So you’re looking into a solo journey to that destination you love so much? That’s absolutely fantastic. But before you leave, let’s go over some tips that will make your journey even better. These pretty much apply to every destination and suit both male and female solo travellers.
Don’t pack as if you’re moving permanently
You can absolutely do that, I’m living in another country right now, but if it’s a holiday then you won’t need half the things you’re thinking of now.
So my advice is: make a list of the things that are absolutely necessary and then add a maximum of 10 items that are considered “luxury”.
Chances are you’ll be buying new stuff at your destination anyway, so it’s never a bad idea to leave some room for that.
If you’re having trouble closing your case, you’re overpacking. If you plan on staying for three weeks, a month or longer, you should probably take two travel cases or buy your stuff locally.
Don’t cram your luggage with bottles of shampoo or deodorants when that can be bought on arrival. This will allow you to stuff more clothes or leave space for souvenirs.
The lighter you travel, the easier it will be physically as well. You don’t want to lug around a metric ton of luggage, right? Nobody’s there to carry it, except yourself.
Try to get tickets for tourist attractions before you go there
Nobody likes waiting in line or finding out that the museum is closed today. Be well informed and try to book as many things as you can in advance.
This will allow you to plan your visits more effectively, as you won’t have to calculate waiting times into your itinerary. Often, tickets that are booked in advance come with a small discount.
You can do this from the comfort of your home/hotel, or visit a local tourist information centre.
There’s also a possibility of booking combo-tickets. Most cities want you to visit everything they have on offer and will combine transportation with entrance tickets at discount rates.
Make sure your important documents are safe
Store them in a secure safe in your hotel room.
Make digital copies of everything and mail them to yourself and others.
Make extra copies of official documents.
Losing your ID, passport or vouchers can really mean absolute disaster! If there’s no safe or you’re backpacking, then make sure they are stored in the most secure location you can find.
Making digital copies and sharing them is the more modern way of making sure that you’re on the safe side.
You can access these files from any hotel desk or internet café (yes those things still exist). In the worst-case scenario, you can even get them at a police station.
Download Google Maps and plan before leaving
When I say download, I do mean download. You want the map of your location to be accessible without mobile data or wi-fi.
Some countries have terrible reception and being lost isn’t always the most fun thing to do. If there’s a language barrier or you just don’t remember the name of your destination, no local will be able to help you.
Also, don’t leave your hotel or lodge and then figure out the route to your destination. Take some time to plan the best route.
Knowing where you’re going and especially how to get there will ease your mind and let you soak in the beautiful scenery around you.
However, if you’re the adventurous type, you can also start walking randomly and see where it brings you. Even in this case, you should keep an offline version of Google Maps on hand. You never know…
Be open, smile and enjoy the culture
This should be pretty easy, really. You’re on holiday so you should be smiling and enjoying the experience.
When you’re travelling alone, it’s sometimes really nice to meet new people. That won’t happen if you walk around like a grumpy tourist.
So mingle a bit, go to local bars, ask questions and try to speak some words in their native language.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket (I mean your money)
If you’re going to keep all your credit cards and cash in one place and it gets stolen… you’re f***d.
So put some money in your purse, some in your bag, pants, under the bed, doesn’t matter.
This way when something gets stolen, you won’t lose it all. Don’t skip this one…
Act confident when walking around
Most countries are quite safe for the solo traveller, but bad apples lurk everywhere.
When you’re walking down the streets, try to act as if you know what you’re doing, even if you’re not.
This way you won’t stand out as a potential target for criminals.
If you need to check your phone for directions, don’t stand in the middle of the sidewalk looking around like a lost toddler. Instead, go to a bar and have a beer or a coffee and then check which direction you’re supposed to go.
The above is just an example, but you know what I mean. You can pick out lost tourists easily if you see them. Don’t be a target.
Do not take risks with safety
This ties in with the above. It’s ok to want to explore and not spend a ton of money, but never let is jeopardize your safety.
If you’re out after midnight and you have to get back to your hotel on your own, pay a taxi. If the taxi looks dodgy when it arrives, just walk away.
Travelling alone is a thrilling experience, but the fact is you’re going to have to be more careful. Especially the single female travellers among you.
Don’t party too hard
Last bit about safety, I swear. Just don’t go getting drunk and in trouble.
Doesn’t matter who or where you are, losing control through substance abuse is a sure-fire way to get in trouble.
You could potentially do things that you’ll later regret. You could even get robbed or worse. It’s not worth it and besides – do you really want to feel like shit the next day?
So have some drinks, experiment with drugs if you absolutely must, but keep the handbrake on tight.
You don’t have to do everything alone, you know?
I can hear you thinking “what’s he saying now? We’re talking about solo travel”.
Well yes, but solo travel is not the same as asocial travel. It just means that you’re doing it without close friends or a partner. It doesn’t mean you should be lonely.
So why not consider a guided tour? It’s a great way to meet like-minded people or perhaps even other single travellers.
You’re also getting some good information and could potentially be seeing things that you’d otherwise have missed.
Do not go to fast-food restaurants (you know which ones)
Try to sample as much of the local cuisine as your stomach can handle. Keep in mind that your digestive tract won’t be adapted to an influx of different meals, so don’t go overboard.
But try to visit those small local restaurants that other tourists are avoiding. Some of the best ethnic food is served there and not at the places where they are luring people in.
A great way to start your culinary adventure is to ask a local what they think is the best place for a meal. They’ll probably give you incredibly detailed directions or even join you.
Check-in with people at home
Use social media or just good old phone calls to keep the people at home informed about your whereabouts.
If something were to happen or you’d have an accident, they can contact local authorities and give all the information they need.
Also, what I liked to do, is to create a bit of a travel diary as I progressed. I found it a bit more fun to keep people informed of my location by accurately describing the beauty of it.
Only travel solo when you’re ready for it
Don’t let anyone coax you into travelling alone just because they did it.
You need to be comfortable with the idea and most all, be confident that you’ll enjoy the experience.
You also have to feel open to new cultures and meeting new people. If you’re alone, you’re way more approachable.
So plan a trip and think about what you would do on your own. Then think about it and if the next week you’re still excited about it: go for it.
Don’t fear Hostels, they’re great!
Well, it depends on your personality, but hostels really are fun. You give up some privacy and comfort for new friendships and cool activities.
Many of the guests at a hostel will be very open and social, often they will band together every evening and organise group events.
You can make new friends, go visit stuff together and never be lonely.
Being in a hotel room on your own can feel a bit lonely at times, so hostels are the true way of travelling solo.
And last but not least: Don’t be afraid!
It’s not frightening, it’s an amazing experience. Don’t worry about it, it’s going to be OK, really.
It will be an experience that you will cherish for the rest of your life and you’ll probably want to do it again as soon as possible.
So start planning today! And let me know how it went.
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Here’s a nice pin I made.