Planning Your First Solo Trip

April 10, 2019 in - 4 min read

“As you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal” – Robin S. Sharma

Being a traveler has always been a fantasy, I would spend my days just daydreaming of being in exotic destinations, breathing different air and just being observant of my surroundings while simultaneously having the time of my life. I mean, if we are being real, we all actually dream of that. To be honest, what motivated me to travel was reading my blogs and practicing what I preach – my blogs are all about ‘going for it’, ‘taking care of yourself’, ‘doing what you love’ and ‘making things happen for yourself’. Well, you don’t even have to read my blogs to know what I blog about, it’s all in the name too – Budding Regardless. So when I was making travel plans I just told myself that I have to stick to them no matter what, even if that means going alone – let’s go for it. And that’s exactly what I have started doing.

South Street, Philadelphia

I was lucky enough to have my first solo trip paid for. So when I was asked where I wanted to go, I kinda immediately thought of Philadelphia because of it’s close proximity to New York (2h30min) and the interesting sights to see in this city. The only thing I had to stress about is making my solo trip comfortable, easy and fun.

Generally, traveling is associated with family, friends and lovers and since that is the norm it makes traveling alone a taboo concept for some. Well, in a sense I guess it also depends on what kind of person you are – some of my friends and family wouldn’t travel alone because that’s weird and scary but when I told them I will be traveling alone they didn’t ask questions or worried about me and those who are finding out now that I was actually alone in Philadelphia probably aren’t surprised either.

I had about 10 days to put together an itinerary (a planned route or journey) and I had planned to make this a ‘walking trip’, I wanted to walk to all the places I wanted to see and avoid getting an Uber (this is not something you have to do). I carefully created my itinerary, I committed myself to it and ticked off everything on the list in one day. I started off at the One Liberty Observation Deck (amazing views of Philly), then headed to the City Hall (which is the tallest building in the world that has a statue on top of it), then I went to the Magic Gardens, Spruce Street Harbor Park, Independence Hall, Liberty Bell, Elfreth’s Alley, Franklin Square, Chinatown, Reading Terminal Market, LOVE Park and finished off at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Yes, all of that in one day! Yes, alone! Yes, walking! I pretty much walked the whole city and found myself back where I started.

My trip was such a success because I had planned everything perfectly prior to actually going to Philly so I have put together some tips on how I managed to do this and I hope it helps and inspires you to take that first solo adventure too…

1. Mentally prepare yourself

Give yourself at least 2 weeks to process the fact that you are going away alone, remind yourself everyday and try to stay excited about it.

2. Do thorough research about your destination.

Know interesting facts about it, sights to see and places to eat. This will also contribute in keeping you excited and looking forward to the trip.

3. Familiarize yourself with Google maps

Every now and then, zoom in and out on Maps and locate the places you would like to see and you can even measure how far one place is from another and write it down so that you know how many sights you can see in one day and what mode of transportation to use.

4. Choose your accommodation wisely

Since it is your first time traveling alone, I highly advise you stay in a hotel instead of a hostel or Airbnb. Be somewhere you know for a fact that you will be relaxed and comfortable in, just in case you get overwhelmed, change your mind and feel like staying in throughout your whole trip – a hotel is a perfect place to stay-in and just Netflix and chill.

5. Make it a learning experience

One way to make the most out of traveling alone is setting a goal to learn. Go there to observe people’s behaviors and compare your expectations to the reality, just be on the lookout and you will be surprised about how many things you notice and those little things will give you fascinating stories to tell when you go back home.

That’s it for now,

Click here to watch my Highlights from Philadelphia


  • Agima Digital August 1, 2023 at

    This was great too read

  • […] Related | Planning Your First Solo Trip […]

  • […] First solo trip blog post […]

  • AdorkableAdventures May 14, 2019 at

    Great tips!

  • Asanda May 13, 2019 at

    Girl I’ve been do scared to travel alone… But this this right here gave me inspiration I wanna do this next year for my birthday.

