Travelling on your own can be refreshing, exciting and awesome for the soul, but it can also be challenging, scary and a bit lonely sometimes. These things shouldn’t stop you from going for it and booking that trip though. Instead, we need to work out methods to minimise the low times and how to work through them when they creep in.
In this short article you’ll find about some of the strategies I’ve learnt over the years and hopefully find useful for your next adventure!
Research probably doesn’t sound that thrilling. That is until you realise that this is the first step to making your adventure as awesome as possible!
General research. Sounds obvious but reading up on where your going can really help you to get the most out of your trip, such as making a list of things you might like to do or see, plus noting down dates of any special events or festivals you would like to include. Having even a small amount of knowledge on local cultures can be beneficial in many ways, as well gain people’s respect once in country and potentially avoid accidentally offending anyone.
Leave plenty of space for spontaneity. Whilst having a rough plan with a few set plans is good to work around, make sure there’s plenty of space for things that might come up unexpectedly. You never know who you might meet, who may mention a place that sounds really interesting, or an event you find out is happening during your trip and you want to fit in.
Investigate transport options. This is especially important if you’re arriving late at night and need to get to your accommodation. It also just makes life easier for getting around and helps to make the most of your time and money. It’s also worth looking in to safety considerations, such walking alone in certain areas or any reported incidents with taxi drivers etc. See ‘Useful Apps’ below.
Learn the basics. Life will be much easier if you know a few key words or phrases of the native language before you arrive, such as being able to ask for an item in a shop or for directions. It may therefore be useful to learn how to say things such as left/right/ straight on, please and thank you and numbers 1-10. See ‘Useful Apps’ below.
Leave the heavy stuff behind. Most airports, bus stations and hostels or hotels are happy to store your luggage for a small fee, allowing you to go explore!
Have more than one plan for paying for things. It’s most certainly worth having a back up plan when it comes to paying for things whilst your away, that way in unfortunate circumstances such as your card or cash being stolen, lost or damaged, you have an emergency bank card or way to access funds. So if you have a bit of cash and a debit card, it might be worth having a credit card stored in a different bag just incase.
Useful Apps for your phone
Getting around- Offline maps are a game changer for travelling alone. Especially if you’ve only just landed and don’t have a local sim card with data yet. Whether it’s to find your accommodation or the bus station, it’s always going to make you feel more at ease knowing that you have some help if needed, even if you don’t end up using it.
My favourites are Google Maps Offline or Maps.me
Communication- An offline translator app is super handy when your not familiar with the language, for something as simple as ordering a sandwich, understanding a street sign or explaining an illness to a doctor. I tend to use Google Translate, offline version.
Travel- Apps such as Uber simplify ordering and paying for taxis, which is very useful if you’ve just arrived and don’t have local currency yet or don’t speak the same language as the driver. It is also thought to be a safer option as the drivers are all registered and you can easily report any problems.
This is your time to do whatever you want and that’s awesome!
Plan some things you’ve never done before
Mix it up! Vary the type of accommodation you stay in, such as camping, hostels, nice hotels, domes etc. You will have a mixture of experiences and meet a wide variety of people, making your trip even more interesting. The contrast could also be good for your budget, as well as making you really appreciate the more luxury stays!
And if you’re starting to crave some company… book a group activity, involving something that you will find enjoyable and interesting. This will break up the time alone and you’ll most probably meet like-minded people.
Also, just generally making an effort to get to know new people will fill that gap you might be feeling from time to time. At your hostel, in a coffee shop, at a tourist attraction, waiting for the bus- anything really- be brave and start asking some friendly questions.
Unfortunately feeling a bit lonely at times is pretty likely, but hopefully a few of these strategies help you the feel good for as much of your time away as possible.
A good playlist! Sounds simple, but there are just some songs that instantly pick you up and make you want to jump around, or remind you of happy memories, just like a chill out mix might help if you’re feeling a bit anxious.
Plan some town life here and there. Most of us love being in the mountains, but occasionally it’s nice to know that you will be passing through places where you can get in touch with people back home.
Although some room for spontaneity is essential, it can always help to have a few set plans arranged too. A little structure here and there can help with feeling like your time is purposeful and avoid that lost feeling, as well as give you things to look forward to.
Write about it! Whether you’re feeling happy, sad, worried, excited- write it down! Not only does this help to get it all out and improve how you’re feeling, you’ll may enjoy, as well as learn from reading about it in the future.
Eat, drink, sleep and be merry! A lack of any of these things will emphasise any negative vibes brewing. Look after yourself and listen to what you need, if you need a chill out day then go for it.
So there we go, I’ve let you in on a few of my Solo Travel Cheats
Many of them were learnt the hard way, often by less than ideal situations. Pretty much every trip that I have undertaken has involved some kind of stressful or scary experience. Whilst these are not pleasant at the time, I have learnt something valuable from each and everyone one of them and have come to realise they are just part of the journey and part of what makes it an adventure!
Who would want it to be easy anyway?