A year ago, if you asked 19 year old me if I would be okay to flying to another country by myself, I would probably laugh uncomfortably and pale at the idea. I wasn’t even comfortable with getting the train to London without going with some friends. So, it’s amazing I’ve travelled solo to three different countries in the past six months though at some points arranging to meet or stay with friends who I knew were there, but still it was a huge milestone for me. I finally felt like an adult.
Travelling solo is scary itself. Especially as a female travelling alone, it can seem like there are twice as many obstacles, fears, issues etc to be apprehensive of. That shouldn’t stop you from travelling though. The first step is to book that flight to your dream destination! Or just a neighbouring country.
And while I don’t have an extensive list of countries I’ve travelled to, here are some tips I’ve picked up on my recent trips which might be helpful for someone reading this who feels daunted by the idea, like I did a year ago.
If you want to be cautious, I’d recommend making multiple printed and digital copies of important documents of things like your passport, insurance, accommodation receipt, driver’s license. You never know if your luggage gets stolen or looted. Also, having on hand embassy information, and all your contacts printed in case you lose your phone. It’s so easy to get pickpocket while you’re out and about especially in a foreign environment where you stand out. Better safe than sorry, right?
As a solo traveller, you’re responsible for your own activities. I prefer to plan and organise exactly what I plan on doing so that I make full use of my time. I’m not really those people who just chill at the beach all day. Something you want to do in particular? Find out how to get there, if you need a taxi, what time it opens etc. You don’t want to get there and feel lost or it being closed because you didn’t realise it was a public holiday. You can do this in the months or weeks before your holiday just by watching travel videos on YouTube or seeing who else went there on Instagram.
I really recommend staying at a hostel! I stayed at a hostel in my first couple of days in Thailand before moving to another accommodation. This was a great idea as I met some lovely people who showed me around, invited me with them to some of their activities, ate with me etc. Travelling solo does not necessarily mean you need to be alone the whole time. Hostels are great because they are usually filled with people from around the world who also want to explore the country you’re at. Some of the people you meet on your travels can become really good friends and I’ve kept in contact with most of the people via social media. Hostels are also usually the most budget friendly accommodation you can find so it’s win-win.
Another lesson I picked up is don’t smile at strangers but always make eye contact. This makes you seem look more confident and sure of yourself, and less of a target. I felt that after smiling at someone passing (men usually) it just becomes awkward because they will approach you and start bothering you. Though for me, it’s natural and polite to smile and look welcoming however I quickly learnt to not do that because strange people take it as the wrong way.
A couple other tips are:
- Having your google map of the area downloaded so you can access it offline.
- Separate all your valuables and money so it’s not all in one place.
- Don’t forget to bring a lock for your locker if you’re staying at a hostel.
- Join travel group on Facebook where you can ask for suggestions or help etc