7 Tips for Travelling Solo

I wrote this article after chatting with a woman I met on my very first solo trip 50 years ago.  We still laugh at the shenanigans we got up to and are in awe of how our friendship has blossomed over the years.  With a lifetime of solo trips under my belt, here are 7 tips for those who are curious about venturing the world on their own …

  1. It’s not always glamourous and romantic as some movies would have you believe. Be realistic about why you are travelling solo and stay in the moment, enjoying the experience for what it is without searching for something or hiding behind devices and lenses.  Connect with your surroundings.   
  • Plan, plan, plan … then relax and be spontaneous. After all, travel is about the experience and the best ones are usually a surprise.  Slow down – it’s not a race to see as many tourist attractions as possible.  Purchase “skip the line tickets” if you must see an exhibit, but avoid the crowds in favour of more off the beaten path and local experiences.
  • Safety: Stay apprised of tips and strategies to minimize trouble and try to be aware of your surroundings at all times. There are resources online to help better prepare you for a solo travel experience. I love JourneyWoman.com for all their practical tips and amazing stories.
  • Pamper yourself while travelling – seat upgrades, airport lounges, a spa treatment, visiting a spiritual or healing site, hiring a professional guide for an insider experience or taking a local cooking class.  For me, sitting and doing nothing is a treat.  I especially love people watching at an outdoor café and can sit there for hours taking in my surroundings.
  • Do everything you can to stay in good health. Being alone in a foreign hospital is very scary. Make sure you have the proper health insurance with 24/7 medical assistance to cover you for every possibility, including being air lifted home in an emergency. This is where using a professional travel advisor can really pay off.
  • Plan ahead to meet a friend, a colleague or even a friend of a friend while travelling solo.  Talk to strangers – without being creepy. This means getting away from the “tourist zones” and engaging more with the locals.  A pleasant exchange with a local shop keeper, smiling at a mother and her children, commenting on a book someone is carrying, or ask a restaurateur for their recipe are just a few examples. Learning a bit of the language always helps too!   
  • Be realistic and set your expectations. If you sometimes feel lonely at home, then travelling will be no different. For some people, being surrounded by strangers is freeing while for others it only increases one’s loneliness. Travelling solo is not a cure for whatever issues you are facing at home.

Travelling solo is an adventure which might just change your perspective on life.  Use your common sense, trust your instincts and be open to what life and travel can teach you. The rewards may just reshape how you live the rest of your life!

NOTE: I started Hibiscus Tours International Ltd. over 35 years ago while travelling the world in search of unique cultural experiences.  The tours I design for educational institutions, organizations and my private clientele are immersive and experiential – coming from a place of curiosity and sustainable best practices.  Of course our travel agency caters to discerning clients seeking professional services, as travel styles vary as much as the destinations people want to visit. 

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