The world is such an extraordinary place that it’s no wonder that we’re frequently travelling, experiencing new cultures and meeting new people. While most of us choose to travel in a group, solo travel is actually one of the best ways to really experience a different way of life. Not to mention the fact that it’s actually rather nice to have some time on your own.
But travelling alone can be a truly daunting prospect. Facing problems on your own, becoming lost in unfamiliar territory, and experiencing problems posed by language barriers can put most people off travelling unaccompanied. The reality is that taking a few simple steps when you plan your trip can alleviate most of those worries and allow you to have last minute solo holidays wherever you want to go.
It goes without saying that it’s not a great idea to wander into dangerous areas on your own, whether the threat is a gang-fight in the Bronx, or a few unexploded mines in rural Cambodia. Always consider your surroundings and your intended destination, and evaluate how safe it is for you to travel there. If you’re not quite sure, you can always hire a guide, or re-route your plans a little. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Just because you’re on your own, doesn’t mean you have to live like a hermit for the duration of your trip. In fact, getting to know the locals can often be the difference between experiencing local culture, and just looking in from the outside. In the Western world, try hooking up on social networking sites, looking for clubs and groups that have interests similar to yours. If you’re travelling through somewhere a little more remote, like the Masai Mara, make an effort to meet the locals when you pass through their villages. Getting to know the natives is the ideal way to immerse yourself into the local culture, not to mention that you might get a free meal or bed for the night.
Part of staying safe is about letting people know where you are and when, but it’s hard to manage this without feeling as if your nomadic tendencies are being a little stifled. The best way to keep in touch without acting as if you’re on an itinerary is through the use of Social Media outlets like Facebook. Checking in to places lets people see when you’ve arrived, and tagging yourself in photo’s gives people a great reference point, as well as letting them see what a great time you’re having. It’s nice for a solo traveller to know that if they get lost halfway through walking holidays in the Australian outback, their friends know where to start looking thanks to that last picture of a weathered signpost left on FB!
Money, Money, Money
Let’s face it, money is always an issue when you travel, and it can be particularly hard to budget when you’re wandering without set plans. Actually, travelling solo can be a great way to save some cash, because you can spend or save without worrying about someone else’s opinion. Solo travellers on a really tight budget can find it easier to get a part time job on the road, whether it’s fruit picking or dish washing in a local restaurant, but remember that when you are carrying cash, you’ll need to take extra care of it because you’re the only one looking out for your safety.