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10 Tips To Get The Most Out of Your First Solo Travel Experience

10 Tips To Get The Most Out of Your First Solo Travel Experience

So you have your shiny new backpack, itinerary planned, flights booked and with stars in your eyes, you’re ready to go on your first solo trip abroad. The one that’s supposed to change your perception of life and make you fall in love with the world like never before. Wait a minute, all of that actually depends on how proactive you’re going to be about solo travel. Here are ten tips to make the most out of your first solo backpacking trip.

1. Plan Your Arrival 

On your first solo trip go easy on yourself and book your accommodation and transport in advance if you’re arriving late into the night. Try to get your accommodation to pick you up. I promise you that you’ll love yourself for it when you’re hazy from the long flight and cannot be bothered to queue up in line, take a rickety bus ride or look for a hostel.

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    2. Explore As Much As You Can

    Don’t stay cooped up in your hostel, hotel or guest house. Don’t waste too much time on the Internet or on Skype. You’re travelling solo for the first time in your life and the world is your oyster. So go on, get a map and explore the place; walk, hike, wander, take buses and trains, get a little lost but breathe it all in and get the most out of your journey.

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      3. Say Yes To (Almost) Everything

      Try to say “Yes”, to everything that is legal and seems reasonable, even if it’s new, scary or something you can’t imagine yourself doing, whether it’s an invitation to join someone for lunch, attend a local wedding, go to a party with people you don’t know very well, face your fear of heights, try strange looking local food (deep fried crickets, anyone?!) or paddle out to a river on a raft with someone you just met at your hostel. Saying “Yes” instead of “I’m not sure” or “Maybe another time”, can make a huge difference to how fruitful and life changing your first solo trip is going to be.

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         4. Smile More Often Than You Usually Do

        You may think this one’s going to make you look crazy but stop being so self-conscious already. The cliché that a smile speaks all languages is absolutely true. It’s a great ice breaker and helps you relax, open up, meet new people and talk to locals. It’s also a sign of confidence and a warm personality. Smile at your hosts, fellow travelers in common areas, hostel staff, waiters, bartenders, store keepers and the friendly villagers you meet on your journey. The opportunities for unique experiences that these smiles can bring are endless.

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          Photo by Rory MacLeod

          5. Be Thankful For The Kindness of Strangers

          At some point in your travels you’re probably going to experience kindness, warmth and friendliness from strangers or new friends, often when you don’t expect it. Your hostel owner may offer to pick you up at the airport for free or take you on a walking tour of the city on your first morning, or a friendly local family may invite you home for lunch one day.  Recognize when this happens, be grateful and don’t be lazy about expressing your gratitude. In our daily lives, we end up taking the niceness of people for granted. When this happens in a foreign country, where you’re travelling solo and may not even speak the local language, you should consider yourself fortunate and really let the other person know how thankful you are. Do something good for them in return; get a small gift or thank you note or teach them a useful skill such as English. This not only makes people happy but also reflects positively on your own culture.

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            6. Look Around Minus The Camera

            When I say look, I mean really look at new things; landscapes, buildings, pictures, markets, sculptures, gardens, waterfalls, mountains, temples, people, sunsets and food. Notice the details, designs, art, craftsmanship and colors with your eyes and not just through the lens of your camera. There will always be priceless moments that cannot be captured in your photos but if you only put the camera away for a little while, you’ll realize that it’s very enjoyable to experience new sights without constantly trying to get the ‘perfect’ shot. On my travels, I see way too many tourists obsessed with taking pictures, so much that it’s almost like an impulse to point the camera at every little thing. They have no idea what they’re actually missing and when they’re being ridiculously inappropriate.

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              Photo by Ben Kucinski 

               7. Keep Important Documents Handy

              You should always have a copy of your passport and visa for the country with you when you’re sightseeing or exploring a place, regardless of which part of the world you’re in. You might be asked by officials to show these documents and these are your identification papers in case of accidents or any other unfortunate events.

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                Photo by media.digest

                8. Don’t Fall Into The Souvenir Trap

                You’ll be tempted to buy many ‘exotic’ souvenirs, one for each family member, friend or relative. A lot of travelers buy way too many souvenirs than they actually need (do we ever need them?) Very often these are highly priced, low quality, mass produced items that are being marketed as one of a kind or handmade. Buy things that are truly unique at a fair price and contribute to sustaining local crafts and communities. You won’t find these products at every souvenir store in the tourist ghettos. Remember, it’s wiser to use your money to accumulate experiences rather than things.

