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  1. 20 tips for solo travellers

    posted by Guest blogger - Janice Waugh | 11 Comments

    Jul162014

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    Our latest guest post is by Janice Waugh, publisher of Solotravelerblog.com, the blog for those who travel alone. She is also moderator the Solo Travel Society on Facebook which has over 8,000 members. She has been a go-to person on solo travel for CNN, the Oprah Blog, the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, LA Times and more. A solo-travel specialist, Janice is also the author of The Solo Traveler's Handbook which is now in its 2nd edition.

    People are travelling solo more and more. It’s safe and makes your trip just that, yours. You do what you want when you want. Follow these tips to have a great time.

    1. Plan in advance
    Do some advance planning. You don’t need a detailed plan but you should know, for the first night at least, where you’re going to stay. Book your hostel before you leave.

    2. Pack light
    Pack light so that you can manage your luggage by yourself with ease. One carry-on, a suitcase or backpack, should suffice whether you’re out for one week or three.

    3. Try to arrive during the day
    Plan to arrive during daylight so you’re not trying to find your way through an unfamiliar city in the dark.

    4. Mix with others
    Connect with other travellers. The common rooms and lounges of hostels are great places meet short-term friends as well as pick up excellent travel advice.

    5. Meet the locals
    Connect with locals. Many cities have free local tour guides but you can also connect with a local through sites like Meetup.com and 5W - Women Welcoming Women World Wide.

    6. Watch the world around you
    Take the time to observe how people interact, and how things work. While sitting at a sidewalk cafe, on a park bench, or just killing time you can learn how to use public transit, whether to pay your bill at your table or at the counter, how to tip or how to hail a cab and much more.

    7. Open up!
    Learn how to talk to strangers. Smile and start a conversation. Be curious and ask open-ended questions and follow-up questions.

    8. Go out and enjoy yourself
    Go out in the evenings. Go to pubs and bars and grab a seat at the bar. Go to concerts and the theatre. It’s all possible solo.

    9. Don't be put off by dining alone
    Enjoy dining alone. Go to restaurants with communal tables or counters. Ask a local to order for you to start a conversation.

    10. Sign up for courses
    If you’re in one place for a while, connect with others by taking language or cooking classes. Whatever interests you. Also, visit the same café, fruit stall...every day and get to know the people.

    11. Get off the beaten track
    If you want to meet other travelers, go off the beaten path. Travelers that find each other where there are few tourists are more inclined to talk to each other. Plus, you will likely have something in common.

    12. Go on organised tours
    Break up long trips with organized tours. You’ll enjoy the company and a chance to let someone else take care of all the details.

    13. Always have the essentials
    Carry the essentials with you when you head out for the day. Have the name of the place you’re staying on a piece of paper in the local language. Have a copy of your emergency contacts and your documents on you.

    14. Store important items in one place
    Always keep your most important items in the same place and have a simple check. For me it’s passport, wallet, camera and phone. Those are the items I check when I feel the need.

    15. Take your own photos
    Learn to take your own photo. Your friends will be far more interested in your photos when you return if there are pictures of you amongst them.

    16. Save on phone charges
    Consider buying an unlocked cell phone so that you can buy a SIM card for your phone in each country as you travel. This will save you lots of money.

    17. Use Skype
    Load Skype onto your phone so that you can connect with friends and family for free when you have access to the Internet.

    18. Take advantage of other useful apps
    Download useful apps to your phone such as a GPS, a translator, a currency converter and some travel guides.

    19. Avoid dark alleys
    Know the value of being seen. A public place is always safer than a private place.

    20. Trust your instinct
    Be aware of your surroundings and listen to your gut. If something doesn't seem right, leave.

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  2. 11 Comments so far.

    Rebeka said on 06/12/2014 at 12:01pm

    Great tips. I also create small maps when i need to go from one place to another before I leave. This is in case you do not get the actual map upon arrival or if it is too small and doesn't cover the whole city or if you do not have access to internet. If I go somewhere for the first time, it is good to check on Google Maps the street view how the building and surroundings look like so it doesn't look so foreign. Don't assume the street numbering or transport system is the same as in another place. It can differ even from city to city in the same country. Check it before you go on forums. I also carry a bag that has arm and messenger straps so that I can use them interchangeably. Backpack is many times unsafe, especially if you travel in a busy area unless you are ready to wear it to the front :) I always have the messenger strap across so that even if somebody tries to grab it, they would have to take me with it (maybe not smart, but I love my bag :(). When travelling, I use a small satchel over my neck for travel essentials, like tickets, passport, money and I keep it under my clothes. If I venture out and leave my luggage I always take the copy of my passport with me. Tip 16 will not work everywhere since many countries do not have sim cards to buy - check before you leave. Look like you know what you are doing and walk with confidence. If you need advise on the way, check with a female or a person walking their dog or a couple that looks local or an older person. Usually those would be the safest people around. Get a whistle in case you do not feel safe. It is also good to scare away some animals like monkeys or dogs etc. If you have any food restrictions, try to always take with you something you can survive on for several hours - dried fruits, nuts etc. Just remember you will not be able to travel with them if you change continents - check online for any restrictions and luggage size as it can be different. Upon arrival, buy a big bottle of water and a small one. Keep the big one in your room and fill in the small one when you venture out. It will save you some money :) Do what you feel comfortable doing and don't feel embarrassed. Even if you look stupid... Nah, who cares! You will probably never see these people again ;)

    Victoria P said on 23/10/2014 at 11:49am

    How do people travelling alone protect themselves? Do people carry alarms? Would you?

    Veeoui said on 13/12/2012 at 1:58am

    Thank you very much for information like. I would like to travel alone just once.. Maybe I like it!

    JOHN said on 13/12/2012 at 12:58am

    1. What is an UNLOCKED CELL PHONE and SIM card?

    Peter L., Canada said on 12/12/2012 at 10:13pm

    Yep, I concur with all that Janice says. I've traveled solo lots in the world and I've done pretty well everything she advises. Looking forward to lots more traveling.

    candace williams said on 12/12/2012 at 8:14pm

    Awesome tips, one I would add is if you have 2 passports, split them up, also have a back up credit card in a different place aswell.

    Alexey said on 12/12/2012 at 7:44pm

    The 14th is some way contradictory.

    Fran said on 12/12/2012 at 6:55pm

    I have been a solo female traveller for many years and the above tips are great and I have followed most of them over the years of traveling Africa, Latin America (my favourite) and many other off the beaten track locations. I think one is more alert when on their own, having a companion can mean either or both are less aware of their surroundings and consequently are more likely to be a target. have the enjoyed my solo travel experiences much more than when I have had a companion. Solo is the the way to go!

    Andy Joynson said on 12/12/2012 at 6:31pm

    Make sure that the first photograph you take on your camera includes your contact details. Very useful if the camera is lost.

    Heather said on 12/12/2012 at 5:48pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you! These tips will certainly come in handy. I'll be travelling solo abroad in about 8 days for the first time and I'm extremely scared and nervous. I mean, it's like as the my flight day approaches I can feel the overwhelming sensation of fear. Did you ever feel like that? If so, how did you overcome it? Also, how am I supposed to take a decent picture with myself in them, without looking like an idiot?

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