Travelling solo can be the most freeing experience there is, but it pays to keep a few things in mind in order to get the best out of your trip.
In the recent Hollywood movie adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s book Wild, the heroine takes on a formidable hike of the rigorous Pacific Crest Trail in the US, encountering adventure, deadly wildlife, and extremely sore feet – all alone.
The journey is full of travails, but is ultimately a healing and uplifting experience. Travelling solo can bring confidence, instil independence, inspire and even enhance your future career and personal life. So, whether you’re taking on a big adventure or just having a city break, follow some basic rules to stay safe, broaden your horizons and have a great time.
1. Plan, plan and plan
Spontaneity is good sometimes, but the more research and planning you do ahead of your trip, the more confident you will be and the less chance there is of anything going wrong. Research your locations, find out as much as you can about where you’re going and how you will get there, know the times of your transport and connections, and book your accommodation in advance.
2. Look and act confident
The more you plan the more confident you will appear, which means you’ll be far less likely to fall prey to unwanted attention. Hold your head up, have a confident stride and look like you know what you’re doing. Anyone preying on travellers will opt for the easy target, so don’t let that be you. That means no standing on a street corner looking lost and waving your guidebook around. Look like you know where you are – even when you don’t!
3. Stranger danger
You’re travelling alone, so meeting new people is all part of the fun and experience. But, while staying open-minded to people from all different places, it’s good to be just a little wary. This is the time to remember what your mother told you: don’t get into cars – or go home – with strangers.
CC by 2.0 / Fabian Reus
4. Stay in the light
Being alone doesn’t mean being all tucked up in bed at 9pm. By all means go out after dark but try to stay in well-lit, crowded places. If you’re walking alone after dark and you’re in a place that’s poorly lit, remember to carry a torch or download one onto your smartphone.
5. Watch what you drink
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a few drinks on holiday, but if you’re alone it’s advisable to monitor your alcohol intake. You’ll be far less likely to get into difficulty if you have a clear head. And don’t ever accept drinks from strangers or leave your drink unattended.
6. Act accordingly
Whether drinking or not, you should adjust your level of alertness according to where you travel. Research your destination. If you’re in a busy metropolis that’s known for a high crime rate, it makes sense to behave differently than you would in, say, a quiet beach resort known for its safety.
7. Take Books With You
Hiding behind a book or tablet while eating out can be a mixed blessing. It’s a great way to put off unwanted attention if you’re not in the mood to meet other travellers or if someone undesirable approaches, but if you do want to meet people – and remember there are plenty of other solo travellers out there keen to meet you – put the book away, and be open and friendly.
8. Choose single-friendly destinations
The world’s most romantic destinations – Paris or the Maldives, for instance – are perhaps not the best places to travel solo if you’re bothered by crazy-in-love couples mooning about. But there are plenty of other destinations that won’t make you feel that way and where lots of other solo travellers hang out.
9. Stay in touch
Stay in touch with loved ones back home, whether by phone or internet. Make sure people have a copy of your schedule and where you’re supposed to be and when. Make arrangements to check in from time to time.
10. Do as you please
Last and best of all, do whatever you want!
Yes, you need to take care of yourself, but the above are just precautions, and not meant to put you off. Remember all the many benefits of solo travel, including the big one – no one to consult about your daily schedule, leaving you to do exactly as you please all day long. Make the most of it.
To find some ideal destinations for your solo travel adventure, and to book your trip, head to our site.