The topic of solo travelling has been a great never ending debate in our current society amongst both genders of all ages; each sharing a different perception and perspective about travelling solo. Each individual has their own way of defining and interpreting what solo travel really means to them, be it a bucket list thing to do or a place they’ve always dreamed of all their life. The facts about solo travel as a real-life experience is very different from what you may think or what your friend thinks. In order to ever have a taste of it, you have to step out and try it yourself. Solo travel is now or never! While it is one of life’s most fulfilling experience, solo travel is not only memorable but beautifully life changing.
From my extensive travel experience, both good and bad, I have summarised the ultimate tips that I have gained during my journeys to help guide you along the way.
Know Your Destination
Setting foot into a totally foreign country can be both exciting and daunting, especially if you are a first time solo traveller. Do your own research and gather the necessary knowledge and information through blog reviews and travel guides about the destination you’ll be travelling to as this is definitely the most important essential in making your trip as smooth as silk.
‘The attitude of confidence wins.’ Hold your chin up and put your best self forward while you’re on the road. Be confident in your every action. This prevents you from falling ‘prey’ to the wrong people. Even when challenges arises, be firm and have an open mindset. This will helps you think clearly in impromptu decision making.
By integrating into local culture, not only will you gain valuable insight of your destination, you can also protect yourself from becoming a target of tourist scams and unwanted attention. Mask yourself from looking so ‘tourist-like’ by dressing appropriately like a local and talk with respect and courtesy. Who knows, you might even get to buy stuff at local prices!
A smile opens the door of conversation and with a simple “Hello”, a new friend made. Most local folks are nice and helpful especially with a foreigner in the right tone and mutual relationship. Even though there may be a language barrier in communication, they are always willing to help if you need some assistance. A smile is a universal language and will definitely light up yours and everyone’s day, making your trip more meaningful.
Communicate Your Whereabouts
Have your itinerary and journey plans written down. Leave a copy of it with your hotel or host, together with a photo-copy of your passport. Sign up with your local government’s traveller-assist programs, for emergency contacts, location of your government’s embassies and to have your itinerary recorded. Most importantly, always stay in touch with your family and update them about your exciting fun-filled locations.
Get All Touristy
Get up and get out. You didn’t come all this way to just stay in your room! Put your electronic gadgets away and stop social media-ing or burying yourself under the pillows of your hotel. Stop giving yourself excuses of not being out by ruminating on the thought of scariness and “what if”. Wear your tourist hat and switch on the mode of exploration. Things are not as bad as you think. The only way to get rid of negative thoughts and to enjoy solo travelling is to experience it yourself out there! And with each successful itinerary day complete, the closer you are to being a new you.
Don’t think so much. Relax and be yourself. Enjoying your destination pace by pace, absorbing all the goodness it has to offer. It’s totally understandable to feel afraid or stress up in a totally foreign place. But since you’ve taken your first step in solo travelling, then don’t let negative mindset hold you back from writing your first chapter of memories. You’d be amazed at yourself when you look back later on how you did it!
Double Check Your Bag
Before you head out for your day of activities, always ensure that you have the necessary essentials and belongings with you. Tourists guide, transportation cards and most importantly…a reasonably sized power bank. Mobile battery life tends to drain fast when roaming and also if you tend to use your mobile maps frequently. Try to conserve battery life by not doing Facebook or Instagramming while you’re out there enjoying the moment of life…do it when you get back to the hotel!
Minimise Your Suitcase
Keep your suitcase as simple as possible by minimising it to only what you need. Bulky suitcases are not only difficult to manage but also an inconvenience if you have to cover distances on foot. Also in certain developing countries, elevators are a luxury facility. Hence you may have to carry your suitcases up the stairs at times. A light weight durable messenger bag or backpack is highly favourable among tourists for keeping their gadgets and personal belongings close to them and always in check.
Book In Advance
As this is your first solo trip, book in advance to avoid any chance of disappointment and skip the long queue of famous tourist attractions. This gives you a general idea of your day to day activities, planning it without rush and allowing you the flexibility to manoeuvre around that area for more exciting explorations. Sometimes by booking in advance, it may also help you save a few bucks compared to purchasing tickets on the spot at the admissions counters.
Prepare For The Unexpected
It is always good to separate your valuables like cash, credit cards and passport from your bag and place them enclosed on a different part of your body. A money belt that hides underneath your clothes works well. Keep a small amount of cash like a $100 tucked somewhere in your shoes or for ladies, in your bralette while you’re out and about, in case of emergency. Also, tour groups may just make things a bit more disorienting and rowdy with the crowds and all. Do avoid public holidays whenever you can.
Solo travel ain’t that bad and scary after all, especially if you have a few know-hows on hand and practice them till you are used to it and comfortable with it. And again, experience is the best skill of all, so keep trying! With so many travel guides and tips easily available online everywhere, there is no right or wrong, hard-and-fast rules or ways in getting prepared for your first-ever solo trip. The most important question of all is: Do you dare to take the first step?
To everyone out there who has been thinking of taking your first-ever solo trip, I fully support you and hope you step out and enjoy every single moment of it.