Don’t mistake solo travellers for lonesome wanderers. These guys are the happiest of us all, eager to explore new lands and make new friends all on their own. Solo travel has become very popular since the last decade or so; remember how much fun it looked like in Bollywood flick Queen? Yes, solo travel is definitely fun, but if you’re doing it for the first time, you need to be a little more careful than usual.
Keep these tips in mind to have a safe and successful solo trip:
1. Stay connected
Sure, you’re excited about the new place and can’t wait to explore it all by yourself. However, at all points throughout your journey (from boarding the flight, to transits and layovers, to landing and reaching your hotel and even afterwards) you should be in touch with a friend or relative. Do carry a small slip with your details like your name and mobile number, and hotel name and number, along with the name and number of the person who can be contacted during an emergency.
2. Don’t ask the locals, rely on GPS and maps
Now this sounds like a no-brainer, but many of us travellers often ignore it and wander around without asking for directions. That could lead you to getting lost and waste your time and money especially if you’re not familiar with the city or town. Moreover, you can’t always be sure that the locals have given you the right directions! As Ankit Khanna, 32-year-old employee with Bharti Airtel recalls about his solo trip to Wembley, UK, “Every time I asked anyone the directions to some place, they would say: just walk down the lane for five minutes and you will get there. After which I had to cover around 2km which easily took 30 minutes of my time that too with a suitcase in hand! I should have trusted my GPS.”
Also use Google translator when required. It comes in handy as your reliable friend when required.
3. Use apps to make the most of your time there
Everybody is aware of touristy locations and hotels when they travel. But if you really want to make the best of your time and money on your holiday, plan ahead with the use of these apps:
Party With a Local – helps you get in touch with locals who will enlighten you about the current party scene.
Travel Buddies – helps you see itineraries of other solo travellers and gives you ideas about your own.
Backpackr – helps you track activities undertaken by solo travellers whether they are partying, drinking or trekking. And you may contact them to join them too.
Hostelworld – helps you find cheap accommodation at reliable hostels.
Meetup – helps you plan your solo trip with other travellers from other parts of the world, so you’re not really alone throughout the trip!
4. Manage trust issues
Don’t trust anyone and everyone you meet. Be cautious and judge people well. You are ecstatic about this journey and looking forward to making new friends, but use caution at all times. The world is a mix of people; we hope that you don’t encounter bad ones.
5. Carry snacks and water
When you’re exploring a new place and doing a lot of sightseeing you will obviously need to eat and drink, but many times, the snacks and packaged water turn out to be too expensive or you simply don’t like the taste! It’s wise to carry trail mix or some light snack and your own bottle of water (you can fill water from your hotel room tap too, as the water is potable in many countries).
Also, don’t experiment much with foods outside unless you have an excellent intestine.
6. Go easy on the booze
We can’t stress on this one enough! Yes you’re alone and there’s nobody to tell you to stop or better still, you’ve met new friends and they urge you to have ‘the time of your life’. But before you even step out, set a drinking limit for yourself because let’s be honest, if you get drunk, chances are, nobody will care and you might end up in trouble. Another advice, do not drink on an empty stomach, remember to eat. After all, you alone are responsible for your health and safety. Better safe than sorry!
7. Avoid big bags
You don’t want to worry about heavy luggage or a bulky handbag when you’re travelling alone. Curb your urge to pack everything under the sun, and travel light. Fill your backpack only with what’s really necessary. Also when you go sightseeing, carry a small bag with all important stuff in it, including your travel documents, cash, phone, passport, water–and that’s it! Young solo traveller Roohi, a college student, shares, “Do carry a travel backpack. Make sure to carry at least one change of clothes according to the weather, and all essentials in it. A backpack is like your friend during solo trips.” She adds, “I (did a solo trip) to new Zealand and joined a group tour there. It was great fun, as I made new friends”.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Go solo travelling, get out of your inhibitions and insecurities. As Ankit puts it, “The small little things like absence of an alarm clock, spending the whole day as per your will, and eating dessert in all three meals of the day will make you see life from a completely different angle!”
Travelling alone can be fun and gives you that moment of self discovery. When there will be no one to ask you why you are sitting at the beach since morning, why you are at the mall shopping till late or why you are sipping coffee every hour, you will definitely have time and mind to rediscover and rejuvenate yourself. And why not, after all you only live once – YOLO!
Image Credit: Nikhil Mudaliar