Travelling solo for the first time can be exciting and daunting for anyone. It’s normal to have a number of questions before setting off: Will I be safe? What will happen if I get lost? Who will take scenic photos of me staring off into the distance at sunset? Fortunately, we’ve put together some key points including safety advice and embracing your own company, so you can relax and focus on roaming the planet…
Good research, planning and organization before you set off is key. If you’re safe in the knowledge that the start of your trip is mapped out, your confidence will soon begin to grow. Ensure your first night’s stay at the very least, is arranged in advance. Arriving at an unfamiliar airport will be a lot less daunting if you know that you have somewhere to go for the night. Don’t be afraid to plan out your first couple of days too as this will give you more time to ground yourself. Your big adventure can still have plenty of spontaneity, but the initial planning will at least give you some comforting breathing space, to begin with.
Smile and look confident…even if you’re not
Learning to look confident while exploring your destination can go a long way in keeping you safe and, in turn, help build your confidence at the same time. Walk tall and purposefully. Avoid walking down the road with a guidebook in hand as this won’t help you to blend in. If you find yourself lost, keep walking until you get to a safe space, like a café, where you can stop to look at a map. Asking in shops or stopping locals for directions is also a great way of gaining self-esteem and source useful tips at the same time. Take some time to learn a few phases (or more) of the language before you set off which will also make getting around even easier.
Embrace your own company
As a solo traveller, it’s normal to experience loneliness, but this can easily be controlled or avoided. Keep yourself busy exploring, keep your mind fixed on the exciting place you’re visiting, rather than the fact you’re on your own. Pack your days with activities, to avoid walking around aimlessly as this is when loneliness and boredom can often creep in.
Loneliness tends to emerge at night. It can be tempting to have an early dinner and retreat to your room. Instead, go to the theatre, a local entertainment venue or watch the world go by in a local bar.
Group tours are a great way to meet other fellow travellers. Sign up so you have people around you to chat, share stories and travel tips with. A sudden human interaction boost can make the world of difference when you’re on your own.
Don’t take risks
The risks may be low but when you’re travelling solo it’s always wise to stay cautious. Leave flashy jewellery at home and try and dress as similarly to the locals as possible. Blending in will do you huge favours in preventing the wrong kind of attention.
It’s also a wise idea to put together a list of important phone numbers written on paper – not your phone – including the nearest British embassy, local emergency services and your hotel. This becomes more important the further off the beaten track you go.
Stay in well-lit areas at night and plan to arrive at your destination in the daylight or plan transport in advance – and most importantly, trust your intuition, if a situation doesn’t feel right, leave.