Some people feel understandably nervous about travelling solo, but not all of us have partners, family or friends with the same taste in travel experiences. So if you’re thinking about booking your first solo trip, here are my top tips…
1. Don’t worry about getting lonely – when you travel alone you are much more likely to meet new people, strike up conversation, and get offered help by strangers than when you are in a group. If you’re quite independent, just give it a go, maybe booking a fairly simple trip to begin with. Otherwise, why not avoid the dreaded single supplement by staying in a hostel, or join a small group adventure holiday and have a ready made group of like-minded people to travel with. These kind of tours will often pair you with another traveller of the same gender and approximately the same age if you don’t mind sharing.
2. Use your common sense – don’t do anything you wouldn’t do at home, like leaving the public domain with a stranger, trust your instincts and be aware of your surroundings.
3. Stay safe – most importantly do your research about your destination, including any local customs and standards of dress code. But also travel light, keep valuables out of sight, plan your travel to avoid arriving in a new city late at night, and book the first nights accommodation in advance as a minimum. I would always recommend having good travel insurance and letting your bank and credit card company know where you are going to avoid cards being declined.
4. Don’t be self conscious about spending time alone – many people feel uncomfortable dining in public or sitting in a bar on their own, but just carry a book to read, watch the world go by or write in your travel journal and remember that it is highly unlikely that anybody is judging you.
5. Know how to deal with the occasional weirdo – if somebody is troubling you just walk away, but stay in a busy place. If that doesn’t work, enlist the help of a passer-by, waiter or nearby hotel staff, and if necessary tell the person to leave you alone, lie and say your partner will return shortly, or make a scene.
6. Focus on the benefits – it will be easier to meet people, you can set your own itinerary and do what you want when you want, there will certainly be no arguments and it will boost your confidence and make you feel more self-reliant. And don’t worry there will always be somebody around to take a picture of you in front of that ancient monument or other attraction.
There are many solo travel guides, books, web resources and even travel companies who specialise in solo travel – so get online and start planning!