While not everyone is comfortably heading out into the world alone, more and more people are doing it. Travelling alone gives you complete freedom to decide what you do each day and where you go and can be incredibly liberating. However, travelling solo also comes with its own set of challenges. First and foremost, you have to watch out for yourself and always ensure you feel safe and comfortable. Whether it’s your first solo trip or your tenth, consider these 15 tips that could help to improve your trip and make it the best one ever.
1. Adapt your behaviour to the local culture
Every country around the world has its own customs and norms. Even neighbouring countries have subtle differences between their cultures, with regards to clothing, food and behaviour. Research the culture and observe the locals to adapt your behaviour to your surroundings.
2. Avoid walking down the street with a map open
While its sometimes necessary to take out a map in order to find your way, doing so in a busy spot may make you a target for robbery. Likewise, taking out a phone to look at a map may set you at risk for someone to snatch your phone. If you need to find your way, step into a local shop or hotel and ask for directions or view your map there.
3. Don’t carry too much cash
Many travellers decide to withdraw large amounts of funds at one time to save on ATM fees and other withdrawal charges. If you withdraw only small amounts of money at once and misplace it or have it stolen, you will not lose as much money. It’s easier to get over losing $100 than $1000 or more.
4. Avoid walking around empty streets in the dark alone
If you are travelling solo, avoid strolling down empty streets at night time. Stick to busy areas and try to head out with a group if you don’t feel like you are in a particularly safe city or country. If you ever feel unsafe, head into a busy street or get into a registered taxi.
5. Use the right kind of bag
Try to avoid using a bag with only one strap. Many people, women especially, are victims for bag snatching if they have a purse with one should strap. In some countries, criminals will cut the strap and take your wallet and purse when you least expect it. Consider purchasing an anti-theft bag, like this one, where plenty of thought has been put into the design and creation of the bag.
6. Don't drink too much
For many travellers, drinking is a big part of the social experience. When travelling solo, avoid drinking too much in order to protect your safety. Always have your wits about you and try to head out in a group if you are going to be drinking. Safety is always better in numbers.
7. Pack light
Less is more, especially when it comes to packing a suitcase or a backpack. Lugging too many suitcases or bags around the world can not only affect you physically, but it will also test your patience. Minimize the amount of belongings you carry around the world and only take the essentials. Consider rolling your clothes into packing cubes, like these ones, to save more space.
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8. Avoid ignoring warnings about local dangers
There are hundreds of different websites online that tell you of the local dangers of each country. While some of these can be daunting, try to follow any advice given by fellow travellers, hotel and hostel owners, and your embassy or consulate. Subscribe to emails from your consulate so that you will receive any emails or texts in the case of an urgent emergency. Take warnings seriously since the world can sometimes be a dangerous place.
9. Protect your important documents
Much like using the right bag, protecting your important documents like your credit cards, passport, and driver’s license is essential. Purchase RFID blocking travel wallets, like these ones, to store your passport in so that people can’t steal your identity without you knowing.
10. Regularly check in with someone at home
While it can give you a sense of freedom to head off into the wild without really telling anyone back home of your day to day plans, try to tell at least one person where you will be each day. Using social media to tell people of your plans can help in the case of an emergency since many services now have locations built in.
11. Leave anything truly valuable at home
The more you travel, the more you realize you don’t need a lot of belongings. Whether you are going away for a week or a year, leave your valuable belongings at home where they will be safe. An exception to this would be valuables that you need like your camera, laptop, and cell phone.
12. Avoid planning everything for your trip in advance
It is tempting to book hotels, hostels, train tickets, flights, and everything else in advance, to avoid stress and hassles. However, travelling alone gives you the freedom to constantly change your plans depending on your wants and needs. Try to go with the flow and plan only a day or two in advance in order to know where you will sleep at night.
13. Don’t be afraid to say no
Travelling solo gives you the opportunity to decide what you do every second of the day. Learning so much about yourself, you always have the opportunity to say yes or no. While saying yes can be easy, don’t ever be afraid to say no. Whether you are turning down a night out, a meal at a restaurant, or a days adventure, always know that you are in charge of what you do.
14. Learn a little local language
As a solo traveller, it always helps to know a little bit of the local language. Learning basic phrases like yes, no, thank you, and please can go a long way. The more you know, the easier it will be to navigate your way through the day. Talk to locals and pick-up the basics- it’s a great way to meet people and learn at the same time.
15. Trust your instincts
Always trust your gut instincts when you travel. Especially as a solo traveller, always trust your instincts in situations. If you get a bad vibe from a person, place, or situation, simply walk away. While it can be easy to walk away from people or experiences because you feel uncomfortable, try to give people the benefit of the doubt, because as a solo traveller, you never know what you can learn!
If you feel safe and comfortable, travelling solo will likely be one of the most eye-opening experiences of your life. Not only will you learn so much about people and the world around you, you will also learn a lot about yourself. Following these tips will ensure you are prepared for your solo trip. What other tips do you have that helped your solo travels around the world?