Travelling solo can seem a bit daunting, even to those of us who love the freedom and adventure it brings. If you have a few bucket-list trips up your sleeve, however, and are planning to set out independently, there are a few tips that will help you along the way. Packing light is one, and leaving copies of your passport and bank cards with someone back home is another. A little forward research is useful too. Check out the handy survival guides at 1Cover for even more advice.
1) Find the street stalls
Award-winning travel writer Ben Groundwater recommends heading for street stalls, such as the hawker stalls in Singapore, where you can enjoy amazing dishes at incredibly affordable prices. What’s more, the shared tables of street stalls are perfect if you are on your own; you just pull up a stool and eat with the locals and fellow travellers.
2) Solo-friendly accommodation
Look out for places to stay that are sociable. Hostels are an ideal choice, and offer opportunities to mingle with other travellers, but also small hotels, B&Bs, pubs and inns tend to offer more personal, friendly service, as well as handy tips and advice. Camping grounds can also be a great option, with plenty of community feeling. It’s a good idea to stay away from the larger hotels, which can sometimes feel a bit more formal and charge single supplements.
3) Get multi-trip insurance
Not necessarily the fun part of travelling – who likes buying something they hope they won’t need? – but proper travel insurance is essential for peace of mind and potentially digging you out of an unforeseen hole. Imagine how stuck you could be if you woke up one morning to find your passport, money and phone had gone missing. The world would suddenly feel like a very hostile place. Find yourself an annual multi-trip policy, and travel with protection.
4) Stay safe
Travelling solo can easily increase your vulnerability. Get smart and protect yourself. Ditch the bulging bum bag, or obvious travel wallet, which shows the world where you are keeping your valuables. Be aware of who’s around you when you stop in the street to look at a map or your phone, remember that some people who approach you to “practise their English” may have other less friendly motives in mind.
Access all areas. Some of the top travel experiences in the world require a cruise. Think of the unique wildlife of the Galapagos Islands, located some 1,000km off the coast of Ecuador. Or the awe-inspiring frozen landmass of Antarctica. Even parts of remote Western Australia, such as the beautiful, rugged Kimberley region, are best experienced on a small cruise ship. And cruising is a great fit for solo travellers. Join the more than 2 million UK and Irish travellers that have discovered the benefits of cruising.
6) Stay in touch
We all like to travel to get away from it all, and lots of us who choose to travel alone do so just for that very reason. But we also need to know we can get in touch when we want to. And it needn’t cost a fortune in data or excess mobile phone charges, either. Look out for free WiFi in cafes, bars and restaurants, download free phone apps such as Skype, and social media apps that let you call friends, such as WhatsApp. And find a phone plan that is tailored for travel in the parts of the world you plan to visit.
What are your top tips for travelling solo? I’d love to hear them!