Don’t be surprised if you feel touched after watching ‘Eat, Pray, Love.’ You are likely to have a sudden urge to take a solo trip around the world, too. Not only are the featured destinations – Italy, India, and Bali – some of the most beautiful and culturally-rich places to visit, but heading out on a solo adventure can prove to be a rewarding experience, in general.
Solo travel can be the ultimate in self-indulgence. You can rest when you want and pour it on when you’re feeling ambitious. When you travel alone, your mistakes are your own, and your triumphs all the more exciting. There’s no worrying that your insistence on trekking all the way across town to a museum that was closed ruined your partner’s day; it’s your own day to salvage or chalk up to a learning experience. You can do exactly what you want to do – all the time. Always wanted to try surfing? Sign up for a class and go for it; there’s no one sitting on the beach bored while you have the time of your life. Have no desire to see the Tiananmen Square? Drive right by it.
If you turn on TV, go on social media, you’ll absorb the information of dangers of travelling alone from mass media. However, for every one of the horror stories you might hear about travelling alone in the news, there are countless other wonderfully transformative stories that go untold.
When you’re traveling alone, every day is your day. Celebrate it. Here is a little advice for those who are considering going solo:
- Make Connections at the Destination
In our ever-connected world, there is always a chance that someone knows someone. So ask your friends, colleagues, and family to see if they know anybody in the destination you’re heading to. You might end up having tea or being invited to dinner by your friend’s sister’s college roommate’s cousin who just happens to live in Beijing and is keen to show you around.
- Prepare Everything in Advance
While travelling solo offers you the freedom to do whatever you want on your own, in the meantime it is very important to have all the travel essentials planned in advance of your arrival – notably transport.
Don’t forget to scan copies or take photos of important documents (passport, driver’s license, credit cards, airline or train tickets, etc), then email them to yourself and store them in your smartphone or tablet. Bring the printed copies with you. In case you lose something or get robbed (which happens quite often), you’ll have a much easier time getting a replacement if you have proof of identity.
If you have everything sorted beforehand, the experience will most likely turn out to be smooth, too.
- Avoid Looking Like a Tourist
First thing first, stop the backpack. Nothing screams tourist more than a backpack. You simply don’t have that extra set of eyes to watch your back since you’re travelling alone.
Other precautions like not carrying your camera around your neck and not having a map or guide book out in crowded places will make you less obvious to scam artists and pickpockets. Consider a larger satchel-style, carry-all that you can securely sling across your body.
- Book an Organized Tour
The truth is that you might still crave some interaction and conversation after a few days. Booking some guided group tours in the local area can be also a great way to meet with other travelers and is also a safer way to explore the new destination.
- Spontaneity is the Key
Can’t resist a taste of gelato while you walk by an ice-cream shop? Bump into a great local vintage market and can’t seem to leave? Do it. I know you probably already have the whole day of activities planned, but remember this is your vacation and there are endless opportunities out there waiting for you. Remember to take every opportunity to make the most of the experience.