First Solo International Trip Experience (Tips&My Personal Experience)

First Solo International Trip Experience (Tips&My Personal Experience)

Recently I told you a story from 5 years ago about fighting my fears and traveling solo to another city for a music festival. Although that travel was inside my own country, that was an important milestone for me because it marked the moment I earned my first solo travel badge. Since then, I became more and more confident to have other small getaways in all corners of the country. Just me and my backpack. Actually, I became so confident that one day the idea of going on my first solo international trip popped into my head and irremediably stuck with me. In this article, I’m going to take you on a storytelling journey through my first solo international trip experience. However, this isn’t only about my trip; it’s also about sharing the precious knowledge I’ve gained, the thrilling obstacles I overcame, and the amazing places I encountered along the way.

Traveling alone offers a special chance for introspection, development, and self-guided exploration of the world. I want to walk you through every step of the way with this story: from the thrill of organizing your trip to the realities of traveling through foreign airports and the delights of experiencing a new culture. Along the way, I’ll also provide you helpful advice and suggestions for making the most of your own first solo international getaway.

The Story

The Spontaneous Decision

I didn’t put much thought into choosing my destination. I just found a great deal on plane tickets to a city that I really wanted to see in a long time and I bought them. Without overthinking it, I took the plunge, and before I knew it, I was bound for Budapest. That was it. From the first moment it felt right. It felt like it was time to try going somewhere solo. Of course, I had some concerns which I will discuss in the next sections, but nothing out of the ordinary. It wasn’t until I set foot for the first time in Hungary’s capital city that the voices in my head started to freak out.

The Language Barrier Conundrum

While planning the trip, my main concern was the language barrier. My country has a large Hungarian minority, but my knowledge of the language is mainly limited to Nem tudom magyar, which translates to I can’t speak Hungarian (oh, the irony). Well, I also know a short poem, but because it has some bad words, I imagined it wouldn’t have any usefulness in everyday conversations. Anyway, I had my hopes up that I would be just fine with speaking English. Needless to say my dreams were shattered multiple times within my first hour there.

After I landed in Budapest I had to take the bus 200E, which connects Terminal 2 to Kőbánya-Kispest metro station. I found it in a matter of seconds without any help, but when I reached the end of its route I felt a little lost and I asked someone for directions to get to the metro station. Did a say someone? Make it several someones. And all answered me with a shrug and a lost look on their faces. Rough translation of all that: Lady, I don’t know who you are and what you want from me because I don’t speak your weird language. It was clear that my first-hour experiences in Budapest were teaching me a valuable lesson: language barriers could be a significant hurdle.

🗣️ If you’re concerned about language barriers when traveling as well, read this guide to find out the most common myths and misconceptions related to them and how to overcome these barriers successfully.

So far my plan was unsuccessful and I understood pretty quickly that it will probably won’t lead anywhere in the near future. My solution? Trying to frantically decipher the weird writings on the walls and on various signs. I felt like Champollion on a smaller scale. Of course it didn’t help either, but intuition did. I finally found my way to the subway.

New Friends?

When I finally walked in the subway, I had a huge smile on my face and I felt the urge to do a dance of victory. I was actually considering it, when I realized the group of three people in front of me was speaking my language. Imagine my excitement. I felt no longer alone. In an instant, I took a seat next to them and said hello. Then, the usual questions followed: What are you doing here? Where are you staying? For how long? During the conversation, I found out that one of them was a solo traveler as well and didn’t know the other two. Five minutes later, we were already making plans to explore the city together. And so we did.

Discovering the Essence of a Place

After two days we knew each other like old friends. We also made other friends there and I just want to say that it was amazing to connect with like minded people. I felt free to be myself. No hiding, no faking. We were the same. We shared stories about places on Earth that made our heart beat faster. We told stories about the people we met on the road over time. We laughed. We mingled with locals and tried new food and drinks. We took long strolls on Budapest’s bridges, looking in the distance as the sunset embraced the calm waves of the Danube.

We climbed to the top of the Gellért Hill watched the city unfold in front of our eyes. We dreamed with our eyes open and shared our plans to take over the planet. Not with guns, but with our passports and love for the people.

