Recent research has revealed that more than three quarters of Brits have travelled alone, or plan to in the future. Here is our ultimate survival guide to help you get through your first solo trip.
Solo travelling can be a life-changing experience whatever your age and situation. In fact, a recent study by Travelzoo revealed that more than 75% of Brits either have or will travel alone, with 60% of those leaving their partners behind to do it!
You can explore the world in a way that suits you and at your own pace without having to compromise. For first-time solo travellers, the prospect can seem a little daunting, but it could be the best thing you ever do. So if you’re thinking of hitting the road, this is our first timer’s survival guide.
The sense of adventure and the unknown is often the most exciting part of travelling alone, but it’s still a good idea to have a basic itinerary prepared. Wherever possible, list the name and address of hotels, or at least which part of the world you intend to be in week by week. That way you can share this information with someone close to you, so they know how where you are if they need you.
Don’t get carried away when packing; the bare essentials should be enough to get you through. If you can get everything into a carry-on bag then you have one less thing to worry about, as there is no chance of the airline losing your baggage or having to pay extra fees to have it put into the hold. It will also be easier for you to get around without large suitcases in tow.
Back up your important documents
Make a couple of copies of your important documents, such as passport, travel insurance, prepaid reservations/confirmations etc, and leave with a loved one in case they need to send you them.
Alternatively, for complete self-sufficiency, put them onto a memory stick or an online cloud for easy, instant access. Just make sure you don’t make copies of your credit cards/bank cards as this could open you up to financial crime.
Keep in touch
Family and friends back home may be worried about you, so try to keep in touch with them in regular intervals. Whether it’s a quick call, text or email, let them know that you’re safe and what you’ve been up to. They will thank you for it.
Don’t forget that there’s free data roaming in the EU so you don’t have to worry about an expensive bill waiting for you at home.
Don’t be scared to eat alone
For the introverts, eating on your own can seem scary, but you will have to do it at some point. If you’re feeling nervous about it, then it could be a good idea to take yourself out for a meal before you jet off. If you’re still feeling uncomfortable eating alone when you arrive, take a book or a magazine with you.
Travelling on your own can make you feel vulnerable, but don’t be a target for pick pockets and unsavoury characters. Ensure you keep your phone out of sight unless you really need to use it, and even then, try to find a quiet spot. In some countries, owning a smartphone is unattainable so this may increase the risk of it being stolen. Below are some important dos and don’ts:
Invest in a money belt
Have a decoy wallet with bit of cash and a few expired bankcards
Be aware of your surroundings
Keep all of your money in the same place
Show off your valuables
Walk around with earphones in
Learn a bit of the local language
A few choice words and phrases will really help you on your travels and it doesn’t require much effort. Learn to say please and thank you, ask for directions and the names of some basic food and drink items. This will show the locals you have put in the effort and they are more likely to want to help.
Go with your gut
Being in an unfamiliar place can bring some trepidation and possible dangers with it, so if you ever feel unsure about a place or situation where get that ‘gut feeling’ telling you something isn’t quite right, then leave. Don’t be afraid to just get up and go. It may be safer in the long run.
Don’t be afraid to speak to people
Just because you’re travelling on your own doesn’t mean you have to spend the entire trip without speaking to another soul. Take this opportunity to meet new people you wouldn’t usually have the chance to. Staying at a social hostel is a great way to make new friends and exchange stories – you may also learn about new places to explore . It will also be good for those evenings when you feel you want some company other than your own.
You never know, you might meet someone special while out on the road.
Be confident and make it about you
At the end of the day you are on this trip for YOU so don’t shy away from the things you really want to do. Embrace the unknown and really go for it. You might surprise yourself by doing things you never thought you would or could experience.
Many solo travellers will tell you that experiencing the world on their own was one of the best things that they have ever done. So what are you waiting for?
Let us know if you’re solo travelling this summer by tweeting us @Hitachi_Finance using the hashtag #solotraveller
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