How to Create the Perfect Travel Itinerary for a Solo Trip

Find freedom and adventure with the perfectly planned solo getaway
Find freedom and adventure with the perfectly planned solo getaway | © lncreative Media / Getty Images
Photo of Amy Baker
9 September 2021

Travelling alone requires a lot of forward planning and a strong sense of self. From prioritising must-do activities to avoiding hurricane season, these are Culture Trip’s top tips for crafting your next solo adventure.

You don’t need to travel with a friend or partner to have an unforgettable adventure. However, before you book your flight, it’s important to give a little thought to your itinerary to make the most of your time away. Whether you prefer to wing it or plan everything to the tee, here’s our guide to help you create the perfect solo travel itinerary.

If you’d prefer to ditch the prep and join a small-group getaway instead, check out TRIPS by Culture Trip and discover some of the world’s great destinations led by a Local Insider.

Choose a destination that speaks to you

You’ll likely have a long list of countries you want to visit. Sadly, it’s rare to tick them all off in one trip. Instead, prioritise a destination that fits your time frame and budget, while still offering the things you want to experience. It should also be a place you feel comfortable travelling alone.

Create a wish list

Travelling alone means you call the shots. Consider what you hope to get from your trip and cross-reference with what the country offers. For example, a wildlife encounter might be high on your list – if so, do you want to snorkel with turtles in Bali or spot leopards in Sri Lanka? Use this as a structure for your itinerary. It’ll help you work out time frames and where to go first.

You call the shots, so figure out what activities are high on your wish list | © BlueOrangeStudio / Alamy Stock Photo

Research transport options and travel times

If you’re not great with bus timetables, get a head start at home and work out your transport from the comfort of your sofa. Not only will this allow you to budget effectively, but it’ll also mean you reach your destination in time for that PADI scuba diving course or an unmissable local festival.

On top of this, you’ll have the time to figure out whether you’d feel comfortable squeezing onto a crowded bus alone – or would prefer a slightly more luxurious train ticket.

Book in your priorities

While it’s nice to go where the wind blows you, booking some activities in advance is essential. Perhaps visiting Chichen Itza at sunrise or snowmobiling in Iceland is why you booked the trip in the first place? Set your priorities because, chances are, these activities are also on the top of other travellers’ lists, too.

Book that snowmobile excursion in Iceland before other travellers get there first | © fStop Images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Seek advice from the experts

Surprises are all part of the magic of travelling. However, it’s a good idea to seek inside knowledge about your destination before you go. Ask people whose opinion you trust – or get up-to-date advice from the experts at Culture Trip.

And if there’s specific information you require, speak to the people who know best. Want safety advice for female travellers? Consult fellow solo female travellers who know your chosen destination inside out.

Consider the best times to visit

Every country has its own weather patterns and seasonal quirks. Research the best time of year to visit and schedule your trip accordingly.

For example, if you’re only travelling to Peru to walk the Inca Trail, it’s important to know that it’s closed throughout February. Similarly, if you want an Indian beach holiday, it’s best not to visit during monsoon season.

Planning a beach break in Goa? You’ll probably want to avoid monsoon season | © Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo

Consider safety

When travelling solo, it’s important to factor safety advice into your itinerary. If there are no-go areas, knowing about them in advance allows you to plan your journey around them. It’s normal to feel nervous about travelling to a new destination – arrive during daylight hours or book a place to stay in advance to ease that worry.

Plan your accommodation

Accommodation can make or break your trip, so factor that into your itinerary. The most highly rated hostels, Airbnbs and hotels can book up weeks in advance. If you know places to stay are limited – or you’re only going to be in town on a certain date – reserve a room in advance. It simply means one less job to do on the road.

The best places to stay are often booked up weeks in advance | © Andreas von Einsiedel / Alamy Stock Photo

Check the Covid-19 status of destinations

Travelling in the wake of Covid-19 means planning is crucial. With flights limited and conditions placed on entry, there’s a lot to factor in before you can kick back by that hotel pool with a mojito.

When compiling your itinerary, check the Covid-19 status of every destination. In the past, multi-stop flights were a cheap way to zip across the world. However, quarantine restrictions may mean a direct flight is a more practical solution. Be sure to check before you go.

Leave room for a little spontaneity

While it can be tempting to compile an action-packed itinerary – particularly if you love planning – it’s important to allow for spur-of-the-moment decisions. Often the best adventures happen when you have the flexibility to stay an extra couple of days or veer off the beaten track with a bunch of new mates.

Remember that travelling is all about freedom – the best itineraries allow time for unexpected delights.

Travelling is all about freedom – allow for a little unscripted adventure | © Sheryl Watson / Alamy Stock Photo

If you’d rather leave the planning to the experts, check out TRIPS by Culture Trip, our collection of small-group trips curated by experts and led by Local Insiders.

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