A Transformative Experience

To be honest, before this experience, I have read lots of articles about solo travel. Most of them described wonderful experiences and were full of positive, encouraging, touching words for those who were scared to take the leap. Like me. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I didn’t believe that this type of experience can have a good outcome, but I didn’t think that someday this will be my story too. I thought this whole solo travel thing will be just an act of bravery and nothing more. I wanted so much to check it off my list and to prove myself that I can overcome my fears. Did I think that I would probably do it again after? Yes, but only because I think that finding people to travel with shouldn’t come in between me and the thing I’m most passionate about. Who knew that I could really enjoy getting out of my comfort zone and that I could get addicted to it? Somehow it happened though.

I discovered that the world is filled with kindred spirits waiting to connect, and solo travel was the key to unlocking those connections. So, I stand here now with a smile on my face, eagerly awaiting my next adventure, not with trepidation, but with anticipation. And you know what? If you’re in doubt about taking that first solo international trip, I encourage you to do the same. It’s worth every moment of uncertainty and fear for the extraordinary experiences that await.

In the following sections of this article, I’ll share insights and recommendations for fellow travelers looking to embark on their first solo international journey. Whether you’re worried about the language barrier or the idea of navigating an unfamiliar place on your own, I’ve got you covered with valuable tips and suggestions to make your solo adventure as thrilling and transformative as mine.

Pre-Trip Preparations

Before I left on my adventure, I took a few very important precautions to make sure my first solo trip abroad would be smooth and enjoyable. These preparations are vital for anyone considering their own solo adventure, and I’d like to share them with you.

1. Research and Planning

Visa Requirements: Whenever I go somewhere, I Google the visa requirements, even if I know them already. It doesn’t hurt to double check. For example, because I was moving between two members of the EU, it was obvious that I could travel without a visa and only with my ID, but I did a quick search anyway. Keep in mind that visa requirements can change based on your nationality and the destination country. Verify the entrance requirements as soon as possible. While many nations permit short-term visa-free travel, others may need a drawn-out visa application procedure. If you need a passport, make sure it is valid for the length of time you plan to be there.

📜 If you need a visa, you need to know how to craft your travel itinerary. Check this comprehensive guide to learn how to do it for a successful visa application.

Vaccinations and Health Precautions: Prioritizing one’s own health and safety is important. Based on the health guidelines for my destination, I looked up if I required any vaccinations for my vacation. If you’re in doubt, seek counsel from a travel clinic or healthcare provider. I also brought along a simple first-aid kit that contained band-aids, painkillers, and some other basic medications.

Packing Essentials: It takes skill to pack for a solo international trip. I created a list of necessities, which included things like travel adapters, durable walking shoes, seasonally appropriate clothing, and a high-quality backpack.

🎒 Back then, I was traveling exclusively with a backpack, so I learned some tricks to pack light in order to move around with ease.

2. Budgeting and Financial Considerations

Budgeting: Establishing a travel budget is paramount. This involves projecting how much plane tickets, hotel stays, food, entertainment, and unexpecting expenses will cost you. Making a budget in advance will help you avoid overspending and keep your finances under control.

💰 Related: How much to budget for a trip to Luxembourg City.

Currency Exchange: I exchanged some money ahead of time to avoid paying hefty exchange fees at the airport. Financial transactions were also made more convenient because I carried a travel-friendly credit card that didn’t impose fees for international purchases.

3. Communication Tools and Safety Measures

Local SIM Card or Roaming Plan: To stay connected while abroad, you can either purchase a local SIM card at your destination or activate an affordable international roaming plan with your home carrier. I chose the second option. Once I had Internet connection, I was able to access maps, communicate with locals and other travelers, and maintain communication with my family and friends back home.

Emergency Contact Information: I kept a list of important phone numbers, including local emergency services and my country’s embassy or consulate. Having this information readily accessible is crucial in case of unforeseen situations.

Travel Insurance: To be completely honest, when I was younger I didn’t invest in travel insurance because I was broke. If you’re going on your first solo international trip, don’t do as I did. Now I understand why it’s necessary and buy it for peace of mind. Ideally, the insurance should have lost luggage coverage, trip cancellation insurance, and medical protection. In an emergency, it serves as a safety net that could be a lifesaver.

