinking, “Is this safe??” Obviously, it’s not foolproof, but generally hostels are very safe as most of a lot of other people staying there tend to be solo travelers too and hostels take precautions to make sure strangers cannot get in. Plus, they’ll be lockers to keep your valuables in. You can also choose to stay in a hostel dorm with other people from the same gender as you, so, if you’re a solo female traveler, they’ll usually be all-women dorms. Hostels are also a great way to meet other people. There’s typically common spaces where people hang out and activities that the hostel hosts that you can join in on. The hostel that I stayed at had activities every night. Make sure to book your hostel in advance, especially if it’s a popular tourism season. 

  1. What should I bring? 

Obviously, clothes, but you should pack light because there’s no one else to help you carry your bags or watch your stuff, and you’ll be moving a lot between airports, buses, trains, and taxis. I would generally adopt a minimalist mindset, only bringing what you absolutely need. I’d recommend investing in a good backpack that can fit a lot of stuff, but, if you’re only going for a few days (which is usually how much time you have during study abroad because of classes), then your regular backpack will probably work. I would also bring ear plugs and an eye mask if you’re staying at a hostel, especially if you’re a light sleeper like me. Bring flip flops and a small towel for the shower. Don’t forget an adapter if the country’s outlets are different than your own! 

  1. Do some planning 

While I think it’s best to leave yourself open to spontaneous new experiences by not scheduling too much, I do think you should have some plans ready to go so you’re not stressed once you get to your destination. For me, I booked a food tour and a day trip in advance and had a rough list of places I wanted to visit and food I wanted to try. But I didn’t end up doing all the things I put on my list because I ended up going on a spontaneous adventure around the city with some new people I met at my hostel, so be ready to ditch everything and go with the flow!

  1. Prepare yourself mentally and remember that you are capable 

I was pretty nervous before I went. I was scared something would go wrong and I would be all alone without any help. But it’s not as bad as you think. And your hostel or Airbnb is probably there to help you if it does. There’s no harm in calling someone from home too. I think that solo travel can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will take you out of your comfort zone and help you connect with people you wouldn’t normally ever have the chance to meet or talk to. 

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Sarah Davidson

My name is Sarah and I'm a student at Rice University. I'm a double major in history and anthropology, and I love to read and write. My favorite hobbies are walking around cities and trying new coffee shops!

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