Advice for the first-time solo traveler

Over at Vagabondish, Amanda Kendle offers some great advice and encouragement for anyone taking their first solo trip abroad. Research your destination, she writes, and sketch out a rough itinerary of your trip, but don’t over-do it:

“The most important aspect of your itinerary is that it must be flexible. Schedule days just for traveling, and extra days for contingencies. There are so many factors which might change your plans: you love or hate a place, someone you meet recommends somewhere unmissable that you hadn’t heard about, you get sick, the weather’s good or the weather’s bad.”

Indeed. One of the biggest mistakes first-time backpackers make is overplanning. So many times, I’ve heard people say, “I’d love to stay here a few more nights, but I’ve already reserved a room somewhere else,” or “I can’t stay; I told myself I’d be in Argentina by Sunday.” If there’s ever a time when you should be able to go where you want, when you want, it’s when you’re traveling.

Another piece of advice for the first-time traveler is this: Try not to get stuck on the well-worn backpackers trail. I know it’s not easy, especially for the first-time traveler, but traveling is so much more challenging and rewarding when we step off the usual path. So how to do this? First, I’d suggest Couchsurfing, which offers short homestays with locals in damn near every city in the world, even those well off the tourist trail.

Second, though we imagine guide books to cover every one-horse town in the world, that’s not the case. Stepping off the tourist trail can be as easy as hopping on a bus to a town (or village) that’s not listed in your guidebook. Granted, it may not be the most exciting town in the world, but it will still offer a peek at a place untouched by tourism. That’s more than can be said for almost everywhere else you’ll visit.

Read the full article here, and happy travels!