Making the decision to travel solo is a difficult one that not many people make. It can seem frightening and loads of people choose to travel for the sake of making memories with their loved ones. However, there are loads of great reasons to travel alone and it’s a great choice to make if you know how to navigate your journey.
One of the major reasons that people avoid travelling alone is a fear for their personal safety, and we totally get that. However, travelling safely just comes down to awareness and being prepared. Doing your research about the areas you’ll be travelling to is an important first step. You’ll want to know what the locals have to say about which areas are safe to wander around in. Try and stick to open and public spaces (follow the party), especially at night. An additional safety measure you can take is to travel with a personal alarm keychain which can alert those around you to the fact that you’re in danger. Safety is an important element to consider, but it shouldn’t deter you from solo travel. Anyone can be perfectly safe travelling on their own so long as they take precautions.
Do Your Research
Planning out your trip ahead of time is always a good idea, but especially important when you’re alone. Knowing a little about the place you’re travelling to is important for your safety but also for your own enjoyment. It’s no fun to arrive somewhere by yourself and then have no idea how to spend your time – make a list of attractions and restaurants you’d like to try out or things you want to experience. Wandering around aimlessly is usually more fun when you have someone to do it with, so having a rough plan is a good idea in this case. You could also look into researching local helplines to be prepared in case of any emergencies.
Organize Your Documentation
Having more than one copy of your identification is a good idea when you’re travelling – either solo or with a partner. When you’re travelling alone though, it’s important to keep a list of your emergency contacts and their contact details, as well as any additional information that might be important in the case of a medical emergency or other issues. Finally, provide your family or partner with a copy of your travel itinerary. This includes your flights and accommodation information, and any other bookings or reservations you might have made. This will help them to stay on track with where you are and hopefully help them to get into contact with you if something were to go wrong that leaves you unreachable.
When it comes to picking your accommodation, pay close attention to the ratings and reviews. Since you’re probably unfamiliar with the area you’re staying in, it’s best to rely on other’s experiences of a place. An Airbnb or guest house with multiple positive reviews and ratings is probably going to be a safe bet, if lots of travellers have had a positive experience with it. A bonus tip is to pick accommodation that offers a free Wi-Fi connection. This will allow you to easily and frequently get into contact with your loved ones to let them know you’re safe and fight any loneliness you might experience.
Follow the Locals
One of the best pieces of advice when it comes to travelling in a foreign city or country is to go where the locals go. These people know the area like the backs of their hands and are keenly aware of which restaurants, markets, activities and other attractions are worth the visit. You may feel shy at first, but don’t be afraid to strike up conversations with people around you to find out where they suggest you visit.
Learn the Language
Or at least the basics. Having a few key phrases up your sleeve will be incredibly valuable when travelling in a foreign country. Some phrases to learn include, “I need help,” “Do you speak English?,” “I don’t understand,” “No, thank you,” “Which way to…?” and others like these. Apps like Duolingo can be a great help in getting the basics under your belt before a big trip.
Why is it Worth it?
Some people may still be wondering what there is to gain from willingly travelling alone, and the answers are endless. Travelling solo is an entirely different experience, from which you can gain so much. Especially for someone seeking to gain independence, life skills or a bit of personal introspection, travelling alone is a wonderful way to do this.
Travelling solo opens up the opportunity for you to do and experience things that you may never do with a partner or your family. When you’re by yourself, you have only your own needs and wants to consider, which means you’ll never be dragged into a museum or theme park that doesn’t really interest you. Instead, you have the chance to really follow your heart and experience everything that that you desire without having to worry about keeping others happy.
This way of travelling also gives you the chance to meet new and exciting people. Whether you find other travellers to spend time with or simply find yourself conversing with different locals each evening, you’ll get to experience different people, cultures and perspectives which you otherwise might never have encountered. Travelling with a partner or a group usually entails sticking together. When you’re by yourself, you’re often pushed out of your comfort zone in order to find some company.
The final reason why travelling alone is a great decision is the fact that you can learn things about yourself that you never knew. You might discover new passions and interests or realise your own strengths and capabilities through this new and scary experience. Travelling alone does force you to spend a little extra time in your own head, which is something that many avoid. However, opening yourself up to spending time with yourself is something you’ll never regret.