Travelling alone can be daunting but a little prep and a lot of common sense will ensure it’s the ‘spiritual awakening’ solo expeditions are meant to offer
1 Take the plunge
Committing to a solo trip is always riddled with fear and apprehension. Yet, it’s important to know there is no ‘perfect’ time or situation in which to do it. Half the fun comes from just taking the plunge and learning things along the way. Curiosity, instincts and prior preparation are the only guides needed.
2 Understand the culture
When it comes to preparation, it’s best to have a solid understanding of the cultural practices and customs of the places that will be visited. Do some research by skimming through historical facts, current events, modes of dress and the behaviours of locals. Being familiar with social cues such as greetings, hand gestures, prayer and eating norms will help with non-verbal communication, particularly when language barriers are an obstacle. And locals always appreciate when foreign visitors make an effort to understand their way of life — it’s a sign of respect and may even encourage them to offer a helping hand where needed.
3 Get emergency info
Where safety is concerned, it is always a good idea to keep a list of emergency contact details on hand. Search for the numbers of crime and medical responders of the destination and ensure there is access to them at all times. Keep a written list in addition to any contacts saved to a mobile device, which could get lost or stolen. And always ensure family and friends are able to reach you in an emergency.
4 Back up important documents
Passports, visas and insurance cards go missing as easily as cash and bank cards. Ensuring photographs or back-ups of these documents are stored on a mobile device or in the cloud so they can be accessed easily is a smart precautionary measure.
5 Join a group
A solo trip doesn’t have to be a lonely trip! Being alone provides an incentive to get to know other travellers or even the locals, and can be an encouraging factor to build relationships with other people. The easiest way to do this is to partake in group activities. Sign up for a free walking tour, take a class on something unique to the destination, such as cooking or dance, or stay in a hostel, which provides camaraderie and a strong social element.
6 Ask for local recommendations
When travelling alone, it’s an opportune time to discover a place through the eyes of a local instead of just the cookie-cutter tourist version everyone experiences. Ask around for recommendations of unique places and activities that may be a little out of the usual tourist hot spots but are frequented by locals. It will provide a glimpse into the everyday lives of the people who call it home.