10 September 2015

Suitcase. Tips For Travelling Alone

Since living in London I’ve been lucky enough to do a serious amount of travel, a lot of which has actually been solo. You don’t have to be brave, in fact I wouldn’t say I’m that brave of a person, but I am determined, so when I want to visit a city and I can’t find someone to go with me I’m not just going to not go!...

People often ask me what it’s like to travel by myself, saying that they’re not brave enough to try it. I think they’re envisaging candlelit dinners alone with people staring at them, going 24 hours without talking to anyone and getting lost in the wilderness i.e., a foreign city. Honestly it’s not so. I have to say the worst thing I find about travelling alone is not having someone to help me take photos! Selfies are a struggle so I'm always approaching strangers and praying they don't run away with my camera!…

Over the past 14 months I’ve definitely learnt a few things along the way. Here are my tips for travelling solo…

Make your trip 2 – 3 days
This is especially important if you haven’t travelled solo before. Growing up as an only child I’ve always really enjoyed my own company but if you’re not used to it then it might be a bit overwhelming, especially in a foreign place. 2-3 days is the perfect duration for a solo trip, most cities can easily be explored in that time and you’ll be able to pack your days full of adventuring without having too much downtime if you are feeling lonely [but I bet you won’t be!].

Go with a plan
On my solo trips I like to take with me a rough itinerary and city map that has points of interest marked. That way if you’re unsure what to do you can refer to the things you’ve already researched! I find the best way to travel is to be busy, sure if you’re on a beach vacation it’s nice to sit back with a book, but a city break to me is about getting around town and seeing it all. Before I go I always check out the top attractions of the city in online forums and get an idea of some of the local hotspots for eating.

Book nice accommodation
Now this is just my opinion but when I travel, and especially when I travel alone, it’s really important to me to stay somewhere nice. I usually aim for a 4 star hotel (you can always find amazing deals on Expedia!) where I feel comfortable, safe, it’s a good location and there are good facilities. It just makes the whole thing seem homier.

Do a walking tour
And do it on the first day. When you arrive it’s normal to have a sense of gosh what first!? That’s why a walking tour makes a great option. You’ll be able to meet some people, chat to someone who knows about the city, learn some history and get the lay of the land.

Make people-watching your sport
Meal times can be awkward when you’re alone but if you pick the right place with a bit going on around you then you’ve got the perfect distraction: people watching! There’s nothing I love more than eating a meal and watching the world go by; who’s at the tables around you, imagining what their life story is, what’s happening out on the street, the fashion, the language, the comings and goings... Don’t feel insecure about sitting alone, I bet the people around you wish they had the guts to do it.

Always have a map and a way of contacting someone
When it comes down to it, safety first so ensure you always have a rough idea of your whereabouts and a working phone just in case you need to make contact with someone. Having said that I’ve never had any trouble, but obviously don’t wander into the neighbourhood you know is a bit of a drug den and steer clear of any dark empty streets. If you do get lost you usually find your way again, any time I have has always been enjoyable because I usually stumble across something cool to see or do that I didn't know about…

It gets better every time
Like all good things in life do!… Honestly the more you travel alone the savvier you become, not to mention how much you learn about yourself. It’s really liberating to arrive in a city you’ve never been to before and know that the experience you have is all up to you. Go with a positive mind and a lust for adventure and you’re set for a great time.

I would honestly go so far as to say that travelling alone is almost my preference now! It’s really nice to be able to work to your own schedule and go where you please. Off course if you have a friend who is perfect to travel with then that’s great too! But like I said, if you want to go somewhere, don’t put it off just because you don’t want to go alone. Independence is key, embrace it, book the ticket and just go! You’ll have a ball, I promise you will.

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Photos by Krissie.