Traveling solo for the first time is daunting and scary but once you’re there it seems as easy as ever, here are my top 10 tips for people about to start their solo adventure.
1) Be confident – You don’t need to be a confident person to solo travel, but it certainly helps. Walk into your dorm and introduce yourself to everyone, getting that initial hello out the way makes you feel more comfortable sleeping in a room with strangers. Talk to people make conversation with people in your room, at the bar, around the pool, on a bus journey, on a tour…a lot of people will be solo traveling just like you and maybe they’re not confident so it’s always nice if you approach them to be friendly. Don’t be scared to approach groups or couples, yes, you’ll meet a lot of solo travellers but many of the best people I met traveling were couples or in large groups, having the confidence to approach them meant I made friends to travel with and it’s nice to mingle with everyone, not just solo travelers.
2) Do your research – Research about the countries you plan to visit it will make traveling go a lot smoother. Knowing what visa’s, you need in advance or what you need to get a visa on arrival will make you stress less. Do a little bit of hostel research, read a few reviews or blogs so you don’t turn up and are horrified at the site of you £2 a night hostel that’s miles out of town.
3) Respect the country you’re in – Respecting the country you’re in and its people will keep you out of trouble and makes you more approachable to the locals. Dress appropriately respect the culture if you’re meant to cover your shoulders and waist then please do. Research if there are any religious holidays you should know about, this will keep allowing you to plan around them, for example, I was in Bali for silent day and there’s no transport, or shops open you have to stay in your hotel, however I didn’t realise this at the time so had to frantically book transport around this day due to flying out the following day. Learn basic words such as hello and thank you, it really does go a long way, the locals really appreciate it.
4) Smile – A smile goes a long way, smiling makes you approachable to other backpackers, and you’ll look friendly to locals. A smile can be a great conversation starter, that conversation may lead to a friendship, that friendship may lead to a travel buddy.
5) Carry Cash – Having a small amount of each country’s currency is always useful when crossing borders over land, I’m not saying carry it throughout your travels but when your changing destination it’s always good to get some of their currency out in the airport or in the city before you travel. This is useful for unexpected visa issues or comes in handy when you need for or a taxi and you can’t pay via card or there’s no cash machine around.
6) Check travel plans – Double-check addresses of hostels, restaurants, or attractions because you never know when you may be phoneless with no data or battery. It also useful to keep your hostel address written on paper in your bag, so many times while crossing borders in Asia before getting a sim this came in handy.
7) Keep someone back home updated – Letting family or friends know where your heading next and when you’re expected to arrive is always good, this keeps your family relaxed back home. The family will always be worried about you going solo but keeping in contact and giving them regular updates on how you’re getting on goes a long away so take time out and FaceTime home once every few weeks. Also, keep people in your room or friends you’ve met traveling in the loop of your plans for the day, you read so many stories online that it best to always let someone know what you’re up to that day.
8) Explore – Even if you’re in a quiet hostel and haven’t met anyone yet don’t be afraid to go and explore by yourself, you don’t want to miss out on an amazing waterfall, beach, city or attraction because your alone. Having days to yourself to explore makes you realise how lucky you are to be doing what you’re doing.
9) Take extra – You won’t realise how valuable your bank card is until you lose it aboard because getting a new one sent out is a nightmare! Take an extra bank card, for example, Monzo or revolute, this allows you to split money over accounts in case you lose one of your cards. There’s nothing worse than trying to get a new bank card sent to a different country! Take extra photocopies of your passport, hostels will keep these rather than giving them your actual passport and passport photos when traveling Asia having a set of passport photos makes visas on arrival easier.
10) Use common sense – Use your common sense and be observant, keep your passport and money safe and close to you, avoid getting in confrontation, don’t get so drunk you black out yes, your new travel friends may seem trustworthy but if you wander off drunk it’s not their responsibility to chase and look after you, also you don’t want to be that messy drunk it not a good look. Common sense will always keep you out of sticky situations you don’t want while being a solo traveler.
If your about to set off solo for the first time, your setting off on a trip you’ll never forget, be safe and sensible but have fun and put yourself out of your comfort zone you won’t regret it!!