Digital Copies of Documents: You can save your credit card details, passport, visa, and travel insurance information on a USB drive or in a secure cloud storage service by scanning and storing them. I would recommend saving them in cloud, because you can easily lose the USB or it can be stolen from you as well. In the event of theft or loss of documents, this backup will guarantee you that you have access to these records.

With careful thought and preparation for these essential aspects, my journey got off to a great start. I’ll go into more detail about my experience at the airport, accommodation options, and advice for traveling to a new place in the sections that follow. It’s all part of the thrilling adventure of solo travel, and with the right preparations, you can embark on your journey with confidence and excitement.

Navigating the Airport

When you’re traveling solo, arriving at an international airport may be both thrilling and a little nerve-wracking. I’ll go over the essential procedures and advice for a hassle-free airport experience in this section.

1. Tips for a Smooth Check-In Process

Online Check-In: Many airlines offer online check-in, allowing to print your boarding pass, or have it saved on your smartphone and even select your seat. This was always a convenient and time-saving solution for me, that shortened the wait time at the airport.

Arrive Early: It’s critical to be to the airport well in advance of your flight. In order to prepare for the security check and passport control, I tried to arrive two or three hours before my scheduled departure.

Carry-On Baggage: For single travelers, packing only carry-on items might make all the difference in the world. It speeds up the check-in procedure, minimizes the possibility of misplaced luggage, and facilitates better airport navigation.

2. Airport Security and Customs Procedures

Security Screening: Airport security procedures may involve taking off your shoes, belts, and emptying your pockets. Be ready for this. To facilitate the process, it’s a good idea to wear slip-on shoes and minimal or no metal accessories. Make sure you have easy access to your passport, boarding card, and any other necessary documents.

Limitations on Liquids: Remember that transporting liquids in containers larger than 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) is usually prohibited. You might need to put these in a quart-sized plastic bag that can be sealed. Learn in advance the exact policies and procedures of the airport from which you are departing.

Dealing with Layovers and Long Flights

Handling Layovers: If you have layover, take use of your time to see a new location or unwind in an airport lounge. Research the layover city and any airport amenities or activities prior to your travel. Stretch your legs, grab a bite to eat, and charge your electronics in this time.

Long Flights: Long international flights can be tiring, so it’s essential to stay comfortable. Wear layers to adjust to temperature fluctuations, drink plenty of water, and think about getting an eye mask and noise-canceling headphones to help you sleep during the flight.

⚠️ Tip: Personally, I don’t recommend for your first solo international travel to choose a destination that includes a layover or is very far to your home country. This can add unnecessary stress and can cause issues with lost luggage, missed connections, etc.

Entertainment: To keep yourself entertained during the flight, load up your devices with music, movies, and books. While some airlines offer in-flight entertainment, having alternatives guarantees you won’t get bored.

Remember that navigating the airport is part of the experience, and with a little planning, you can get through it easily. We’ll cover important topics like places to stay, getting to know your destination, and the priceless opportunity of interacting with other travelers in the parts that follow.

Accommodation Choices

Choosing the appropriate accommodation for your solo international travel is an important choice that can impact the whole experience. I’ll go over several lodging choices and offer advice in this section to assist you choose the right option for your travels.

1. Options for Solo Travelers

As a solo traveler, you have several accommodation choices to consider, each with its own advantages and drawbacks. Here are some of the options to explore:

Hostels: Because of their low prices, lively environment, and chances to meet other travelers, hostels are frequently the first choice of solo travelers. Dormitory-style rooms are a common feature of hostels and can be a great place to meet new people and exchange stories. For even more privacy, some hostels also offer private rooms. For my first solo experience, I chose a hostel as well and the experience was great as I made a lot of friends there.

Hotels: Hotels provide comfort, privacy, and a range of amenities, but they can be more costly than hostels. Seek for reasonably priced accommodations, like guesthouses or boutique hotels, to strike the ideal mix of comfort and cost.

