Solo travelling: tips for the absolute first-timer
Thinking about going away for the first time on your own? Some are confident, others excited but slightly nervous, and some daunted. However you’re feeling, some of this might come in useful.
It might seem counter-intuitive as you don’t have a companion to borrow anything from, but it can also be stressful looking after your stuff all the time. So the less you have, the less you have to worry about. Don’t skimp to the point of it being frustrating – two pairs of underpants really is annoying – but keep clothes, valuables and accessories to a minimum.
Pack a good first-aid kit
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that you might get ill on your travels. It’s not a given, but it could happen. If you do, but don’t have new travel pals at hand, you don’t want to schlepping about the place looking for medicines. A basic first-aid kit should include anti-diarrhoea meds, rehydration salts, anti-histamine cream, painkillers, plasters and antiseptic cream/spray/wipes. Of course, don’t over-do it – if you need to see someone, local pharmacists are usually helpful.
You’re not 'really' solo
One thing everyone says about solo travelling is it’s easy to make friends. It’s certainly easier to approach solo travellers so you’re a natural magnet, and with increasing numbers of people travelling on their own, you’re drawn to each other. But it’s still not a bad idea to take a book to dinner as sometimes, it’s just not that type of place and it’s good to have back-up…
Take friendships with a pinch of salt
Making friends on the road is fantastic. You’re all in this same space, away from home, feeling adventurous. And you can make some very special friends. But if someone disappears or suddenly shows little interest in hanging out, don’t take it personally. Talk to new people and move on.
When you’re taking in so many experiences, it’s difficult to remember everything no matter how much you think you will. And you might not be in touch with people from all of your experiences, no matter how much you think you will… In years to come, photos will prove invaluable. If you can, keep a vague travel diary, even if it’s just what you did that day.
Don’t worry if you have a bad day or two
The pressure to have an ‘amazing’ time is always there, especially if you’re new to a place and surrounded by groups of travellers. Don’t let the odd bad day worry you. It doesn’t mean anything and it’s not long before you meet someone on a tour or at breakfast. And you’re back on track.
Prepare for the blues
Coming home can be unsettling. On one hand, you might be excited to see everyone and vice versa. Or you may be dreading it but either way, your incredible few months/year/whatever can feel life-changing while life for your family and friends, while it may have been great too, has ticked on, the way life does. A mini-trip or get-together to look forward to soon after returning is a good idea.
Such a cliché but you do have to look after yourself. Stay in touch with friends and family at home, and let people know, more or less, where you are. In no way should safety put anyone off, but it does matter. Solo travelling can be hugely liberating, confidence-boosting and above all, great fun.