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                  9. Don’t Be Afraid to Break The Stereotype

                  If you’re craving a burger from McDonald’s or a good old Chocolate Cake, get one by all means. Ignore the countless blogs or travelers on the road who tell you that not having ‘authentic’ or ‘local’ food for every meal makes you less of a traveler. The holier-than-thou attitude of many seasoned travelers and longtime backpackers can make you falsely believe that doing as they do is what makes you a ‘real traveler’. This is not true, travel is what you make of it and that is totally up to you. It’s okay to want familiar comforts from time to time and however often you need. This obviously is different for different people depending on where they’re from, what their lifestyle is like at home and how long they’ve been on the road.  If you’re not the beer guzzling type, then you don’t need to fit yourself into the drunk-backpackers-partying-all-night box.

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                    Photo by Eric Molina

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                     10. Be Yourself

                    An important part of travelling solo is to learn to be comfortable in your own company, to like yourself and accept who you are. It’s surprising to see how many people struggle with this in their lives, trying too hard to fit into labels like ‘employee’, ‘father’, ‘wife’, ‘engineer’, ‘religious’ or ‘geek’, each with their own set of rules to behave, dress and live in and gradually losing sense of who they are as a person. Solo travel empowers you to understand and accept who you really are.  Give others a chance to get to know and like you as this person. Often you’ll feel that people you meet on the road are more accommodating and open minded, making it easier for you to be yourself.

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                      Photo by Blanca

                      Featured photo credit: Blanca via flickr.com

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                      Last Updated on September 25, 2019

                      How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

                      How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

                      As it appears, the human mind is not capable of not thinking, at least on the subconscious level. Our mind is always occupied by thoughts, whether we want to or not, and they influence our every action.

                      When we were still children, our thoughts seemed to be purely positive. Have you ever been around a 4-year old who doesn’t like a painting he or she drew? I haven’t. Instead, I see glee, exciting and pride in children’s eyes. But as the years go by, we clutter our mind with doubts, fears and self-deprecating thoughts.

                      Just imagine then, how much we limit ourselves in every aspect of our lives if we give negative thoughts too much power!

                      We’ll never go after that job we’ve always wanted because our nay-saying thoughts make us doubt our abilities.

                      We’ll never ask that person we like out on a date because we always think we’re not good enough.

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                      We’ll never risk quitting our job in order to pursue the life and the work of our dreams because we can’t get over our mental barrier that insists we’re too weak, too unimportant and too dumb.

                      We’ll never lose those pounds that risk our health because we believe we’re not capable of pushing our limits.

                      And we’ll never be able to fully see our inner potential because we simply don’t dare to question the voices in our head…

                      But enough is enough! It’s time to stop these limiting beliefs and come to a place of sanity, love and excitement about life, work and ourselves.

                      So, how can we tap into the power of positivity?

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                      “Happiness cannot come from without, it comes from within.” – Helen Keller

                      It’s not as hard as it may seem; you just have to practice, practice, practice. Here are 4 simple yet powerful ideas on how you can get started.

                      1. Learn to substitute every negative thought with a positive one.

                      Every time a negative thought crawls into your mind, replace it with a positive thought. It’s just like someone writes a phrase you don’t like on a blackboard and then you get up, erase it and write something much more to your liking.

                      Just take a look at these 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life.

                      2. See the positive side of every situation, even when you are surrounded by pure negativity.

                      This one is a bit harder to put into practice, which does not mean it’s impossible.

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                      You can find positivity in everything by mentally holding on to something positive, whether this be family, friends, your faith, nature, someone’s sparkling eyes or whatever other glimmer of beauty.

                      If you seek it, you will find it.

                      3. At least once a day, take a moment and think of 5 things you are grateful for.

                      This will lighten your mood and give you some perspective of what really is important in life and how many blessings surround you already.

                      Here’re 60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life that can inspire you.

                      4. Change the mental images you allow to enter your mind.

                      How you see yourself and your surroundings make a huge difference to your thinking.

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                      Instead of dwelling on dark, negative thoughts, consciously build and focus on positive, light and colorful images, thoughts and situations in your mind a few times a day.

                      Learn from this article how to change your mental images: How to Think Positive and Eliminate Negative Thoughts

                      If you are persistent and keep on working on yourself, your mind will automatically reject its negative thoughts and welcome the positive ones.

                      And remember:

                      You are (or will become) what you think you are.

                      This is reasonable enough to be proactive about whatever is going on in your head.

                      More About Staying Positive

                      Featured photo credit: Lauren Richmond via unsplash.com

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