  • CLEvangelism April 18, 2019 at

    Philly was smart. My first solo trip was to St. Maarten, where one side of the island is French and the other side was Dutch. I speak neither. 😶 When I got irretrievably lost late one night — in the rain — and couldn’t find anyone who spoke English, I wound up in tears. And I am not a crier.
    I wound up traveling solo to the Big Island of Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai because a) you get the best of both worlds: tropical beauty and English, and b) there’s only so far you can drive north, south, east, or west before you get wet. 😂

  • questionsfromateenager April 12, 2019 at

    I loved reading about your experiences. I think that a lot of people are very anxious to travel by themselves, especially for the first time. Personally, I find it to be so freeing. As weird as it sounds, it’s a way of checking in with yourself again and spending some quality time with, well, yourself. (which is SO important) It also makes you feel more comfortable with being alone.

    • Mbalenhle April 14, 2019 at

      Omw I absolutely agree with what you just said – it is so freeing! I guess some people are kinda uncomfortable with being with their own selves and typically dependent on others for entertainment and fun hence why they wouldn’t consider traveling alone. Thank you so much for sharing 💕

  • Mariam Shittu April 11, 2019 at

    I enjoy traveling alone too. I went to Kenya alone last year and some people found it strange but I didn’t care. I was hoping to see some cool photos. I hope they’re coming soon. Thanks for sharing the tips.

    • Mbalenhle April 14, 2019 at

      Haha, trust me, people will always find it weird when we tell them we are traveling alone but they are weird for holding themselves back.
      PS: The link to all the photos and videos is at the end of the post 💕

  • Lael-Heart April 10, 2019 at

    These are all great tips! I especially like the first one. There is a certain horror that overtakes one the first time they realize they are ALONE. I betcha, your tip would help alleviate that.
    I travelled alone to Peru and Tanzania. I was scared to go Peru but survived and thrived so well that going to Tanzania was a breeze. I’ve found that once people find out you’re alone, they kind of take it upon themselves to take care of you, even in small ways, and that in itself makes for some really sincere and rewarding experiences. I just don’t think I’d get them, if I was with another person or a big group. So now, I prefer to go alone, which is funny considering my fear on my first trip.

    • Mbalenhle April 14, 2019 at

      Oh yes, reminding yourself and staying excited for your trip is pretty essential.
      And you have just raised something that is true but hadn’t realized until now – when people find out that you are traveling alone, they really do try to take care of you and give you some sort of reassurance that everything is going to be okay. Thank you so much for sharing 💕

  • tsepotheview April 10, 2019 at

    Well traveling alone as in like first time would be really uncomfortable for me unless is business related but your let’s go for it term is bringing up a lot of things that in have never had courage to go for them before like starting a new business and making new friends.

    • Mbalenhle April 14, 2019 at

      I am so glad I have inspired you a little to ‘go for it!’. Think about it, if you spend all your days waiting to find someone to travel with, you might just wait your whole life so you might as well do things on your own🍃

  • Liz April 10, 2019 at

    Great post for newbie travellers. I remember preparing my first trip and using Google to help me find places. I still do use it. I done think you can go wrong with it, as later when I went somewhere for a week that I visit once or twice a year, it helped me to find my way around better.

    When you plan your first trip, that planning is a learning experience too, as after your first trip, you may plan how to do things differently next time.

    • Mbalenhle April 14, 2019 at

      Oh Google maps is totally underrated, I mean, it does get frustrating sometimes especially when you are walking but I love how it quickly reroutes you to the next shortest way if you get a little lost. Thanks for stopping by Liz 🍃

      • Liz April 15, 2019 at

        When I use Google maps, I mostly print off mine when I have planned the route I am going to take. But one time, I do remember going the long way about it and got lost. 🙂

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    About Me

    Hi and welcome! My name is Mbalenhle K but everyone calls me Mbali for short (say: mm-bah-lee). I am a freelance copywriter who loves all things art, experiences and aesthetics (big time Pinterest gworl 🧚🏽)! I am the founder of Budding Regardless where I talk about mindfulness, self-development and self-nurturing for creatives. Read More

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