Skip Navigation

First time!

Travel Forums Round the World Travel First time!

1. Posted by Lauracathy (Budding Member 3 posts) 20w

Hello!

I've been thinking of traveling for years and constantly having friends or partners that aren't up for it or can't afford it and now that I'm out of a long and boring relationships I've finally decided to work and work and work whilst living with my parents so I can save and just go.
Buttttt I'm scared. If I do it alone how do I do it? Do I book through like guided tours? Or are there like companies that do things for single travelers? My only fear is I am quiet naive and feel id get lost or injured quiet easily if completely left alone.

If any has any advice on what I can do or look up or any experience be brilliant thank you ☺️

Ps. I'm from England

2. Posted by Tabithag (Budding Member 52 posts) 20w

Hi. I travel with my husband, but we have done a couple of trips with Dragoman where most people are single travellers. Drago does truck trips, and I thought the ones we did (eleven weeks in South America and three weeks in Myanmar) were great. Their sister company, Intrepid does similar, but using public transport, which may be a better introduction to lone travel. I also know people who have done trips with G Adventures, and they recommend them.

I suspect you would find travelling alone easier than you think, especially if you start somewhere 'easy' either English speaking or with a well established trail. But these trips could be a good starting point for you to get used to travelling. Perhaps start with a tour like this and then aim to do some independently; you can always book another tour if you're still not comfortable going it alone. Good luck.

3. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4810 posts) 20w

This is a hard question, and there isn't a single right answer. A lot depends on what you want out of travelling - you have been thinking about it for years, but what is it that appeals? The experiences you'd have, unlike anything you'd experience at home? The places you'd see, each with a rich and layered tapestry of history and culture, or rather suffused with natural beauty and wildlife beyond belief? The people with habits and insights and dreams that you'd want to learn about? Just being away from it all as cheaply and as long as possible?
Do you want to be able to brag about your travels to friends and family, do you want to be able to tell your grandchildren about it all, or do you want to head out first and foremost for yourself?

People on this forum tend to recommend doing everything independently, preferably solo. There are a lot of advantages inherent in that way of travelling. But it's not the only way of travelling. I suspect the vast majority of people - particularly those travelling for a relatively short time - do so as part of some organized trip; a package holiday, a tour, whatever. And by all reports, they have a great time doing so. And maybe that mode of travel would offer you everything you're looking for, with the least amount of hassle, and maybe that's important for you, and then that's what you should do.

But for the moment I'm going to be a spokesperson for the "do it independently, by yourself" crowd (crowd likely consisting of just myself, because pretty much everyone will disagree with at least one of the things I saw, recommending doing it slightly differently). :)

I make a distinction between "holidaying" (what some call being a tourist) and "travelling". It's not a formal distinction, and I try (and probably fail) to not make a value judgment with it, but for me, what sets (long term) "travel" apart is that it's ultimately not an activity you can really plan or prepare for. A couple of days or weeks away from home, seeing a country or a few cities in depth, that you can plan. You can make a detailed itinerary, book all your accommodation in advance, make a checklist of sights you want to see, etc. You don't have to, but you can, and most people do. And if you're experienced, you'll set a good pace for that time, with enough rest moments to get to thoroughly appreciate the places you're visiting.

But long term travel, that's just too huge. You can't plan all of it - you have too make decisions while on the road, filling in your weeks as they happen, inherently giving you the ability to change your plans based on previous experiences. And that's scary when you've never done something like that before. However, it's also ultimately liberating.
(It's of course very useful to have a basic plan of action in the back of your mind. "2-3 months in this country, better not head to that other country before April due to the rainy season, ..." But the details will by necessity remain vague, and you might not actually end up doing everything according to this plan.)

Solo travel has the chief benefit of you being the only one whose plans you have to take into account. Even more important for deciding not to do anything than for deciding what to do. Travelling together with someone else is an extremely intense experience, capable of destroying lifelong friendships and relationships. Travelling with a near-stranger... That's great for an unknown amount of time, but only as long as you have the complete freedom to ditch them as soon as they start to get on your nerves. If you're dependent on each other, it can swiftly become hell.

When you set out travelling the first time, it'll be completely overwhelming. But very swiftly, you'll develop a unique routine - habits which work for you - which allow you to see and do things, while still having enough time to research and make some plans for the next week, take care of basic necessities like cooking and grocery shopping (after finding out where the nearest supermarket is, and how they do the layout of those in this country), and to take the necessary downtime to assimilate the experiences you've just been having. Without the benefit of pre-planning everything while at home, you can't set the same pace as you would when holidaying. And that's actually a benefit, because the hours reading up in your guidebook on where to go next, or talking with fellow travellers on what all they saw and did, trying to decide if you want to go east or west, or just wandering around through a new city without any knowledge of what's there to see and do - those times will anchor you much more in whichever place you'll find yourself at. You'll stick around for several days longer than you'd otherwise have done - long enough to develop routines and habits. You'll find a favorite spot by the waterside, get to know the waiter at that corner cafe with the amazing pancakes, take the time to explore that used bookstore down the road, etc. And forever more, that city will feel a little bit like home whenever you pass by. And because you'll really be on the road for months upon months, there's far less pressure to set a pace and cram everything in. You really can linger if you like a place. You can take a day off when it's raining and you're just having a meh day. Curl up on the couch of your hostel with a cup of tea and a book, sit behind the big windows to people watch, and who knows what interesting conversations you'll strike up with fellow travellers?

