13 tips for solo travellers
1. Bonjour, merci, sil vous plait…
Learn very basic language of the country you’re going to, to get by, at the least you should learn hello, goodbye, thank you and please. It’s also respectful.
2. Bunk up
Look for hostels, they’re ready-made for solo’ers and you’re likely to meet a lot of like-minded people, also you may meet people you might like to travel with, or at least sections of the way with. They’re not always the most glamorous of places but they sure are sociable. If you’d prefer to rub shoulders with the locals then try a home-stay.
3. It’s okay to say no
You don’t have to do every activity you pass, you don’t have to make friends with everyone you meet, you don’t have to drink on a night out if you don’t want to and you don’t have to say yes to a free bike ride home if you don’t want to. It’s okay to say no, politely and sternly, learn it in the language of the place you’re in, so the locals know exactly what you mean.
4. But also, say yes as much as possible
This is different, say yes to a BBQ on the beach with your hostel buddies, say yes to a bungee jump that scares you a little – although it sounds cringey these are the moments and memories you won’t forget.
5. Have a helpline to hand
Whichever country you’re in, make sure you have the numbers of the local emergency services, hopefully you won’t ever need to use them but if you do it good to have them to hand. Take a note of the local tourist office too.
6. Check TripAdvisor
If you want a recommendation for an excursion, local restaurant or good bar in a place you’re not familiar with, TripAdvisor is your man. You’re more likely to find a hidden gem off the beaten track.. with a track record by using this recommendation site.
7. Get involved
Make sure you try native cuisines, get involved with cultural activities and make friends with locals. Don’t come back from India having not tried proper Indian food, or visit Turkey and not try a traditional Turkish kebab.
8. Don’t be an idiot
Don’t take unnecessary risks. Traveling by yourself can be hugely rewarding and refreshing but be mindful of all the things you might at home; watch your drinks, be careful in large cities at night, be wary of local scams and keep a hold of your valuables.
9. Plan a little
It’s good to have a vague plan, so that when you step off a plane, bus or train you have a definitive location to head to, then you can figure it out from there. It’s always good to have a rough route mapped out because before you go you might need to get visas (click here for more details on where for) or jabs, depending on where you’re going (click here to find out which jabs you need for what).
10. Be curious
Ask questions, be inquisitive, talk to people and ask them about their lives. In turn, open up, start conversations and learn from others – you never know who you might meet and what stories they have.
11. Eyes up
Take you phone everywhere, sure, for safety reasons not to check social media. Don’t post about everything you see and do, keep some memories for yourself. If you’re head is buried in your phone the whole time you may as well have stayed at home.
12. Pack light
Don’t under prepare but also don’t stuff your case, backpack or bag to the gills, the bigger and heavier it is the less you’ll want to explore with it on your back. Also, you’ll want to leave room to bring home fun things you find on your travels. For a checklist of everything you should have before you go click here.
13. Homecoming Queen (…or King)
You can (almost) always come home, it’s only a plane, train or bus ride away. Don’t get bogged down so much so that you’re miserable and don’t feel like you can come back. You might find out solo traveling isn’t for you – it’s not for everyone – so don’t be afraid to hold your hands up and say it, at least you gave it a go.