Top Tips for Travelling Alone
Every time the travel bug hits us, we immediately start dreaming about the wildest of itineraries and where in the world to venture, and I am sure you do as well. Unfortunately, even if you find the money and the time to travel, it is a lot easier than finding someone equally as passionate to travel with you. Let’s face it, sometimes we all end up travelling alone, which can actually be quite fun and an amazing experience in the end.
So spin that globe and plan an amazing trip anywhere your heart can dream up, and if you end up travelling solo, here are our tips for travelling alone.
Plan in Advance
If you are a lady travelling solo, you might want to plan a little differently than you would on a trip with friends, family or that special someone. Read up on the places you are travelling to and see if other female travelers have written about them. Some woman feel more than comfortable travelling alone and playing it all by ear, but understandably, some prefer to know exactly what they are getting into, where they will stay and what the people and culture will be like before they arrive. Suit yourself, but always know your surroundings well and where to travel to if you need to. Other travel blogs and forums can be an invaluable place to not only gain much needed information but also to link up with fellow solo travelers, much as you would in a hostel environment but without the dirty socks and granola bars.
Staying connected on the road is important to almost every traveller, but especially if you will be travelling along. Family and friends always want to know where you are, and while it might only be a tweet or facebook status, everyone will be curious to see what you are up to (and most likely jealous too!). Carry a smartphone if you can as they have plenty of free calling apps like Skype, Gtalk, Viber that you can make use of if need be. If you don’t want to spend a ton and travel low profile, go for a local calling card on arrival or switch to an international texting plan instead. This saves time and money and you are still connected, and most local sim cards can be purchased for very little, and minutes or data are cheap and can usually be used in neighboring countries if you are somewhere like Europe.
Whatsapp is our favorite chatting app, it keeps us connected to family and friends all over the world, its the best!
Pack as light as you can so that you don’t have to lug around your entire closet, and while you might be used to having help with your bags when you travel in a group, solo travel requires a lot of heavy lifting, so pack light and test out all your gear before heading off to the airport! Also, ensure that you try to travel in the day time as much as you can if it makes you feel more comfortable, but at least arrange for entry and exit times during the day to make your mother sleep at night.
Try and connect with fellow backpackers and co-travelers to get an insight into the culture and the lives of the people you are visiting. Maintain a travel journal with your exciting experiences as these small mentions will find meaning many months and years later. This will also motivate you to observe. Look around and absorb as much as you can as this is going to be one of the most intense and meaningful experiences of your life. Learn as much as you can about new surroundings and changing cultures as this will be a cherished experience for you down the line, trust us. And of course take pictures, even with only a smartphone or disposable camera. (Wait, do they even make those anymore?)
Enjoy Being Alone
Learn to enjoy your own company as this is the key to travelling alone. Go out on organized tours or try and meet people over dinner at local restaurants ortourist spots. Make local contacts at youth hostels which are often also the best places to stay for solo travelers as you will meet like-minded people there. However, don’t be scared to have meals alone either. Write that journal of experiences or read a local magazine or a newspaper to really try and understand where you are. Get to know more about food habits and ways of cooking in the foreign land as well. Taking a Thai cooking class was an amazing way for us to first get introduced to Thai food when we moved to Phuket.
Last but not the least, take the necessary precautions and keep the essentials on you at all times. Read up on travel blogs or go through Lonely Planet guides to get a feel of the place before you set your foot on an unknown soil. Take advice on forums if need be. Carry cash and travelers cheques or cards as a backup option and always have an emergency local contact, be it your country’s embassy or a friend you know and always let someone know where you are, even if only on social media. This will make you feel safe and less alone, and you can always pour over your writing and images from your trip to remind you what you eyes saw and what you have been feeling. You will be amazed to figure out how your vision changed with just one trip on a land and amongst people completely unknown to you, so go out there and travel like you mean it!
Photographs provided via Flickr from Sunova Surfboards, Trey Ratcliff, Lordcolus, Al_HikesAZand Jo Christian Oterhals
.H . Jeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at email@example.com and they’ll respond super fast!