I traveled to Brussels for my first solo trip. I cried at the airport before I got on the my flight. I was so nervous. I had never been to Europe. I barely speak French and speak absolutely no Flemish. I loved Brussels. It is still one of my favorite cities in the world. My trip was short, but I did pick up a few tips for traveling solo. Although some things remain the same, these are my tips for traveling alone for the first time.
1. Plan 2 or 3 important details ahead of time
In general, I don't like to plan too much ahead when traveling. I like to do some research so I know what my options are. Some days you'll be too tired to move, and it's important to give yourself that space. On my first solo trip, I planned 2 things. First, I booked a car to pick me up at the airport and take me to my hotel. Being in an unfamiliar city, arriving later in the day, I just wanted to make sure that I would be safe traveling from one place to the next. The rest of my time in Brussels, I walked most places, took taxis, ubers, and trains. All very convenient options.
The second thing I planned was a pre-booked half day tour of Brussels. I was there for a very limited time, and I wanted to be sure I saw as much as I could. During the tour, I scoped out areas that I wanted to pursue on my own. I might not have seen some of these places otherwise.
2. Make sure you are not the only one with your itinerary
Since you'll be alone in another state/country, make sure someone at home knows where you are and where you'll be. I do this with all of my trips. I create a one page sheet with flight numbers, airline contact info, hotel info, US embassy info for the city I'm in. I also include a photo of my passport on that one-pager. I carry a copy of this with me and leave one at home with a relative. All of this has come in handy for me at some point.
3. Blend in
When traveling solo, you don't want to stand out. It's important to blend in with locals so that pickpockets, robbers, etc. don't target you. Resist the urge to take selfies on every block.
4. Pay attention to your surroundings
This goes along with number 3. This is always important, especially when traveling solo. I recently had an experience where I thought I was paying attention until someone came up to me and said he had been watching me for about 10 minutes before he decided to approach me and ask for money. I couldn't believe that I was so oblivious that someone was watching me for 10 minutes and I had no clue. So please, be cautious, watch your surroundings, and pay attention!
5. Enjoy yourself
Now that you've taken the first step to traveling solo, make the most of your trip! When you're traveling by yourself, you don't have to ask anyone else what they want to do. Your trip and your experiences are shaped by you. Make the most of your time, and get to know yourself. I want you to do this again. There is so much to do and experience. Love yourself through travel.