Although it may seem daunting, travelling along can be one of life’s greatest pleasures, allowing you to really engage with the local culture. But without proper planning, it can also prove to be expensive, exhausting and, if you’re not cautious, dangerous as well. Here, Better Traveller’s guide to travelling solo.
- Solo travellers are the most common to be taken taken for a ride, so to speak, when it comes to taxi travel, so before you start your journey from the airport, ask how much it is going to cost. Most cities have a set fee from the airport to the city centre, so before to look that up beforehand, and if the driver’s estimate doesn’t seem right, choose a different taxi.
- Most tour companies and hotels charge a set rate based on double occupancy or charge a single supplement. Travel companies do, however, offer bargains for solo travellers, so ask when you call to book, or look into roommate matching through operators such as Intrepid Travel and Road Scholar. B&Bs often have single rooms, too, sparing you the single supplement of a typical hotel.
- Avoid making yourself an obvious target by blending in with the locals. Consult your guide book, app or map before you leave for the day, and move with confidence as you walk through the streets. If it’s dark, walk in public places and secure your valuables.
- Be sure to carry your ID and a mobile phone throughout your trip, and give friends or family a copy of your itinerary and contact details. Remember to register your travel plans with Smart Traveller before you head out.
- Pack lightly. There’s nothing worse than attempting to haul your overweight suitcases up flights of stairs at a European train station, especially when there’s no one around to help you. It’ll also mean you’re more mobile, allowing you take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves.
- Many people suffer from solomangarephobia (the fear of eating out alone), but it can be a wonderful experience if you let go of the notion that you look like a loner. Dine at local haunts rather than touristy restaurants, and sit by the bar or at a communal table, where you’re more likely to strike up conversation.
- Speaking of locals, ask them about their favourite places to eat, shop and visit, as you’ll likely discover the places not listed in any guide book.
- Forget your regular calendar and body clock. If you really want to immerse yourself in a foreign culture, it’s important to follow the schedule of local residents, whether that means getting up early for the markets, dining later in the evening, or napping in the afternoon. Long live the siesta.
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