Airbnb: You can have a more homely experience by renting a separate room or a full flat through Airbnb. This choice may be especially tempting if you would rather have an independent and more local stay.

Couchsurfing: Couchsurfing is a traveler network where members give free lodging in their homes. Although it can be less expensive and offer a unique cultural experience, staying with a local host may require a higher level of trust and flexibility.

2. Booking Strategies and Safety Considerations

Booking in Advance: If you’re going to be traveling during a popular season, it’s a good idea to reserve accommodation in advance. By doing this, you may compare alternatives and read reviews from past visitors, which can ease your worries and guarantee that you will have a place to stay when you arrive.

Safety: Safety should be your top priority while selecting your lodging. Examine reviews, look up the location’s safety ratings, and take into account features like well-lit common areas, 24-hour front offices, and safe lockers.

Hostels That Are Friendly to Solo Travelers: A lot of hostels offer secure and friendly spaces especially for those traveling alone. Look for hostels that have female-only dorms, if that’s your preference, or those that host events and group activities for guests to mingle.

The final decision regarding accommodation should be based on your preferences, budget, and style of travel. Think about what’s most essential to you while embarking on your solo adventure. Each choice has distinct perks.

In the upcoming sections, we’ll delve into the experiences and moments that make solo travel truly exceptional. Each phase of the journey contributes to personal development and lifelong memories, from exploring your destination to meeting people from around the world.

Choosing and Exploring the Destination

This section will give you some tips on how to choose the best destination for this experience and how to explore it once you get there.

1. Solo Travel-Friendly Destinations

It’s a good idea to take into account places that are well-suited for single travelers when picking a destination for your first solo international trip. These locations usually provide a good mix of affordability, safety, and socializing with other travelers. Some well-liked destinations by solo travelers are Bangkok, Budapest, Barcelona, Prague, and so on. These locations frequently include vibrant backpacker scenes and friendly environments for those traveling alone.

2. Language Barriers and Cultural Differences

When visiting a foreign country, language can be a big challenge, particularly if you don’t speak the language at all. In my own experience in Budapest, I quickly realized that relying solely on English wasn’t always sufficient. It’s helpful to familiarize yourself with a few basic phrases in the local language to show respect and courtesy. Furthermore, having a pocket dictionary and utilizing translation applications can be quite helpful.

Cultural differences are another thing to consider. It’s important to conduct some research and become familiar with the cultural norms and customs of the place you want to go to, because local practices could differ greatly. Respecting traditions and customs can enable you to establish beneficial relationships with people living there.

3. Navigating Public Transportation and Getting Around

Being able to navigate public transport on your own is crucial for effective solo travel because it’s often the lifeline of a city. The following advice will help you navigate public transport like a pro:

Research Transit Systems: Do a bit of research on the public transit options in your destination before you get there. To navigate the city efficiently, familiarize yourself with the schedules, routes, and ticket options.

Travel Cards and Passes: For a specific period of time, many cities offer travel cards or passes that grant unlimited access to public transit. For single travelers, this can be both convenient and reasonably priced.

Download Transportation Apps: Install the apps that are relevant to your travel destination. To make navigation easier, these applications frequently include real-time information about routes, schedules, and nearby stations.

Safety Considerations: Although public transport is generally safe, use caution and take standard precautions. Especially while traveling late at night, pay attention to your surroundings and make sure your possessions are secure.

Walking tours, hop-on-hop-off bus excursions, or renting a bicycle or scooter for a more independent trip are some options for seeing a destination’s attractions.

In the following section, we’ll delve into the joys of meeting people and forming connections as a solo traveler. These experiences are often the highlights of any solo international journey and contribute to personal growth and lifelong memories.

Meeting People and Making Friends

In the following section, we’ll delve into the joys of meeting people and forming connections as a solo traveler. These experiences are often the highlights of any solo international journey and contribute to personal growth and lifelong memories.

1. Solo Traveler Social Hubs and Events

Common Areas of Hostels: Hostels are renowned for their lively social environments. Meet other travelers by spending time in the common spaces, including the kitchens or lounges. Talk to people, tell stories, and take part in any social events or activities that the hostel organizes.

