Travelling Solo Guide
Ever just daydreamed about packing your bags and travelling to a certain destination on your own? Welcome to the club as thousands of other Australians have had the same idea.
Whether it’s for a taste of absolute freedom, a need to challenge your fears or to rediscover yourself – here’s a few tips so you can make the most out of your solo adventure.
Leave a copy of your itinerary with family and friends
It’s a good idea to keep in touch with family and friends via email or social media to keep them posted on your whereabouts. Also leave them with a copy of your travel insurance details, passport and other travel documents. Make a copy of these documents for yourself and keep them in a separate place to the originals.
Always keep emergency contact details on hand
Keep a list of family and medical contacts on you, as well as the details of the place where you are staying whilst travelling overseas.
Keep your guard up
When travelling solo you’re bound to meet a lot of new people and socialise. Whilst you are happy to travel with new friends you’ve met it’s wise to remember the saying: “Trust everyone and no one.”
Ditch the “I Heart Paris T-Shirt.”
Try not to look like a typical tourist travelling alone. You don’t want to look like an easy target to unsavoury characters. If you need to look at a map and work out where you’re going, sit inside a café and get your bearings rather than looking dazed and confused in the streets.
Trust your judgement
If you get that sinking feeling that something doesn’t seem or feel right – trust your judgement and don’t do it.
Limit the bling
You don’t want to draw too much attention to yourself and attract the wrong kind of characters. Nothing screams “Please mug me” more than wear flashy expensive jewellery. A fake wedding ring for single women travelling may be handy though to avoid being fair game for eager men.
Confront your solomangarephobia
The name for people being terrified at the thought of dining out alone is called “solomangarephobia”. So rather than ordering room service in your motel or rushing back to your hostel with some take-out, remember that people aren’t there to stare at you and wonder why you’re eating alone – they are there to look at the food and focus on their own social outing. Dining alone gives you more of a chance to savour the food as well. Feel free to take a book if you feel uncomfortable and unsure of where to cast your eyes.
Try dining out solo at lunch time
A restaurant may feel a little disgruntled giving a table to a person eating alone. You’re likely to get a more favourable table if you try dining alone during the day and when the restaurant is not too busy.
Get a SIM card at your destination
A pre-paid SIM at your foreign destination will be cheaper than international roaming and you will be able to hopefully connect to free wi-fi. This will allow you to check in on Facebook, check out restaurants recommended on Foursquare and Yelp and use maps. You can also use it to track your journey home by cab to make sure the driver isn’t taking you the long way. (See next point!).
If you’re catching a taxi – sit in the back seat with your luggage
This will prevent dodgy taxi drivers that try and rip you off for cab fare from keeping your luggage ransom.
Pack a suitcase that is comfortable and safe to sit on
Unattended luggage when you are travelling alone with no one to watch your back can lead to opportunities for crooks. By sitting on your suitcase this ensures that you’re not always keeping your eye on your luggage – but you’re sitting on it!
Take baby steps
If you’re nervous about travelling overseas solo for the first time, try a domestic trip first on your own.
Check out online social media
Just because you’re flying solo doesn’t mean you don’t interact socially with other travellers. Also if you’re staying at a B&B or a hostel – check the message boards, there are generally group activities planned for people staying there and is a great way to socialise.
Talk to the locals
Just walk up and say hello to the locals – the worst they can do is ignore you or not be very receptive. But my biting the bullet you could potentially make a new friend and also get some tips from a valuable insider: a local.
Take a rubber door stop and a safety whistle – just in case
A safety whistle can be used for situations where you are in a compromised situation and need to alert people around you. A rubber door stop can be used on the inside of your hotel room to prevent intruders.
Ask if your hotel or hostel has a safe
Here you can store your travel documents or anything you wish to keep protected. Don’t carry all your cash on you at one time – and if keeping money on you try keeping it in 2 or 3 different areas.
Keep a journal
Without a travel partner who can reflect on your travels once you return home – it’s a good idea to keep a journal so you can keep a memoir of your trip to reflect on yourself once you get home.
Wearing revealing clothing or showing a lot of skin (for men as well as women!) may draw unwanted attention. It’s best to remain inconspicuous and blend in with the locals.
When you get home you will more than likely appreciate the elements of travelling alone; doing whatever you wanted at your own pace and making some great new friends. You may also learn to enjoy your own company and be happy to organise your next solo adventure in the near future.