Solo travel is more popular than ever right now and with better technology and information available it’s also a lot safer than years gone by. If you’re new to the idea of travelling alone it can seem like there’s lots to consider - and there is! Use our practical guide to prepare and plan the trip of a lifetime.
A good tip is to practice elements of solo travel at home first. It’s important that you get used to solo expeditions before you book your trip. Consider going to the cinema, eating out or touring a museum by yourself to get a feel for it. It’s at this stage where you’ll discover if the idea is for you. Listen to your mind and decide if you’re comfortable with completing these elements abroad.
Once you know that you’re ready to travel alone for the first time. Now it’s time to choose your solo destination. A common misconception is that to complete a solo trip you need to journey halfway across the world for it to count. This is far from the truth. It’s best to choose a location that’s within your comfort zone like a city break, especially if it’s your first time.
Arriving at a new destination can be a little daunting, especially if you have no plans. One of the top tips is to have few elements of your trip planned. You can pre book hotels, tours and other attractions and use Google Maps to figure out your commute too.
You might like to pre-book these aspects for the initial days and then figure the rest out yourself while you’re over there. Do what best suits you. There’s no doubt about it, having an itinerary for when you arrive will take a lot of pressure off the ‘solo’ aspect of your trip.
You’re mistaken if you think that you’re the only person doing this solo. Lots of people opt to travel alone knowing that they’ll make companions along the way. A good way to do this is by joining group tours. Guided walking tours is your chance to soak up the local culture and history with likeminded people - even if it’s just to ask someone else to take your photo! The other people you meet are great for sharing honest, hands-on experience with you and provide you with tips and recommendations that you can’t find online.
Whether you’re trekking alone or not, chances are you’re packing way too much. Nearly all of us cram our suitcases full of stuff until it reaches the airline baggage weight limits and then use only half the items packed. We also rarely consider the weight of carrying this case around by ourselves. Here’s our best tips for what you should pack for backpacking.
Most importantly, make things easier on yourself and pack lightly. Take only the essentials and pack layer able outfits that you can mix and match. Save space for a local phrase book - this you will definitely use! You should also take out a travel insurance policy to protect whatever valuables you have brought with you. We previously covered the risks you take when travelling without travel insurance.
This step is a precautionary method that could save you a lot of stress. It’s good to carry cash as not all places will accept card payment when you’re away. It’s also recommended to bring more than one card with you in case one becomes blocked, lost or stolen. When travelling by yourself it’s important to always have a plan B. There are also many great payment apps that are particularly helpful when travelling abroad such as Revolut and N26. Many of them offer the option of a prepaid card that you can top up as you like, simple currency exchange and helpful budgeting tools.
Travelling alone can bring with it many risks with some people looking to prey on tourists with travel scams. But follow these tips to help you stay safe while abroad.
Before you leave, share your itinerary, hotel reservation information and details of any planned activities with a family member or friend back home and make sure to stay in touch while away. There are many cheap data packages and WIFI is available in almost every café, bar, hostel and hotel. Take advantage of this and keep your loved ones updated on your location and your plans. Check in with your friends and family often - even if it’s just to let them know what an amazing time you’re having!
Learn about your destination’s safest areas and if there are any places you should avoid. Walk in public areas with other people around and try to do most of your outdoor activities in daylight. Also know the best routes to take home and follow our tips on how to stay safe on public transport.
Researching and understanding more about the area you’re visiting will help you choose accommodation with good safety ratings. But the best way to protect yourself and the investment you’ve made in your trip from unforeseen events is to ensure you have travel insurance.
One of the best things about travel is to meet new people. Find fellow travellers who share your passions. Whether it’s football, poetry Harry Potter or music, there will be hubs or groups that share your passion at your destination. Google search or find them on sites like meetup.com or else there are a whole host of great apps to meet people. Stay in places that encourage talking, this is what makes hostels and B&Bs the ideal accommodation for solo trips. With less guests and the owner often onsite as well as shared rooms and communal dining rooms this increases your opportunities to connect with others.
It is great for building your courage. Despite our best preparations, things can sometimes take a turn for the worse. It’s during these difficult times that we learn how to survive the unforeseen hurdles in our journey. Since we are companionless, we are forced to deal with the dangers on our own, helping us become more courageous and uncovering our hidden strength. As well as broadening your perspective on cultures and people it’s a great way to connect with yourself. It’s the best ‘me’ time possible, it clears your head, refreshes your thoughts and ideas.
It also teaches you responsibilities and how to look after yourself. You alone are accountable for all your actions and hence this makes you more responsible. There’s no one else to blame if things go wrong and so you learn to take care of yourself. As well as teaching you things it will also change how you think.
But most importantly, enjoy the experience. Having the thirst for travel and the self-assurance to do it solo is an amazing thing. Make sure you enjoy every moment of it. Give yourself the best opportunity for a stress-free experience with travel insurance from AIG. Choose from single trip or annual options and buy a travel insurance policy online in just minutes.