Although the thought of travelling solo may seem daunting, having no one to go with shouldn’t mean you have to miss out on seeing the wonders of the world. As camperguide.org mentions in their article, When you travel alone, you can dictate what you want to do and see without having to consider anyone else. Of course, it’s also not without its challenges either, especially if it’s your first time traveling solo
What happens if you get lonely? Can you go out at night alone? Will it be awkward eating out alone?
Don’t panic. All these worries and more plague even the most seasoned of travellers before their first solo trip, so here are some top tips to embrace becoming an independent traveller:
Use modern technology
Before you visit a country, it’s important to research their culture, language and currency, but by downloading useful apps on your phone before you go such as GPS, a language translator, a travel guide and a currency converter you’ll be able to translate when you are out and about. Here are some that I use and would recommend (free for both iOS and Andriod):
- Citymapper: This app enables you to navigate around a city, including features like real-time departure updates, cycle routes and traffic disruption alerts – it’s even more detailed than Google maps!
- Duolingo: With over 70 million people registered worldwide, this free language app is a great way to learn the basic vocabulary and phrases to have a conversation abroad.
- XE Currency: One of the best things about this app is that it can be used offline as it saves the last currency rate, so it can be used even in a place with limited service.
Don’t lose touch
Skype and WhatsApp are both totally free social tools that will allow you to stay in contact with your friends and family whilst you’re away from home – just make sure you have access to the internet otherwise you could end up with a painful bill at the end of the month!
Trust your gut
If a situation doesn’t feel right then get up and leave, your instincts are normally right!
Embrace dining alone
Whether you like the idea or not, you have to eat and trust me when I say dining alone is something that gets easier over time. Try and pick places that are local, were the waiters will help you order and they may even have communal tables. Remember to take a book with you to avoid feeling too lonely, it will also display the message that ‘I’m eating alone’ meaning people are more likely to come and talk to you.
Book organised tours
By booking onto a tour group you’ll be able to enjoy the company of others for a couple of hours, you may meet some new friends, as well as being able to relax and let someone else sort out the details.
Learn to take selfies
Although you can’t beat a good seafront view with palm trees, a golden beach and a strawberry daiquiri, you aren’t making a postcard collection so make sure you turn that lens around a few times and get yourself in the picture too. If you aren’t a great selfie take (guilty!) then why not invest in a selfie stick (yes, I said it), or just ask someone else to take the photo (although be prepared to wonky pictures with a thumb over the corner).
Learn the basics
Making the effort to learn a few basic phrases before you visit the country will help you no end, from being able to say please and thank you, to ordering a beer. People will love that you have made an effort to understand their culture, even if you can’t string a sentence together. If you are pushed for time, then download a language app (try Duolingo!) before the flight and get practising.
Use your strengths
If you are an outgoing, sociable person who enjoys meeting new people then go somewhere full of life and tourists – you won’t want to be off the beaten track for long. Vibrant cities like Rome and Budapest are ideal places to visit and enjoy a coffee in a local café. Whereas if you’re shy and a bit nervous of meeting others, try booking into a hostel, this way you’ll have the opportunity to meet people in your dorm or the communal kitchen instead of having to go up to them in the street or a café and strike up a conversation.
Remember to be open to new experiences, meeting new people and being warm, friendly and always smile – it’s the best universal greeting!
Image sourced Flickr
Bio: Meg-Faye is a prolific writer, working for Milton Executive Cars, who often blogs about all the different countries and adventure she’s experienced. When she isn’t travelling, she is completing her second degree and learning Russian in the evenings.