8 Top tips for travelling the world alone
Having grown up in the ghetto in Bankhead, East Atlanta, it was hard getting by. And there was simply no room for luxuries like travel at the time. However, every night before retiring to bed, I would discreetly browse my dog-eared copy of a hoary National Geographic Traveler edition using a flashlight.
I was raving for a chance to explore the world to see all the gorgeous places and experience all this mystic first hand.
I worked hard at odd jobs, saved every penny I earned and vowed to have enough to take my first solo trip at 18, and I have since never looked back. For most people, travelling the world alone is considered the bravest or most insane idea, and there is rarely an in-between.
However, if you do your research and plan accordingly, then a solo trip might be just the thing to help you find yourself instead of losing your flare out in a crowd.
Here are some pros to solo travel;
- You can easily make friends and make adjustments to your itinerary to accommodate new interests without wreaking havoc on others.
- There is a self-pride in making a solo trip. And you are aware of your surroundings while learning to be self-sufficient in any situation – the essential life skill of all
- Freedom is a great motivation, especially for young adults
However, solo travel is not all rainbows and cupcakes, as it can be pretty challenging to get the right rhythm.
There are some daunting challenges faced when traveling alone, and they include;
- It can get lonely at times, especially for long itineraries
- You may feel less safe being alone, and don’t have someone to bounce ideas off
- The costs are of course not spread across anyone else, so you have to be extra cost sensitive
Don’t forget, you can start planning your solo trip using our Expedition Planner, and share this with your relatives in advance! In light of the above information, we have drafted a few tips on how best you can maximise your solo trip, and they include;
Tip 1 for travelling the world alone: Safety first
Safety is vital whether you intend to take a luxury trip for surf and sun or go into the Amazon rain forests. Research the weather and pack appropriate clothing for the season, a topographical map to help with navigation, and a GPS-enabled device for communication if you are venturing into a remote location without a cellular network, you should always consider proper communication devices, like a BGAN.
Solo travellers have to be much more self-sufficient than a group whose different abilities complement each other. Also, it can never hurt to pick up a few self-defence moves just in case you ever run into ill-intentioned people.
Tip 2 for travelling the world alone: Do your due diligence
While there is a thrill to winging it, you should never simply up and leave. Instead, take some time to research the destination you intend to visit. Learn a few common phrases such as greetings, courteous gestures, and how to ask for directions.
Also, learn what is socially acceptable as conduct instead of being caught off guard and sticking out like a sore thumb. It’s also prudent to make sure you’re up to speed on any local laws, the roads and public transport availability.
Tip 3 for travelling the world alone: Take lots of pictures
On my recent trip to Patagonia, I decided to take the eight-day long hike on the “O” trail in Torres del Paine; I often drifted off-course and had to backtrack with the help of all the pictures I was taking at every trail change.
That helped me to navigate better and not lose precious time. You can use this little trick if you are taking a tour of a new city or whichever destination you are – pick critical landmarks to help you mark your progress along the way.
Tip 4 for travelling the world alone: Keep an identification card on your person at all times
As a tourist, you will often have to identify yourself to qualify for special tourist discounts at restaurants and museums or get out of a misunderstanding with the lawmakers. Also, if you have any health complications that require close monitoring, carry on your person some medical information showing emergency help procedures concerning your condition or allergies and how to alleviate them.
Tip 5 for travelling the world alone: Book accommodations in advance (where possible)
Nothing hits hard like arriving at a place in the dead of night only to discover that all the hotels are overbooked. The fatigue you already feel, in addition to the terror of knowing that you might spend the night out on the street in an unfamiliar city, is daunting.
To avoid such horrific experiences, always book ahead and favor hotels or hostels with 24-hour service so that even if you do arrive at an inconvenient hour, there is a clerk to receive you. This might not seem the wildest advice, but it’s especially important in big cities where there won’t be any places to wild camp.
Tip 6 for travelling the world along: Communicate with relatives often and share your itinerary
Solo travellers usually tend to be a target for con artists, scammers, or the usual theft. This operation might be easier to accomplish if no one knows about your travel plans, or where you’re supposed to me. To avoid “going easy,” leave a copy of your itinerary with a trusted friend or family member and keep in close contact with them throughout your trip.
You don’t even need to do this before the you leave, but simply send ahead your next few days plans home and when you’ll next check in. We’ve all seen 127 hours with with James Franco and how bad it can get – let’s not take any risks there!
Give regular updates about your progress and any possible additions to the itinerary. Some countries have a traveler follow-up program to ensure the safety of their citizens. For example, US citizens can enrole in the Smart Traveler Enrolement Program to readily receive help from the state department if they find themselves in an unsafe situation.
Tip 7 for travelling the world alone: Get travel insurance
No matter how observant you try to be throughout your trip, calamity always possible. Whether from trying out new food that doesn’t agree with you or getting mugged on the subway. Get travel insurance to cover any losses to property and also cover emergency medical bills.
We can’t stress how important this is, it might not be as Gung-ho as you’d like but I can assure you, the last laugh is not had by the person in a hospital bed with no insurance.
Tip 8 for travelling the world alone: Don’t carry loads of cash
It’s said that tourists are clueless and easy to exploit because they walk around with loads of cash – don’t be that guy. Instead, get your money changed and keep just enough in small denominations of the local currencies to pay for rides or small purchases. For more significant procurements, use a visa card or credit card if acceptable in the destination country.
This might seem like common sense, and that’s because it is. The world generally is much safer than people expect, so this tip isn’t to promote fear at all… more to promote good practice. If you’re carrying a wad of cash in your bag, and your bag gets lost then you’ve done your self a disservice. Instead, if you need to carry cash, then keep it in smaller bundles and in different places to mitigate the risk of losing it all if a single bag goes missing.