Travelling is such a fantastic experience. You get to see new and exciting places and meet new and exciting people. There is so much to learn from just one short trip that you might think: “Why haven’t I spent my entire life travelling?”. The truth though, is that sometimes travelling alone can be a lot more intimidating when it is a reality instead of just an idea in your head. You mustn’t let this scare you though. Doing things by yourself are meant to be a bit more challenging – you don’t have ready support behind you, and you might not have people there to guide you. But let me tell you that once you get past the intimidating thought of it, you will have so much fun that you won’t want to go home. I’ve done a lot of travelling in my life, but only a small portion of it has been on my own. However, even though I have only had limited experience, I have learnt (from these trips and others around me) how to travel alone successfully and in a way that I can enjoy myself even when being responsible. If you’re looking for tips for your solo trip, then look no further (by that I mean you can just keep scrolling, you don’t need to find another site).
Some of you may think that I am starting to sound like Scar from The Lion King with this chorus of “Be Prepared” but hear me out first. Being prepared is crucial to doing anything, especially when you are on your own. Sometimes you may feel the urge to “wing it” and that things will “sort themselves out” but getting lost in a foreign city is not as simple to solve as movies make it seem. Be prepared before your trip by making sure you pack the right clothes and extras and perhaps do a little extra research on where you are going. Every city and country is slightly different so going in and knowing what to expect (like whether or not you should use public transport or book a car) just gives you an extra edge. Another thing that you should be prepared for, just in case, is to be prepared for the unexpected. You can’t prepare for everything and there will always be something that doesn’t fit with your plan, but you can be ready to deal with that so being prepared for things to change is another useful skill to learn.
It’s not so scary
Don’t be intimidated by arriving at an airport by yourself or navigating a foreign city without someone else as a backup – you are perfectly capable of doing brilliantly all on your own. Yes, the first few nights may be quite lonely, and you may feel uncomfortable in the beginning doing certain things but don’t let that scare you into getting on the next plane home. Once you get past that beginning stage, you’ll start to see how much fun it is. After this taste of freedom, you may soon find that you’d rather stay abroad than go home.
Would you prefer to struggle to carry four bags up the stairs to your room or just one or two? That was a trick question – I’m sure all of us would go with the lighter option. One problem with travelling is that most of us tend to overpack. You don’t want to do this when you are travelling alone because all that does is give you more stuff to carry. Think ahead about what you may need but also remember that you don’t need to bring half your wardrobe if you’re only going to wear a third of that. When you are flying solo, laundromats are very easy to use, most hotels will have a laundry service and besides, if you do need something that you forgot to pack, then you can buy it. It’s easier to pack light and add anything you’ve forgotten later than be burdened with so much that you can’t carry it right from the start.
Another concept that movies romanticise is how easy it is to solve losing your passport. That is a lie that needs to be exposed. There are only four things you need when travelling and a passport is one of them (all four items are your phone, phone charger, wallet and passport because everything else can be bought). Before you leave, make sure that you make photocopies of your passport, take pictures of it on your phone and email yourself a copy too. When you travel, either keep your passport on you at all times or keep it locked in your bag locked in your room. A passport is one thing that is very hard to replace abroad so make sure you don’t give yourself that issue. On the topic of insurance though, make sure that you do your research about travel insurance (medically for yourself or just for your stuff). Anything could happen while you are away from falling off a mountain to having all of your luggage stolen, and having insurance is just a safety net that ensures you will be looked after even if the worst happens.
Be alert but open
It’s important to stay alert no matter where you are in the world. However, you should also remember that not everyone is out to hurt you or take advantage of you. If someone friendly invites you out for a meal or a group of people staying in the same hotel as you ask you to join them for the day, don’t feel like you have to say no in case they are a threat. The critical thing to do is trust your gut and stay alert – if something doesn’t feel right to you then leave or stop it, but otherwise, there is no law against enjoying yourself with the people you meet.
Chat to the locals
As much as some people would like to believe this, guidebooks and travel websites do not tell you everything (please do not tell my mother that I said that, I would be very unpopular for that comment). Try getting to know one or two of the locals, as they have insider information about where you are staying that guidebooks would kill for. Ask the locals for restaurant recommendations, how best to get around the city and even what activities or locations are fun to go to. I’ll bet you anything that you’ll have a better time following their advice than any other.
