10 HOT tips for travellers Ridin’ Solo

13/10/2015 at 3:47pm
Categories: Travel News

When I think about the expression ‘solo travel’ this quote comes to mind "Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and enjoy the journey.” – Babs Hoffman...

Deciding to travel on your own for the first time can be extremely overwhelming, for some the realization of not finding the right travel companion or agreeing on what you both want out of the holiday can be hard to comprehend. It’s normal to have doubts, freak out before you leave, assume the worst or have your parents freak out more than you (this has happened to me before). My advice: don’t bail - stick it out! It will be completely normal to have these mixed emotions and feelings but trust me, things will get better and you’ll thank yourself for it later by not getting back on that plane.

Therapeutic - If I could sum up solo travel in one word that would be it. It gives one a sense of empowerment, courage and self-confidence you never thought had in you, the liberty to do what you want, when you want without having to please others. You’ll make more friends (opposed to traveling with someone else), be more outgoing, spontaneous and open minded to trying new things. There’s no doubt that traveling on your own isn’t easy and it will have it’s ups and downs, your good and not so good days, but isn’t that all part of the journey? Someone once told me, there’s always a positive from a negative, so don’t let the bad out weigh the good! Here are a few tips I’ve complied from my travels with the help of friends and clients feedback on traveling solo:  

1.    Avoid looking like a tourist – The first thing that comes to mind: bum bags aka fanny packs/waist pack/butt packs/satchels, or whatever it is they’re called. They’re probably one of the worst things ever invented and I don’t really need to explain why. The trick is to blend in when traveling abroad. Try to dress like the locals because if you stand out too much you’ll make yourself an easy target for thieves. Bear in mind when traveling to some counties you need to be respectful of their culture and religion as you might offend locals.  Back to the bum bags, safety should always be the highest priority when traveling and its easy getting caught up with all the excitement of your day, but always be aware of your surroundings and keep your valuables safe and close by you. Go Travel Products have a wide variety of travel savvy products including shoulder wallets and money belts designed to wear underneath your clothing. It not only avoids drawing attention to yourself but it’s also a much safer way of keeping your money close by on you. Remember to NEVER leave your belongings with a complete stranger and always keep your valuables on you at all times.

2.    Make copies, keep in touch – Before leaving the country take photo copies of your passport, itineraries and other important information for yourself and leave copies with family or friends, that way they can keep track of your steps in case of an emergency. Even ask for emailed/electronic copies to keep on you just in case. A great way of keeping in touch is purchasing a TravelSim phone card, they work as a pre-paid phone card and you just purchase credit blocks to top up when needed. Another cheap way of keeping in touch is through Facebook, remember to turn off your cellular data before leaving the country so you don’t incur additional data charges and look out for free Wi-Fi where you’re staying or at local restaurants/cafes.

3.    BUY TRAVEL INSURANCE – I cannot stress this point enough; travel insurance is by far the most essential part of your entire trip! Ideally it should be purchased the moment you book your flights as you’re covered from then on. Prior to purchasing your travel insurance, if you were to walk outside after booking your holiday and injure yourself, you’ll be fully covered for all your travel expenses. If you were to fall ill, or be involved in an accident overseas, you (or your family) are personally responsible for covering any medical costs if you’re not insured. The Australian Government will not pay for your medical costs or evacuations – imagine how much that would come to? Travel insurance not only covers you for medical expenses, but for cancellations/disruptions, theft of valuable items, damages to property and more. Don’t be the fool who didn’t take out travel insurance!

4.    Register at Smartraveller  - Smarttraveller has everything – you can register your travel plans so the Australian Government can assist you or your family back home in case of a natural disaster or terrorist attack, Subscribe for travel updates, advice and information. It also provides 24 hour emergency consular assist contacts and more.  A great tool for all travelers from novice to the more experienced.  

5.    Be open minded – I’ve always believed everything happens for a reason and some experiences will be a once in a lifetime opportunity so take everything in your stride and always make decisions for yourself. The beauty of traveling on your own is if you’re open to trying new things and you don’t like it, then you know not to try it again. If you make your way to a country and you don’t like it either, then you can leave, or if you love it then stay longer. Remember that other people’s experiences or viewpoints shouldn’t affect yours. If a friend or family member didn’t like something in particular, it doesn’t mean you won’t either. Someone once told me that Venice is dirty and all you do is go on a Gondola ride, so I was going there with the expectation of not enjoying it but it was the complete opposite for me, I didn’t want to leave! Always remember with regards to your safety however, if it doesn’t look right or feel right, then it probably isn’t.

6.    Meet friends along the way – Although traveling on your own is liberating, it’s always fun to share experiences with friends. A great way to meet people is by staying in hostels. You can choose from twin share, 4 – 6 dorm and same sex dorms if that makes you more comfortable, plus they’re cheap.  Hostels these days aren’t associated as dirty, over crowed and un-safe like they used to be. They’re definitely the way to go with traveling on your own. By meeting friends as well, they’ll offer great travel tips and even suggestions on where’s great to head on your travel journey! A friend of mine also recommended free walking tours, they’re perfect for tourists and locals and run by local guides, so they have great knowledge and passion about the local area.

7.    Be mindful of your money - If you’re planning a long holiday, don’t blow all your savings within the first few weeks. Set yourself a budget and try to stick to it as best as possible. Every country will be different and some are cheaper than others. But for some counties that are a bit more westernized, try to aim for AUD$100 per day for food and transportation. You’ll find some days you’ll spend less than that but it will give you a rough idea on what to budget for. Why not apply for a working holiday visa? As solo travel is the growing mode of holidaying within the 21st century, it’s becoming more popular for work and travel – a great way to make your journey an enRICHing experience.

8.    Have a back up plan – Unfortunately not everything does go to plan, whether its money issues or something unforeseen occurs, or you need to pull the pin on what was an awesome idea. Make sure you can easily make adjustments or have a plan B. Always try to keep some extra money saved in case you need to travel home unexpectedly.

9.    It’s OK to be homesick – Especially if it’s your first time traveling, whether you’re feeling lonely, missing your family and familiar surroundings. It can be tough to comprehend, but the main focus is to stay positive.  Limit the amount of time you spend on Facebook and Instagram as it will only grow to the feeling more. Try to get out and about. Embrace the term "do what the locals do” rather wasting valuable time on social media. Culture shock is something most travelers will experience and can hinder your enjoyment. However it is important to learn how to understand and cope with the shock and take steps to better understand for yourself. Be open minded, learn a bit of the local language and get to know some people around you if that helps.

10. Do some research – It’s always important to try to plan ahead. Do some research on where you’re traveling to gain as much knowledge as possible, what to expect when arriving and things to see and do. Better yet, why not ask a local travel agent for some help before you go or along the way?

Remember don’t be afraid to give things a go on your own, especially when it comes to traveling. One of my favourite travel inspiration quotes from James Michener is:  "If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” The world is your oyster, you’ll learn more about yourself than ever before and guarantee it will help shape you to be the person you are today for it. So what are you waiting for? Get planning and start packing!


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