Travelling alone can be exciting, magical, life affirming and incredible. You can explore the sites and cities of the world without every worrying about slowing someone else down, holding them back, or getting on their nerves. Your days revolve around the plans you want to make, and every journey you take is making you that bit more independent.
But solo travel is also a test of survival.
When things go wrong, it can be really scary trying to find yourself in a place you don’t you know, and making yourself safe becomes your new top priority.
Phone batteries can die, maps can get lost and plans can go askew, so it’s important to keep your cool and focus on your next steps ahead to get you to where you want to be.
We’ve drawn up a list of our top Solo Traveller tips to help you relax and enjoy your adventures, safely and happily, before you set off!
Plan your routes
Whilst you won’t be able to plan every single second of your trip, a little bit of preparation is so useful for making your journey there as easy as possible.
Google Maps is going to be your new best friend, and you’ll learn that your internal navigation is a lot more reliable than you might think.
One of the best bits of travelling alone is learning just how much you can cope with on your own, and your inner GPS will be a lot more trustworthy than you imagine.
Ok, so you don’t have to go on ‘walking trips for the alone and lonely’ to make friends. But simply chatting to people who offer it is going to make you feel so much more at home in a strange place.
Asking someone for directions, opening up a conversation about ‘so where are you from’ ‘how long on you here for’ ‘what have you got planned for your trip’ can be a huge comfort if you’re feeling a little adrift.
Don’t be afraid of doing things alone
You’ve come on this trip alone, so you might as well enjoy it alone. Grab your laptop, grab your favourite book, a podcast, a playlist, and just explore. Eat in restaraunts alone, grab coffee alone, go sightseeing alone.
Whatever you do, so long as you’re experiencing the culture you came here to embrace, you’re doing a good job.
One of the hardest things most people struggle with when travelling alone is a lack of purpose.
You can feel like there’s no point to going into a coffee shop, to heading out to a beauty spot, to exploring the local villages…as you’re on my own. So make your purpose photography, or blogging.
Think about returning home, and having nothing to show for your trip. So take photos, and give yourself reasons for venturing out into the world to motivate me into action.
Connect with your inbuilt survival mode
Things can go wrong on holiday, whether you’re with friends, family or going it alone, and it’s always worrying to imagine.
But when you’re alone, and your plans start to fall apart, the best thing you can do is let your survival instincts take over. Don’t think ‘cool’, think ‘practical’. If your phone dies, where is the nearest place you can go to charge it – a coffee shop? Go in, buy a coffee and wait. The 7 wonders of the world aren’t going anywhere, and your safety depends on that phone.
You lose your way? Head into a shop, and ask someone. Find a tour guide, or even better, another tourist, likely to be clutching several maps with one going spare.
You start to feel ill? Head back to your hotel, and contact as many people as you can, letting them know your situation and figuring out your next move – calling a doctor, contacting your hotel/AirBnB host, or even planning your early trip home.
There are safe spaces in every city and country, whether it’s a restaurant, hotel lobby, cafe or shopping centre. There are places to charge your devices, to grab some water and to calm down and figure out what to do. So don’t panic, you’ve already got this covered.
Although everyone is encouraged, at some stage of their lives, to travel the world, there are certain things to do before you set off to steady your nerve, and keep your cool as you go. Enjoy the adventure, and stay safe!