5 Great Tips for the Solo Traveler
Travelling can be educational, enlightening, and fun – doing it alone can be one of the most liberating things you can do in your life. However, traveling alone should be well planned and researched so that your adventure goes to plan, and you are protected from potential hazards. Here are 5 great tips for the solo traveler
Before you go on any adventure, you should make a plan of action. Decide where you want to go, for how long and how much it will cost.
Once you know what your budget is, you can decide which places you wish to visit. Do you want to stay in your own country, or do you want to travel overseas? Would you like a week in the sun, a few months backpacking around the world, or a weekend city break? If you want to have a structured, organized adventure, you may want to consider a cruise where every excursion is pre-arranged and all you have to do is wander on and off a ship. Whatever you decide, the first thing you need to do is find accommodation and transport.
Look for accommodation that welcomes single guests and does not charge single-person fees. Ensure that the place is in a safe area and perhaps request a room that is on the ground floor or at least near an elevator so that you are not walking alone down long-deserted corridors. Sometimes bed and breakfasts or Air BnBs are friendlier than large hotels, and you might feel a bit safer and more at home in such accommodation.
Book flights or other forms of transport that will arrive at your destination during daylight hours, so you are not trying to find your lodgings in the middle of the night and unfamiliar territory. Try to travel with large groups of people rather than taking a taxi cab alone. After a flight, pre-arrange transport to take you from the airport to your hotel so that you are not stranded in an airport for hours on end waiting for a ride.
Arrange some travel insurance before you go that will cover you for any medical emergencies or other unforeseen circumstances that may occur.
Safety is paramount when you are traveling alone, and especially if you are female. When in foreign lands, you don’t always know one district from the next and might find yourself in less salubrious areas. Before you travel, it might be beneficial to attend self-defense classes or even carry a personal protection device such as pepper gel or an electronic personal alarm, so you are better prepared should the worst happen.
When exploring new surroundings, be smart and stick to well-lit areas at night or have an extra early start in the mornings, eat your main meal at lunchtime and then retire to your bed early and do not venture out at night at all. If you really want to go out at nighttime, try not to get intoxicated with drugs and liquor, stick to bars and restaurants in busy areas and trust your gut instinct if you sense something or someone isn’t ‘right.’
Before you leave, give friends and family a copy of your itinerary as well as the contact details of all the places you are staying. Be sure to regularly check in with loved ones either by phone, email, or online social platforms.
Always have plenty of extra money for emergencies. Buy some of the local currency as well as some travelers cheques and a credit or debit card. Carry your cash in a money belt that you can conceal beneath your clothing. Store valuable belongings in a safe if you can, or lock them in your suitcase when you are away from your accommodation.
Pack some emergency first aid supplies in your suitcase and a range of clothes for all types of weather and eventualities. Bring enough of your own toiletries to last you as long as possible because you might not be able to get the same brands in your destination, and if you have sensitive skin, a substitute foreign cream may be a disaster. Remember to pack any medications you are currently taking or may need in an emergency.
Do not overpack and bring lots of heavy clothes and shoes as you will struggle to carry all of your luggage and will have nobody to assist you.
Try not to look like a tourist when you are in a foreign country, or you may get singled out by muggers and low life. Try to blend in with the locals by dressing in a similar manner, and if you are a woman, do not flash indecent amounts of flesh. Check the destination’s beliefs and customs before you go to see if you are required to dress or act a certain way when out in public.
Before your trip you could learn the local language, which will help you blend in and understand signs, menus, locals and television better, making your travels easier and probably more enjoyable. Try chatting to staff in your hotel or cafes as they may give you advice on good places to visit and places to avoid.
Ok, so you have to be more safety-conscious when you are traveling alone than if you had a companion, but don’t let that put you off having the adventure of a lifetime. When you travel alone, the world is your oyster. You don’t have to answer to anybody else, and you can go where you want when you want. You can skydive one day and laze on the beach the next without having to pander to another person’s demands. Remember to document your travels well for the future enjoyment of you and your grandkids. You may want to keep a written diary, start an online blog about your travels or just post plenty of photographs on social media sites – just remember to pack a selfie stick!