Whether you haven’t found the perfect travel companion yet or you would just prefer to go it alone, solo travel is a great experience. Many people find that they get more out of traveling when they brave it alone rather than with friends.
If solo travel is the option for you, here is some helpful advice…
Packing smart of course involves what you pack before you go, but also how you pack when you arrive.
Before you set off, think of all the things you may need to bring. The essentials like a toothbrush, underwear, electronics and most importantly, your passport!
However, you should also think about what activities you’re likely to be doing. You must have suitable footwear that can use in multiple situations. Perhaps buy specific traveling clothes that are light, comfortable and durable.
So, let’s talk about how to pack your bag once you have arrived at your destination. Firstly, always have some kind of identification on you.
If you’re not comfortable taking your passport or license everywhere, it is a good idea to photocopy them before setting them off. That way you can take the paper copies out with you instead, and leave your ID somewhere safe at your accommodation.
Secondly, make sure all pockets and openings are secure so that nobody can steal anything without you noticing. It is also a good idea to divide money into more than one compartment so that if anything happens you have some back-up cash.
Do Some Homework
It can be tempting to go out on a whim and dive right into your destination. This approach may work for some people; however, others may need more reassurance. It is always advisable to do a bit of background research about the place you are visiting.
Take public transport as an example. Understanding how transport works in that particular area and where it will take you is key to not getting lost.
On a lighter note, find interesting places to go! Write a list of all the things you want to see in that area and make it a goal to tick them off.
Play to Your Strengths
Solo travel isn’t reserved for one particular kind of person. It may be easy to relate solo travel to extroverts who ooze confidence, but that’s not strictly true.
Just because big crowds and buzzing groups of people aren’t your natural habitat, that doesn’t mean you’re not suitable to travel alone.
It just simply means you should travel in a way that’s more comfortable for you. For example, if you are not an extrovert, find an inexpensive single occupancy hotel room rather than a hostel.
However, the benefits of hostels are learning from fellow travelers and meeting people along the way. They may even clue you into fun stuff to do you didn’t know about…But, hostels are not the only way of meeting people when you’re abroad. Social media or meetup groups are all great options.
Learn the Local Language
Not only will it be helpful for you to have some knowledge of the local language, but it is also polite. People generally will be very grateful that you’ve made an effort to communicate with them in their native language, and in return be more willing to help you.
Now, this doesn’t mean you need to be fluent; especially if you’re traveling to many different countries. Just simple things like asking for directions, ordering food or saying please and thank you can go a long way.
None of the best parts of travel happen inside your hotel room! Sure, it’s okay to have some time to relax where you bury your head in a book or call home. However, it’s outside where all the magic happens. Don’t spend all your time sleeping when you’re traveling. Get up early, go and out and discover what the world around you has to offer.
You may never be in that exact place again, so you should look at everything as a once in a lifetime opportunity. That way, you will gain the most out of your experience.
In some ways, solo travel is as safe as you make it. To start, know where you are going and be prepared. And try acting confident so that you don’t seem like a target.
Here are some additional tips for safe solo travel:
- Don’t have any valuables on display
- Don’t accept drinks from strangers and NEVER leave your drink unattended
- Travel during daylight whenever possible, or travel with other people after dark
- Walk away – if you’re feeling threatened, remove yourself as quickly as possible
- Stick to public areas/lit up areas
- Keep your friends and family updated about where you are
- If you’re taking a taxi, ALWAYS make sure it’s registered to that city
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, immerse yourself. Be open. Try new things. Traveling is a lot more enjoyable if you let go of all the comforts of home.
You will be introduced to foods you’ve never tried before and you will be surrounded by cultures completely different from your own… embrace them all! Sometimes you may be in conditions that you are not used to… accept them!
Traveling isn’t always a home away from home. Traveling is a way to jostle your perspective on life!.
Image by Andrew Neel