I’ve been travelling by myself for years now but it wasn’t always easy. I’m what my friends and family call me, navigationally inept. There are many rewards for travelling by yourself but at the same time, there can be some negative consequences. However, once you have a plan for your journey, it’s smooth sailing from there (hopefully). Here are some useful tips for travellers that won’t have the company of others to rely on.
1. Know where you are going.
I always have a plan (either written or mental) of my day. It’s important to know where you need to be when you need to be there. If you’re using public transport, search up with a specific bus, train, coach, etc. you need to get. Not only does it save you time and worry, you are less likely to be noticed as a tourist which is useful as some people like to target tourists. Additionally, it’s important to have a backup plan in case something goes wrong. Wherever you are, grab a map and familiarise yourself with the area you’re in.
2. Be aware.
Many people will tell you that by travelling solo, you’re more at risk from people with no so good intentions. You won’t have others looking out for you so you must be aware of your surroundings at all times. Stay away from dimly lit streets at night, don’t walk around with your earphones in, use a bag that can’t be easily opened, etc. This is good to practice even if you are travelling in a group. Although the majority of people are genuinely friendly, be careful of what information you tell strangers. Don’t tell them where you’re staying or even that you’re travelling alone. You can always use the excuse that you’re meeting with a friend that lives in the country, anything to stop them believing that you’re vulnerable.
3. Join a group tour.
If you are wary about travelling by yourself, you can always join a group tour. My friend and I did the same when we were travelling around Europe. Not only did it provide security but transport and food was sorted out for us. If this doesn’t take your fancy, you can join a sightseeing group for just a day. Even if you do join a group tour, you will be given a lot of free time so you can focus on yourself. A downfall with group tours is that it’s likely you will only visit the most well-known attractions which is not great if you like exploring beneath the surface of a country.
4. Don’t look like a tourist.
I’ve already mentioned this but it might be to your advantage to make yourself seem less like a tourist. Although this isn’t always the case swindlers are more likely to target tourists. There are several ways to secure yourself such as not waving a map around which literally screams ‘I’m a tourist!’. Even if it’s obvious you’re not a local, people are likely to leave you alone if you look like you know what you’re doing. So even if you are lost, don’t show it. Calm yourself down and find the tourist office or go into a shop for directions. It will also be helpful to learn a few sentences of the local language such as ‘hello’, ‘thank you’, ‘where is…?’, etc.
5. Stay in touch.
In this day and age, it’s totally impossible to stay connected with the world while in a foreign country. You can often get data roaming deals with your mobile service provider, and there’s typically free wifi almost everywhere nowadays. Make sure to keep at least one person updated with your location. If you can, share your location with them so in case something does happen, they can provide the police with information.