Travelling Solo For The First Time? This Step-by-Step Guide Is For You

Travelling solo can be a transformative adventure that allows you to explore the world on your terms. However, just like travelling with friends and family, it comes with its own set of rewards and challenges. In this article, we’ll delve into the world of solo travel, exploring how you can plan your trip (with the help of AI!) to make your solo journeys safer and more enjoyable.

Perks and Risks of Solo Travel

Solo travel opens many doors to self-discovery, independence, and gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace. Without a companion, you’re free to plan your trip however you wish — do as much or as little as you want! Being alone in a foreign place also encourages personal growth, cultural immersion, and creates a prime opportunity to make new friends from around the world.

However, solo travel is not without its challenges. Safety concerns, loneliness, and navigating the logistics can be intimidating, especially if you’re a first-time solo traveller. Here’s where useful AI tools like ChatGPT can step in to help with your planning – find out in our guide below!

Step-by-Step Guide for Solo Travel

1. Set a Budget

Before planning your trip, it’s essential to establish a budget. Some expenses you need to consider are transportation, accommodation, food, and tickets for tourist attractions. It would also be wise to set aside a safety net for emergencies. You should ideally arrive at a budget that you’re comfortable with forking out for your trip.

One thing to remember is that when you’re travelling alone, you don’t have someone else to share expenses for items like accommodation or car rental.

You might want to consider downloading AI-powered budgeting apps, like TripCoin and Trabee Pocket, which can assist you in tracking your expenses and ensuring you stay within your travel budget later on while you’re travelling.

Read more: The Ultimate List of Travel Hacks for the Budget-Conscious Traveller

2. Choose a Destination

Now that you’ve set your budget, it’s time to pick the right destination that aligns with how much you want to spend. Southeast Asia, given its proximity to Singapore and comparatively lower cost of living, is a great option if you’re on a smaller budget. Meanwhile, areas such as North America and Western Europe will require costlier long haul flights, and are also known for a higher cost of living.

Apart from selecting a destination that fits your budget, you should also consider your personal risk appetite, and the kind of activities you might want to do while you’re there. Desktop research should serve you well, as there are travel blogs and even #traveltok videos that can provide insights into trending destinations and unique activities to do.

3. Create an Itinerary – with ChatGPT!

One of the most exciting parts of travel is planning your itinerary. If you need some help, ChatGPT is a handy generative AI app that can assist you in creating a well-structured itinerary that includes must-visit attractions, local events, and off-the-beaten-path gems. Here are a few ways ChatGPT can help:

Use it to generate a personalised itinerary based on your interests, timeline, and budget.
Ask for restaurant recommendations and tips for exploring like a local.
Get advice on the best times to visit popular attractions to avoid crowds.

We asked ChatGPT to help with a short day trip to Malacca, and here’s what it came up with:

While you’re at it, try your hand at creating multiple itineraries filled with different types of activities, including those that are off-the-beaten path. After that, you can mix and match ChatGPT’s recommended activities to get a one-of-a-kind itinerary tailored for you.

4. Book Your Flight Tickets and Accommodation

Travel websites and apps such as Skyscanner, Agoda and Expedia can help you find the best deals on flights and accommodations. For spontaneous travellers, the AI-powered travel website GetMe.Flights, can help you with looking for cheap flights that let you scratch your travel itch without having to fork out exorbitant prices for last minute tickets.

Bonus tip: Travelling off-peak and/or booking your flights and accommodation more than three to four months in advance will save you a great deal! If you love a good bargain, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for any ad-hoc airline promotions for even better deals.

Another consideration is the type of accommodation you’d like to stay in for the duration of the trip. Hostels with shared facilities will probably be the most affordable, while hotels and cabins will cost more. These accommodation types also come with different levels of comfort and convenience. It’s wise to think about what sort of facilities you’d need before selecting a place to stay. For instance, if you need privacy and security, getting a private room would be better than a bunk bed in a hostel.

5. Pre-Departure Preparations

It’s essential to make sure that you’re fully prepared before setting off on your solo adventure. Here are a few critical tasks to complete:

Check the validity of your passport
According to Singapore’s Immigration & Checkpoints Authority, your passport should be valid for at least six months from the duration of your departure. Travelling with a soon-to-be-expired passport can lead to delays at immigration control.

Apply for visas
While Singapore has a powerful passport, Singapore citizens still require visas for entry into certain countries. Make sure you do your research beforehand and apply for a visa as early as possible so that your application can be approved in time.

Health preparations

Visit your local GP for any required and/or recommended vaccinations, which can vary depending on your destination. Read up on health precautions and tips on staying healthy during your trip.

Buy travel insurance
We’ve all heard of Murphy’s Law. While we can plan meticulously, some things are beyond our control. Some common hiccups that travel insurance can help to cover include flight delays, lost baggage and falling ill overseas. Check out our travel insurance guide to help you pick a policy that suits your needs and grants you a peace of mind.

Register your overseas trip with eRegister (for Singapore citizens)
eRegister is a voluntary and free service by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is helpful for Singapore citizens travelling overseas. It allows the Ministry to contact you to ensure your safety in the face of an emergency, such as civil unrest or natural disasters.

Currency exchange and packing
While multi-currency accounts are extremely useful for travelling, there are many cities and countries that have not embraced cashless payments as much as Singapore. Make sure you have cash on hand in case you dine or shop at a cash-only establishment.

If you’re not sure what to pack, ChatGPT can offer advice on creating a packing list based on your destination and the time of year that you’re travelling. These are just some of the items ChatGPT advised us to pack on our Malacca trip:

6. Be Open to New Experiences While Staying Vigilant

To unlock the rewards of solo travelling, one should maintain a healthy level of curiosity towards the unknown. Take a step out of your comfort zone to interact with locals, and be flexible with your plans.

At the same time, it’s important to stay vigilant. Be aware of your surroundings and look out for your physical safety. Ultimately, solo travel is not just about exploring new destinations; it’s also an exploration of yourself in a safe and fulfilling way.

In conclusion, solo travel, when approached with the right tools and mindset, can be an enriching and life-changing experience. Leveraging AI for planning and navigating your journey can make it more convenient and enjoyable, but always remember that it is the experiences and connections you make along the way that makes travelling special. So, pack your bags and embrace the adventure that awaits!

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