Travelling solo can be one of the greatest things you will ever do. There is no need to follow other people’s agendas, and you can literally do anything you want to do. You can be silly and playful, hit the karaoke bar without being scrutinised, make friends with the locals and you can learn so much about yourself that you return home feeling confident, challenged and ready to take on a new adventure.
Even so, certain steps should be taken to guarantee a successful solo trip:
1. Do your research
It’s all very well hopping on to official tourism websites, but remember that these websites are designed to lure you to the destination and will often post only the rosiest of pictures. It’s important you extend your search to find out things such as safety and culture by using peer review forums. For example, TravelTalkOnline and TripAdvisor are great for answering any concerns you may have.
2. Tell others
You might not be restricted in where you want to go, but you should still notify friends and family of your itinerary and not sway from it. When travelling overseas, register yourself with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and check the website regularly for any storm/disaster updates.
As you travel, start an online blog or email friends with your location and the information of any people you may have met.
3. Pack wisely
When travelling on flights bags can easily go missing, so ensure you have a carry on that contains a full change of clothes, medication, technology and all of your identification. Split your cash and credit cards up so that if your wallet was stolen, you still have access to money.
Always carry the contact details of a family member back home and pack a first aid kit for emergencies.
4. Be cautious but not paranoid
There is no reason to spend your trip in fear, but you should still be cautious about how you present yourself. Try not to look too much like a tourist (think bumbags, flashy camera and a big Australia patch on your backpack) and refrain from wearing expensive jewellery.
When travelling or walking at night, stay in well-lit areas and stick to main roads. Walk with confidence as if you know the area well.
Watch your drinks and be creative when hiding room keys and cash while going for a swim.
5. Don’t make it widely known you are alone
Until you feel you can completely trust someone, don’t let people know that you are travelling solo. Instead, make up a lie that you’re meeting someone or that your friend is expecting you back at the room.
6. Talk to local professionals
Having a drink at the hotel bar can be a great way to find out about the local area. Bartenders are often clued up on what to do and where to go and you may even be invited out with the staff after their shift.
7. Join a tour group
There are certain places on your itinerary that may be more dangerous than others, such as mountainous terrain. You don’t want to miss these incredible sights, so join a tour group to maximise your safety. Often groups disperse afterwards and you could be left with a like-minded travel companion.
8. Become a good samaritan
Volunteering in a shelter or soup kitchen can be a great way to meet people and can give you a purpose when travelling. Even the smallest token of kindness is appreciated, and friendships formed under these circumstances often last a lifetime.
9. Look for apartment rentals
Homeowners often have a spare room they could be willing to let out, so if you are stopping somewhere for a while why not try and lease their room? Not only could it save you some money, it’s safer and you’ll get some great insider knowledge to the area as opposed to hanging out with other tourists.
10. Accept help
Solo travellers (especially women) are often seen as unfortunate and lonely and can attract sympathy from others. Say yes to invitations for a family dinner and don’t be too proud to get help loading your backpack into the overhead.