There is nothing more fulfilling than traveling the world with your friends or family. But at some point in your life, solo travel will be inevitable.
Solo traveling opens up possibility of new; it pushes you out of your comfort zone and compels you to see the world in a new light.
“When I travel by myself, I actually focus more on what I want to do and discover myself more. The more I travel alone, the more I learn about my fears. I learn how to be comfortable eating a meal alone, or walking on the streets by myself without being afraid. Travelling alone teaches me independence I would normally not have. When you travel with people you spend more time focusing on what makes everyone happy, but being by yourself gives you the chance to get to know other people and other cultures.” says Sherin Bodekji Wanes, a communications marketing specialist living and working in Dubai.
We also spoke to a mix of experts, including the amazing team at HolidayMe, who gave us awesome tips as to how to travel by yourself.
1. Try an organised tour
If you are a first time solo traveller, being nervous is absolutely normal! Before going off all by yourself, it might be better if you consider booking a fully organised tour that ensures you are in a group of like-minded travellers. Check the various online travel forums like TripAdvisor, where you can chat to the people in the group beforehand, get to know them a bit and make arrangements to travel together afterwards.
2. Research your destination
Know and understand the culture and social norms of your destination. An important issue to know about is how to deal with harassment. Read up on how to react to unwanted advances from people. You don’t want to intensify and worsen the situation.
3. Day tours
If you’d rather have the freedom to go without an organized tour, then consider a day tour, which can provide a great opportunity to get to know the area you are in, but not take up your whole trip. Being part of a tour is also a lot safer and often offer the best way to see a lot within a short span of time. It’s also a great way to meet lots of new people, ones you can go out for dinner with at the end of the day.
4. Less is more
Packing light is essential when you’re by yourself. One suitcase is always better than two, and backpack is the most ideal in terms of luggage. It’s not only convenient for you but it may also keep you safe. Moving with large suitcases alongside the street carries a subtle invitation in certain countries to potentially get robbed. So avoid any danger by keeping your items close to you.
5. Midnight arrivals are a no-no
Midnight or early night flight prices are cheaper, however, keep that for group or family vacations. If you are arriving at a new place, it would be safer, if you opt for flights that arrive during the day. However, in case it is completely unavoidable, check if you could book airport transfers for the hotel or hostel.
6. Act like a local
One way of warding off unnecessary attention is not doing things you wouldn’t do in your own country or city. It could mean several things – bargaining, communicating in local language and most importantly not leaking out private information to strangers, like where your hotel is located, or showing people your emergency credit cards or cash.
7. Keep your people in the know
Thanks to the advanced technology, keeping in touch is much easier than ever before. Even if you are looking for a digital detox, it doesn’t hurt to keep in touch with your loved ones. Not only will it save them from anxious thoughts, it is important for your own safety. Drop a message, leave a voice note or send a picture once in the morning and once in the evening, so if anything happens, your family is aware.
8. Learn how to say “help”
Make sure you learn how to say important phrases in the language of the country you are visiting. If situation demands, don’t hesitate to yell! No matter what country you are in, yelling is a universal sign of being in danger and easiest way to draw people’s attention.
9. Appear confident
Running out of money, losing way or important documents, all these mishaps are common and can happen to anyone; the important part is how you react to the situation, especially during solo travels. Panicking and appearing lost and confused is like sending a signal out to troublemakers. Remember, you are savvier and stronger than you give yourself credit for. Take a moment, get comfortable in your own skin and give yourself time to adapt to this new mode of travel.
10. Choose who you ask for directions
The best people to speak to when you are lost or need to know about something, are families or elderly women. They are less likely to take advantage of you.