Practicalities depend a lot on what your interests and budget are. A Working Holiday Visa for Australia or New Zealand is a common choice (and how I started out myself). Those will allow you to stay in the country for 1-2 years and work to earn enough money to keep travelling, assuming you're not yet 31 (with a separate option for New Zealand for 31-35 year olds from the UK). Both countries will feel very familiar with culture and the way of doing things, helping a lot with not freaking out too much about how scary it all is, all while still having gorgeous and radically different landscapes and nature. Work is a bit of a must, particularly in Australia, which tends to be bloody expensive.
Other people head to SE Asia, where your money can stretch for quite a long time, and especially Thailand makes for a very gentle introduction to a vastly different culture. Extremely well trodden, so lots and lots of experiences and tips to be found, and lots of fellow travellers around.
Europe is of course a great option, too. You can work legally everywhere in the EU, and there's enough to see and do to fill a lifetime. Might feel too much like home, though, and most of Western Europe will be really very expensive, so work becomes essential.

So... where to start? Only you can tell. Figure out what your interest are. Figure out what destination and mode of travelling goes with that. Pick up a guidebook for that destination, and start reading. (Despite their quality deteriorating, I still tend to recommend lonely planets, simply because that's how I got started, and their "practical matters" sections are really very helpful with getting an overview of everything you should know.)
When your questions get a bit more concrete, we can assist with all manner of detailed help and recommendations, too, and will gladly do so. :) Good luck with it all!

[ Edit: Edited on 10-May-2016, at 10:59 by Sander ]

4. Posted by gunterosa (Budding Member 2 posts) 19w

Quoting Lauracathy

Hello!

I've been thinking of traveling for years and constantly having friends or partners that aren't up for it or can't afford it and now that I'm out of a long and boring relationships I've finally decided to work and work and work whilst living with my parents so I can save and just go.
Buttttt I'm scared. If I do it alone how do I do it? Do I book through like guided tours? Or are there like companies that do things for single travelers? My only fear is I am quiet naive and feel id get lost or injured quiet easily if completely left alone.

If any has any advice on what I can do or look up or any experience be brilliant thank you ☺️

Ps. I'm from England

Hi Laura! Is the first time also for me to travel solo (at least I'm considering it!) What are your plans??

5. Posted by OldPro (Respected Member 219 posts) 19w

Well first I would want to know just what you mean by 'travelling'. Sander has given you a very good response on long term solo travel but you may just be thinking of a 4 day trip to Paris and asking if you should go alone or book a tour company package.

So what do you mean when you say 'travelling'? For how long, to where, with what kind of budget? Have you ever travelled anywhere at all before? A package holiday to Benidorm for example. Or have you never been outside of your local village?

You leave out more relevant information than you include. The clearer the picture of your situation you give, the more relevant responses can be.

6. Posted by Lauracathy (Budding Member 3 posts) 19w

I've been looking into the working holiday visas for Australia. I've seen a few good packages that offer the support for first timers what with bank accounts accommodation whilst you look for your own ect.

I'm thinking of going to Australia next year just unsure one whether these packages are really as good as they seem or scams?

7. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4810 posts) 19w

Somewhere in between, really. They're pretty much unnecessary, and quite expensive. Setting up a bank account is pretty much trivial. You really don't need help with it (just walk into a bank, tell them you're there on a WHV and want to open an account). Same with getting a tax file number (Just go to the relevant website and fill in the forms). Same with getting the WHV itself, the official site is the cheapest and fastest way to do that, and on a package they'd just charge you money to fill in the same information in a different set of online forms. Same with accommodation: Check out the accommodation section here on travellerspoint, read some reviews, book a decent looking hostel; you really don't need help with that. Most of the activities they include in these packages are nice, but rather expensive, and really superfluous. And you'll meet up plenty of people on your own.

So really, what these packages offer is a sense of security and having a company to fall back on if you freak out. Most people feeling they need that have a pretty good time with the package. But then, most people not going with such a package also have a pretty good time.

[ Edit: Edited on 13-May-2016, at 14:32 by Sander ]

8. Posted by limdrew37 (Budding Member 15 posts) 19w

I will definitely monitor this thread as I am also planning to do a solo travelling by next year. As for now, I am saving a lot to finance for my trip. There are affordable package tours from different companies but you really have to check that out and make sure you will not be fooled by some agencies offering too good to be true packages.

9. Posted by Borisborough (Respected Member 430 posts) 19w

"As for now, I am saving a lot to finance for my trip." - limdrew37. Interesting! According to your profile picture, you're (Alexander) Xian Lim, a particularly famous actor in China and the Philippines and as such have the finances for travel at your fingertips.

"...make sure you will not be fooled by ... too good to be true packages." Exactly!

10. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4810 posts) 19w

I'm looking forward to the moment when Xian Lim will finally end the current Markov chains and drop the URL of those tours that 'he' considers to be just right.

[ Edit: Edited on 14-May-2016, at 03:03 by Sander ]