If you have yet to spend time in countries that are entirely different from your own, then you’ll soon find on your travels what culture shock feels like. It can often be quite overwhelming to become absorbed in a place where the culture is nothing like your own – don’t let that scare you or cause you to be snobbish or close-minded. Be open to the cultures around you because it is often a lot easier to enjoy your trip when you flow with the prominent culture.
Try not to stay out too late
Have you ever watched a horror movie? I haven’t, but I have been told that most of them take place at night. Why is that? It is because everything seems scarier at night. That creak or those footsteps seem more threatening, and there is no longer the light of day to scare away the monsters. With this in mind, why would you stay out until the early hours of the morning in a foreign city that you have never been to before? There is nothing wrong with going out at night, but try to go home earlier rather than later. Not because there is something out there that might harm you but just because it is better to be safe than sorry.
A picture says a thousand words
Sometimes you get lucky and decide to go somewhere where they speak your language. More often than not though, you won’t always wind up in a place where people speak the same language as you. For cases like this when you need to talk to someone though, and they are struggling to understand you, download some pictures when you can to show them because while languages differ, most people understand photos in the same way. If you are looking for a restaurant or a location, download a picture and show someone and I am sure they will be able to show you the way. The language barrier has been conquered.
Don’t drink to get drunk
There is nothing wrong with having a drink. Sometimes, after a busy day of sightseeing or exploring, all you want is a drink. What you mustn’t do though, is drink until you are way past your limit and are now considered a hazard to other human beings. It is one thing to get drunk when you are in your hometown, and you know where you are, where there are people to look out for you, but it is another thing to get drunk in a place where you are unfamiliar, and you don’t have someone you can call to pick you up. All I’m saying is drink responsibly so that you don’t put yourself in any unnecessary risky situations.
P.S. DO NOT DRINK AT ALL IF YOU ARE UNDERAGE. THIS BLOG DOES NOT PROMOTE UNDERAGE DRINKING!!
Dress with your head
As I said earlier, it is essential to think about where you are going and the culture of the people there. This includes how you dress. Logic, of course, comes first so don’t pack all of your lovely winter jackets if you are going to a place where the locals only ever wear t-shirts. The other thing to think of though is what kind of community you are going to be in. For example, you shouldn’t be wearing short shorts and spaghetti strap shirts in a more conservative country, and if you are going into a church, temple etc. it is respectful to cover up your bare flesh (so not just wearing a thin shirt) and take off your hat. These are just small things to think about that will make your life easier.
It’s going to be tough
As with anything that you are doing on your own or for the first time, it is going to be hard. You are going to come across challenges that you have never faced before or obstacles that you think you might not be able to get through. The critical thing to remember is that just because life gets tough, doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get through it and should hide in your room too afraid to face it. Life is not going to be cupcakes and rainbows all the time (which sucks because I would love that) so we all need to learn to deal with that and the best time to learn how to do that is while travelling solo.
So there you have it. Travelling as a group is a lot of fun, don’t get me wrong about that, but sometimes the freedom of travelling solo and the lessons that you subsequently learn can have a far more lasting impact. I know that some of us may not have the luxury to travel, but if you can, then I highly recommend adding a solo trip to your bucket list. You’ll make life-lasting memories and come back, if not a different person, but a changed person. As always, I hope you enjoyed this post. I want to say a huge thanks to my friends and family for continually supporting me in my blogging endeavours as well as to all of you who keep coming back to read and those of you who have just started reading. You guys are the reason why I love doing this so *snaps for all of you*. If you have any of your own travel tips, please don’t forget to share in the comments section. I am still learning after all and love any extra advice I can get. Please like and share this post if you enjoyed, and subscribe, so you don’t miss any future posts
Lots of Love
Blondey on a Mission xxx
P.S. If there is anything that you guys would like to see (i.e. specific things discussed or a particular post, or even changes to the blog itself), then please let me know in the comments. You can tell me if there are specific things that you would like to see and if they are possible, I will gladly oblige. Love you all!