Travelling is a concept that appeals to many of us, regardless of where we come from. Travelling solo, on the other hand, is widely misconstrued as the perfect recipe for loneliness, and boredom.
Despite the constant chatter about the myths and dangers of being alone and away from home, the trend of solo travel, is slowly picking up in our part of the world – especially among the millennials. Stories of solo travellers across the world who meet with exhilaration and uninhibited freedom are motivation enough to get the thrill-seekers and risk-takers of today to pack their bags and get going on a life-altering adventure.
Embarking on a solo trip will get you plenty of advice, much of it unsolicited, most likely to make you rethink your globetrotting dreams. Rather than letting misconceptions deter your plans, read up and prepare for the unexpected before setting off on your big adventure!
BEFORE YOU LEAVE
- Visit a place close to home if you haven’t travelled alone before. Gradually breaking in to the solo travel lifestyle will make it a lot less terrifying for first-timers.
- Share your flight details, hotel reservations, and local contact details with a close friend of family member to ensure that they can track you down in case something were to go wrong.
- Scan copies of all your travel documents, IDs, ticket numbers, etc., and email them to yourself or back them up on Google Drive or DropBox for easy access anywhere.
- Don’t assume that your phone will work. Sign up for a pre-paid local sim card or an international package if you plan on traveling overseas.
- Avoid arriving at strange airports or stations late at night. Alternatively, opt for hotel pick up services if you do arrive at your destination at odd hours.
- Track your cab via Google Maps to know if you’re going off route. Also, it’s safer to use call taxi services rather than flagging them down in the street, especially if you’re alone.
- When taking the train, avoid sleeping in empty compartments. You’re safer sharing a compartment with a family.
- Dress like a local or a long-term expat to avoid unwanted attention. Tourists are often easy targets for pickpockets and swindlers.
- Always carry a travel-sized first aid kit with Band-Aids, pain killers, anti-histamines, mosquito repellents and anti-rash ointments.
- Keep a note of any hospital or 24-hour clinic nearest to your hotel or guesthouse for serious medical emergencies.
- If you’re listening to music, avoid wearing both headphones. This way, you’ll be more alert with what’s going around you.
- Local acquaintances will help you figure out ways to get around in the area and places to avoid if you’re alone.
ALONE DOES NOT MEAN LONELY
- Discover interesting places that are hidden away from tourists by getting to know local service people such as store clerks, hotel staff, taxi drivers and servers. They usually have the inside scoop on things to do that travel blogs and brochures won’t tell you about.
- Sign up for group walking tours, safaris, special-interest trips and group expeditions, which tend to have a high percentage of solo travellers. Befriending like-minded tourists and locals is a part of the experience.
- Gastronomically adventurous but afraid of eating alone? A book is the perfect café companion. Additionally, websites and apps such as Yelp and Zomato will help you discover restaurants and cafeterias with communal tables for single travellers like you!
The decision to take a trip alone, locally or internationally, is a choice that every person should make at least once in their lifetime. Stepping out of our sheltered lives and voluntarily signing up for a tryst with independence can be as exciting as it can be daunting. However, whether you’re a sophomore in college or whether you’re grey and well into your 70s, very few experiences can match up to the way travelling can – it changes you for the better.
Written by Lynn Verghese for JenJon Retail & Services Pvt. Ltd. Images used in this post are taken under the Creative Commons Licenses.