Travelling solo has become increasingly popular. Research suggests that 40 percent of first-time travellers, 13 percent of all British holidaymakers and 21 percent of over-65s actually prefer to travel alone. The first time you jet off solo can be nerve-wracking though.
Here are five solo travelling tips to ensure you have the best possible experience:
PACK LIGHTLY & SAFELY
If you’re travelling alone you’re unlikely to have anyone to help carry bags, so if your trip includes multiple stops, ensure you don’t take any more than is absolutely necessary or you could end up exhausted by hauling your luggage from place to place. Packing efficiently becomes a priority therefore, as does packing with safety in mind; be sure to take all necessary medication and basic first aid stuff, and store critical belongings in separate places (hiding some cash somewhere secret or removing a credit card and placing it in another bag for example, just in case your wallet gets lost or stolen). When packing clothing, don’t just consider temperature but also how you can best blend in with the local culture to avoid attracting unwanted attention.
LEARN SOME OF THE LANGUAGE
One of the best things about travelling alone is that, without the easy option of chatting to a known companion, you’re more likely to interact with locals and get under the skin of the culture wherever you are. It’s easier to ingratiate yourself with locals if you know at least a few key phrases in their language, so consider swatting up a bit before you go and downloading a phrasebook onto a tablet or phone so that you can access it offline once you’re there (avoiding hefty roaming charges). If you have more time consider taking a language course as you arrive in your destination – also a great way to make friends in a new place if you’re going to be there for a while.
RESEARCH PLACES TO GO AND STAY
It’s important to feel safe and comfortable wherever you’re staying when you’re travelling alone, so do your research beforehand. If you’re a night owl who loves experiencing the local nightlife, consider staying close to the action to avoid taxi fares or long walks home alone. If you know you want privacy and quiet however, check that your hotel isn’t opposite a nightclub. When travelling in low season, solo travellers can sometimes get the single supplement knocked off their bill – so do call the hotel ahead of time and try negotiating.
EXPLORE & DEEPEN YOUR INTERESTS
One of the best things about travelling alone is that you needn’t worry about anybody else, indulging your curiosities at whatever pace suits you. This is something to take advantage of, whether it’s booking a local cookery course, wandering around temples or heading off to the nearest stadium to watch the national sport. It’s also good to set aside some time for impulsive exploration too; sometimes the best discoveries are made by chance, so be flexible with your itinerary and move on or stay longer if the mood takes you.
CONSIDER JOINING A GROUP
Joining an organised group trip either for some or all of your time away can for many solo travellers provide the ideal balance between freedom and security. Allowing local experts or companies who have experience in the area to sort out the details can help solo travellers who don’t have huge amounts of time to see the best parts of their destination, and sometimes the hidden ones too. Being thrown in with a bunch of people you’ve never met allows you to make friends for the duration of your trip without any obligations to become soulmates, although there’s always the chance of meeting someone special.