Cafes & Local Hangouts: Look for eateries that are well-liked by residents as well as tourists, such as bars and cafés. These locations frequently offer chances for unplanned conversations. Start a discussion with the person sitting next to you at the table or the friendly barista.

Social Apps: Download social apps designed for travelers. It’s simpler to meet people who share your interests when you use platforms like Meetup, Couchsurfing, and travel-related Facebook groups, which frequently feature events and meetings in your destination.

2. Tips for Meeting Locals and Fellow Travelers

Approach Locals with Respect: Show consideration for their traditions and culture when establishing a connection. Be genuinely curious to learn about their customs and way of life. This will create opportunities for deep conversations.

Join Tours and Group Activities: Getting to know other travelers who have similar interests to your own can be greatly facilitated by taking part in guided tours or group activities. These activities, which can include hiking, cooking classes, or walking tours, build connections.

Learn a Few Basic Phrases in the Local Language: As mentioned earlier, learning a few basic phrases in the local language can go a long way in endearing you to locals and fellow travelers. Saying “hi” or “thank you” in their language can break the ice and earn you smiles.

3. Staying Safe While Socializing

Use Your Instincts: When meeting new people, follow your gut feelings. It’s acceptable to gently leave a situation if something feels off or unpleasant. Prioritize your safety and well-being when traveling alone because it’s all about empowerment.

Share Your Plans: When making friends and heading out to explore the city together, share your plans with someone you trust, whether it’s a new friend, family member, or your accommodation’s front desk staff. Tell them where you are heading and when you expect to be back.

Public Places: Try to meet individuals at well-known events or in public spaces whenever you can. Compared to isolated or distant areas, public spaces are less dangerous and offer a certain amount of safety.

Connecting with people while traveling solo can be the most enriching aspect of your journey. The friendships you form, whether they last for a day or a lifetime, add depth and meaning to your travel experiences.


As we draw the curtains on my first solo international trip experience, I want to leave you with some parting thoughts and encouragement. This journey, from the initial decision to explore a distant land on my own to navigating airports, selecting accommodations, and meeting people from around the world, has been nothing short of transformative.

I embarked on this adventure with the belief that solo travel would be a mark of courage and little more. I expected to tick it off my list and prove to myself that I could overcome my fears. However, it became much more than that. It turned out to be an exploration of the self, a test of resilience, and an opportunity for profound personal growth.

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7 years ago

Solo trips are the best – I’m glad you took the leap and had such an awesome experience!

Life of a TravelBug
7 years ago

I am glad that you mentioned the first part of being lost and confused! The best part of solo travel is overcoming this feeling and having an amazing trip! I am glad you had a good time and I wish you many more exciting solo travels!

7 years ago

Awww. I had my first solo travel in thailand. I had my share of ups and downs. But im so glad i did it. I loved it ever since. Cheers to more solo traveling on your way!

7 years ago

Hi Elena! I lol when read you know that poem for bad word. hahaha…funny.Glad you break your fear. Solo just need the first move and you will fly all the way.

One and Half backpacks

I am so happy for you that you decided to do it on your own. I always find it hard to find some one to travel with, so it should not stop you to explore the world, I hope there is many more trips and adventures for you in a future :)

7 years ago

Very inspiring :) Glad you took the plunge and had fun!

Alexandra A
7 years ago

I always wanted to experience a travel solo experience. To feel that I’m not depending anyone or anything! Good for you!

7 years ago

I still dont get completely comfortable traveling alone! Well done girl!

7 years ago

Im glad you were able to step out of your comfort zone and see the world solo! Good for you girl!

7 years ago

So glad you had a great experience! I agree that travel should not be dependent on who you can talk into going with you.

Hang Around The World
7 years ago

This is an amazing experience, thank you for sharing this! I usually travel with my family or my friends but I’d like to do the same. Inspired! – Amalia

7 years ago

Traveling solo to foreign countries requires expertise in playing charades. Also, it helps to learn at least a few phrases in the local language–I always learn to say “hello,” “thank you,” and “beer.” Sometimes I learn to say, “Do you speak English?”

7 years ago

Now that you’ve done your first solo international trip, I’m sure that you will be hungry for more