Travel tips

To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the most pleasant sensations in the world. You are surrounded by adventure.

Freya Stark

Tips for solo travellers

Travelling alone can be one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences in life. Exploring different countries, discovering interesting cultures, meeting new people, finding space and going your own way, wherever and whenever you want, can be incredibly liberating and enriching. To set off alone can be a scary and intimidating prospect, but there is no reason that solo travellers can’t enjoy their travels, and stay safe. I’ve put together a list of tips, developed over many years and lessons learned….

1. Do some research before you go – ‘Forewarned is forearmed’

  • Culture
    1. Dress code such as dressing modestly, wearing a headscarf etc  This may be particular to certain buildings such as temples or mosques, certain areas or, in some cases, whole countries
    2. Eating and drinking etiquette such as certain prohibited items like alcohol, beef or pork. Make sure you know the rules as it may be illegal to enter countries with certain food items in your possession
  • Neighbourhoods
    1. Know where the dodgy parts of town are and if you have to go there for any reason, don’t leave it late in the day, make sure you’re out of there before dark
    2. Know where you are at all times so you don’t wander into an unsavoury area by accident
  • Transportation
  1. Use public transportation as much as possible where its safe and reliable
  2. Get recommendations for good taxi companies and where they have a meter always make sure they switch it on.  If they refuse, get out and hail a different cab

2. Keep a small pouch of important items somewhere on your person at all times

Don’t put it in any luggage which might go into the hold of a plane, coach or train!! Include the following items…

  • Passport
  • Credit cards
  • Money
  • Emergency telephone numbers
  • Travel insurance document

3. Photocopy your passport and credit cards

  • Keep spare copies in different places
  • Make an electronic note of passport details and a photo of your passport
  • Keep an electronic, password protected copy of credit card details plus emergency numbers in case of loss or theft
  • If you must keep a paper copy of such details, do so in a way that only you can identify the cards

4. Have an emergency stash of cash

$100 dollars which can easily be exchanged at any Western Union anywhere or used to get you out of trouble

5. Don’t trust immediately

Keep an open and friendly demeanour but don’t give your trust away too quickly or easily.  Trust yourself and your own instincts before trusting anyone else. Once you feel comfortable, you can allow yourself to develop friendships across cultures and accept invitations to have some truly unique and positive experiences.

6. Don’t put yourself in a vulnerable position

It may seem obvious but there are times when you may accidentally find yourself in a tricky spot which could have been avoided

  • When going on any organized day trips, check that you’ll be part of a group, especially if the trip is to somewhere a little remote
  • If you’re travelling by bus or train, know the stop you need to get off
  • Make sure you don’t miss last trains/buses etc or miss any accommodation curfews
  • If you feel uncomfortable, make your excuses and leave
  • Have a ring handy to wear on your wedding finger when necessary.  It can help to put off unwanted approaches

7. Don’t drink too much

It may be tempting to go with the flow and join the party, but remember to exercise a little self control while you’re having fun, especially if you’re among people you don’t know yet.  You are your own guardian, so remain alert and conscious at all times.

8. Be confident

Even if you don’t feel it, at least have an air of confidence and never look as if you don’t know where you are or where you’re going.  If you must consult a map, do so discreetly or pop into a cafe and sit, planning your onward route over a coffee

9. Share your travel plans

Discuss your plans with someone you trust and keep them posted. How detailed and how regularly will vary but it can be a very reassuring feeling that someone who cares about you knows of your whereabouts in the world

10. Don’t let people put you off travelling alone

Travelling alone can be one of the most rewarding, enriching experiences in life and can teach you much about yourself as well as improving your self esteem, confidence and resilience

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