Top 10 Tips for Travelling Solo
Travelling on your own can be a daunting thought. You may have just finished school, university, left a job, taken a career break and that alone is already a life changing event in itself - you want the travelling to be easy and stress free.
First things first, note - there will be times when it will be stressful, you might go the wrong way, be rushing for a flight, miss a train, not get accommodation straight away....try and take a deep breath and just go with it. It will all come good in the end.
Read my top tips when traveling solo overseas...
1. Are You Ready?
Travelling on your own can be lonely at times, so make sure you are happy with being on your own. If you don't like being on our own at home, then you may not like it when travelling.
Yes, it can be easy to strike up conversation with friendly travellers at the next table to you in a bar, or on a train or bus, and while this could lead to a really good night out with them, swapping tales of travelling, recommending places to each other and the swapping of emails/Facebook details for the sharing of those all important drunken photos to document your travels, be aware that this may be all it will be, it is not always likely that they will be travelling in the same direction or indeed want a travel companion for a few days.
However if it does, even better.
2. Don't Over Pack
Do think carefully about what you need to take with you on your trip. Gone are the days where you need to pack enough clothes to last your entire trip and if you are going to warmer climates then a couple of t shirts and shorts are likely to suffice. Buy anything else en route if required. Space in your rucksack is vital. You do not want to be trawling the streets of an unknown city in the 35 degree heat and humidity, looking for your accommodation, with a heavy massive rucksack on your back.
Don't take 3 books to read to keep you going. Take one in your hand luggage and then either buy or swap books in hotels, hostels or second hand books shops or stalls, they have them everywhere from Madrid to Chiang Mai in Thailand. If you are going to multiple destinations then also buy your travel books en route - its very easy to pick up cheaper used ones on the way, or of course use online travel guides, however, I still prefer having a paper copy in my hands!
3. Don't Over Plan
Planning your route and booking accommodation as you travel is part of the experience. Don't have it all laid out from the start. Be flexible - that is the key to a better experience. You may get to a place, fall in love with it and decide to stay a week. You may get to a place - decide you don't like it and want to leave the next day! The same goes for accommodation. If you are brave enough - just book the first night accommodation in any destination - unless you know it is going to be busy.
Regardless of how much money you have - whether you have a low budget or high one - keep an eye on the funds to make sure you don't have any emergency telephone calls to the Bank of Mum and Dad whilst in Outer Mongolia!! As long as you have a rough guide of your daily budget then you should be fine and you can always economise for a few days to make up for any extravagances!
For me personally I used to keep a record of my spending - mainly so I could from time to time splash out on nice accommodation! Then I would compensate by doing a few dorm rooms in hostels to 'make back the money'!
5. Be Prepared....
6. Accommodation Sharing
Try something like couchsurfing or look on spareroom apps and try to stay with or get to know locals when you visit places. If you get on well with then you might have struck it lucky and they will take you out to the best places - some that the tourists don't know. I had such luck when I was in Madrid and had one of the craziest nights ever at some random karaoke bar with about 8 Spanish people - most of whom did not even understand me! Great times.
7. Talk to Everyone
Be brave - talk to the person next to you on there train, plane, boat, coffee shop, restaurant, beach lounger. Talk to the staff when ordering your drink. Sit at the bar - don't hide away at a corner table when in a bar! Talk to the other single people who might be travelling alone. Talk to families.
You never know what a simple 'Hello, how are you' can lead to. Sometimes it's not that easy and you might get several kick backs or people not willing to engage - but you might just get that one.....which will lead to.....who know! Don't be the one sitting on own watching other people making friends. Sometimes it's difficult to do - but well worth the rewards!
Stay connected with people back home. Keep them advised where you are going. Buy a local sim card for your phone. Keep your documents safe. Email copies of everything to yourself.
9. Use Social Media
Boasting about your travels and what you have done on Facebook, twitter, Instagram, is of course always going to be fun - but more important than that - use your social media family for top tips. Many will have been there before, they can advise and tell you things to do that you might not have thought of.
10. HAVE FUN
Travelling on your own is, I believe, one of the most amazing and potentially life changing things to do ever. Very empowering. There is no one to stop you doing what you want, you get to choose where, when, how and why. So whether it be travelling for a few weeks in Thailand, a month in South America, or a year around the world, get planning and have FUN !!
By Doug Irvine
If you are looking to go traveling and do not want to go solo, we have some fantastic group tours and gap year programs which might appeal to you.