Travelling Alone - The Do's And Don'ts
Whether you’re travelling in Europe, travelling in India, travelling in North America, travelling in South America, travelling in one of the places not mentioned there, or travelling by train; there’s a lot of things to consider when you’re off on your adventures. If you’re travelling alone, also known as ‘going solo’, then there’s arguably even more stuff to consider. After all, you’re on your own; it’s just you, your wits, and the world at your feet.
Let’s face it, the world can be a pretty daunting place at the best of times. And if you’re travelling alone, and doing things by yourself, these feelings can be magnified intensely.
Fear not, however, because Mpora have just strolled into your lives once again and rest a reassuring hand upon your shoulder. We’ve whispered into your ear, and said something comforting like “look here, look at this, everything is going to be ok…we’ve brought you a do’s and don’ts guide to travelling solo…as well as a selection of the top 10 cities for people travelling alone. No need to thank us, we’re always here to help.”
The Do’s Of Travelling Solo
Do – Keep People Informed Of Your Location
This one is absolutely essential because if, heaven forbid, you should go missing at any point in your trip it’s vitally important that people actually know you’ve gone missing. If solo travellers go missing, a quick response time can be the difference between life and death.
Do – Get Travel Insurance
Buying travel insurance can be a pretty dull affair, but you need to get some. For the solo traveller, travel insurance is even more essential because you might not have a loyal friend nearby to patch up your wounds or carry you back down a hiking trail after you’ve twisted your ankle on a rock.
Do – Get To Know People At Your Hostels
Look, we get it. You’re travelling alone, and you want to be alone with just your thoughts, your DSLR camera, and the whole wide world. But, come on. There’s no need to block out all forms of social interaction, and disconnect yourself entirely from the human race. It’s good to have people, on the ground, looking out for you and watching your back.
Do – Plan Your Days
Setting yourself a strict, regimented, regime can be boring and suck the fun out of travelling alone. And, because of that, we’re reluctant to recommend such a thing. That being said, it’s not a bad idea to think about timings once in a while. Check, for example, what time the sun is going to set so that you don’t find yourself stranded in a dodgy part of town after dark.
Do – Look After Your Possessions
This might sound like a really obvious thing to say, but remember that you won’t have a friend you’ve known since primary school watching your backpack and telling you that the compartment where you keep your passport and your iPhone is currently unzipped.
While travelling alone, be sure to make regular checks (especially if you’re in an area known for pick-pocketing). Don’t just leave your backpack lying around in restaurants, take it to the bathroom if you need to. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than losing your bag.
The Don’ts Of Travelling Solo
Don’t – Sacrifice Your Safety
Of course, travelling is all about having experiences. But, come on, you want those experiences to be positive ones. Getting mugged in a darkened alley because you wanted to see the “real” side of the city, is not going to be a nice thing to write in your travel journal. Stay in well-lit areas, and avoid visiting dodgy parts of town (especially by yourself).
Don’t – Insult The Locals
Respect local traditions, and play by the rules. Being the most unpopular person in town, especially when you’re travelling alone, can make your solo adventure a seriously miserable experience.
Don’t – Fail To Prepare
A failure to prepare, is a preparation to fail. Make a list of items you need before you go, and be methodical in the way you approach it. Things like toothpaste and sunscreen are easily forgotten in the excited build-up to an adventure, but you’re going to be glad you’ve packed them when you realise that you can’t borrow some off your mate Geoff/Dave/Hannah/Jessica because they’re back at home.
Don’t – Forget To Phone Your Mum
Checking in with your parents might sound like the lamest thing in the world, but it’s a good thing to do. Not only will an e-mail/phone call/text message let your family know you’re safe, it will also keep you grounded in reality and potentially be a morale booster if you’ve started to miss the comforts of home.
Don’t – Get Scammed!
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. We’re not saying you need to be a paranoid wreck, who never leaves the hostel, but remember that as a tourist/traveller you’ll probably be targeted by hustlers trying to make a quick buck (or worse, take advantage of your vulnerability).
As a solo traveller, you won’t necessarily have the old “safety in numbers” cushion to fall back on. Stay sharp, and keep your wits about you.