TRAVELLING SOLO TIPS
Believe that the world is made up of mostly good people. Travelling solo tips from me a real life solo traveller.
People often think that they need to be with others in order to travel. Maybe they feel safer or think that they won’t have a good time alone. Whatever the case maybe, there’s a stigma when travelling solo. Often telling your friends and family can solicit disapproval as they don’t believe that travelling solo is safe and they don’t want to constantly worry about you while away.
The simple fact is that travelling solo is liberating and can be the experience of a lifetime! Travelling is one of the greatest things you can do and you should never let the fact that you don’t have a travel buddy stop you from following your hearts desires. Sure I’ll be the first one to admit it was scary at first, but once you do it for the first time you’ll feel like an entirely new person. On my first solo trip, I remember holding onto the handle of my luggage and making strides across the floor of the airport, feeling independent and carefree. While I love the companionship of my friends and loved ones there is something exhilarating about travelling solo. While I was definitely nervous, I found that after a day in a new city I had already met enough friends to last me a lifetime!
I think everyone should try travelling alone at least once in their life and here are some travelling solo tips to get you started.
BE COMFORTABLE WITH YOURSELF
Travelling solo is not for the weak of heart. You really have to be comfortable with yourself because you don’t have anyone else to rely on except yourself. You have to be at ease with being alone and not worry all the time about how this will look.
I was in my early 20s when I first decided to go it alone and at the time I was used to being surrounded by friends 24×7. I soon realised it’s actually not that bad! In two short days I had met a group of travellers who I still keep in touch with to this day. I have to be honest, had I not been on my own I probably wouldn’t have stopped to meet new people.
The biggest concern for solo travellers is safety and this is especially true for female travellers. You should always take certain precautions when you travel regardless if you are alone or with someone else, but when you’re travelling solo, safety should always be your number one priority. Some useful things to consider when it comes to safety are:
1. Check websites for safety information on the country or city you are travelling to. I found Smart Traveller or Smart Travelers very helpful for me. Both provide the latest safety and security information for your destination country which can help you make an informed decision around the safety of that destination.
2. Know your travel route. I always keep my data roaming on when I’m travelling so that I can track my route from airports to hotels or when I’m on public transport. If you are concerned about data roaming charges be sure to check this out before leaving home or get a roaming sim card at the airport.
3. Hotels and Airbnb are great for travelling alone. I found the extra security of a hotel to be very comforting because of the security of the front desk. I have only run into one situation in my years of travelling where I felt unsafe. This was many years ago in a mixed dorm in Germany run by an elderly couple. Unfortunately the others sharing the dorm were a group of rowdy and drunk men. While nothing happened I felt unsafe and scared at the time. From that point onwards I choose to stay at either bed and breakfasts, 1-2 star hotels or female only dorms.
4. The biggest thing when travelling alone is trusting your instinct. If something feels off about a place or a person, then follow your intuition and get out of that situation fast. Your gut is feeling is always right!
5. When you go out at night, stay in public places and don’t use shortcuts. Stay on main roads and busy streets.
6. Try to avoid looking like a tourist. Ever see those tourists walking down the street with a big “I Love X City tee”?? Well that screams tourist! So does a map and expensive cameras hanging from your shoulder. This doesn’t mean you can’t take your items with you, just don’t keep them on display. I carry a big SLR camera in a casual shoulder bag and use my iphone maps instead.
7. You’ll want to get your bearings and understand where you are in relation to a point of interest such as your hotel. It’s nice to wander, but if you get lost in a back street, it’s good to know how far you are and how to get back to where you need to be. I tend to use big landmarks such as churches or large buildings.
8. Leave a copy of your itinerary with a friend or family member. You can thank my mum for this advice, but it’s reassuring to know that someone you love knows where you are if anything were to go wrong. I personally use the TripIt app as I’m able to organise my travel through the app and share with anyone I choose.
9. Make sure that you carry enough money to cover you in the case of an emergency. Even if you have travel insurance (which I highly recommend you do), it’s not paid out until after you put in a claim. For this reason make sure you have enough cash on hand.
10. Finally, ask for help if you feel threatened. I was in France once when a group of guys pulled over in their car. Instinctively, I started searching for other women nearby and asked for help. A group of girls quickly ran over and told the men to beat it’s in French.
MAKE LOCAL FRIENDS
Believe that the world is made up of mostly good people. There is no other way around this. As a child, my parents taught me to never trust strangers no matter what happens. But if you think about it, when you are travelling alone, you cannot expect your friends or neighbours to fly over to help you. I have manyÂ locals who gave me a helping hand when I needed it most. That said, take reasonable precautions at all times.
The friends I have met through my travels have helped me a great deal. They gave me great advice on things to look out for in their city, how to act like a local and how to avoid being scammed. Most importantly they introduced me to experiences that made my holidays truly unforgettable. Making friends with locals will introduce you to the local way of life. They’ll show places that I guarantee you won’t find listed on TripAdvisor because most of the reviews are written by other tourists like you and me.
WHERE TO STAY
Airbnb is quickly becoming the top choice for many whilst on vacation. Not only is it cheaper than a hotel, but it’s also very convenient given many have their own kitchens, allowing you to save money on food. This is a great option when you’re travelling alone and want to save some cash. But nothing beats the amenities of a hotel. Both are actually great for travelling on your own and it’s really a personal preference and can depends on your budget. Many travelling alone like hotels because of the extra security it offers them.
As for hostels, it depends on the culture of the hostel. I steer away from party hostels because it’s not my cup of tea. I’ve had mixed experiences with hostels as I’ve already mentioned but overall it’s been positive. The main takeaway is that if you are going to backpack then avoid large dorms or mixed dorms and ensure the hostel is in a central location.
I love to party while on vacation! What can I say, I’m still young and like to have a good time! But, when I travel alone, I always stay safe- back to rule number one. I in my early 30’s so I’m fully aware of my drinking threshold. Usually after one or two glasses (depending if it’s beer or hard liquor), I’ll usually pretend that I can’t drink anymore when I am in the company of people I’ve just met. This gives me a buffer if they insist on making me drink more than I want. At the same time, it helps me maintain my clarity of mind if anything should happen.
The other thing to watch out for is drink spiking. I’ve had my drink spiked before and thankfully, I was in the company of my friends before I blacked out. It’s not pleasant so trust me when I say watch your drink! Don’t leave your drink unattended and don’t let others buy your drink for you- if you do watch then watch them at all times.
IS THE COUNTRY WELCOMING?
When you finally decide to travel alone, it’s important to not only follow some of these travelling solo tips but to also choose the right destination. Choose a country that makes others feel welcome so that it’s easier to meet people. Also take into consideration your ability to interact with locals. As an English speaker I preferred to travel to other countries where I either know some of the basics of their language or they speak English. It just made it that much easier to converse with strangers.
Unfortunately, I’m not going to recommend hitchhiking on your own as part of my guide. While I’m sure many travellers have positive experiences , it’s not something I would do or recommend to others. I think there are many other cheap forms of transportation like trains and buses that ensure your safety comes first.
If you’re reading this and considering taking that first step to travelling solo then I hope this guide has helped. I’ve had some of the best experiences of my life travelling solo and I wouldn’t take them back for the world.
Hope you enjoyed our travelling solo tips. Until next time.