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Six Top Tips For The Solo-Traveller

For some of us the idea of solo travel is heavenly.  No one else to organise, whole beds and rooms to ourselves, nobody to argue with over meal choices - and shopping for as long as you want .  In fact, solo travel is an increasing trend both for Kiwis and internationally. If you’re contemplating heading off on your own, here are our 10 top tips for the solo traveller to make your trip safer and more enjoyable:

Check The Online Reviews of Your Accommodation

Airbnb, TripAdvisor and Google are all good places to check before you book a place to stay.  Only choose accommodation that has multiple positive reviews. These reviews will give you a good idea of what to expect from the host, neighborhood, and types of other travellers who you will be staying with.  If you prefer to stay alone - try B&bs, house swapping, house sitting and pet sitting options.

Have You Pickups and Drop-Offs Pre-Arranged

This a good tip for both safety and peace of mind.  One time when travelling alone to Turkey, I arrived at the airport in the wee hours of the morning.  Unfortunately I hadn't pre-booked a transfer to my accommodation. This meant that while tired and jetlagged I had to negotiate a price with a rather unsavoury looking taxi driver who knew I was desperate and naive.  A very pricey trip ensued and a valuable lesson learnt. So where you can, book your airport and train transfers. Where this is not possible, make sure you know the safe routes to and from your accommodation, expected price of a taxi or Uber fare, and check for local scams that take advantage of tourists.

Before You Leave - Make a List of Your Emergency Information

This tip is a good idea for every traveller. Keep handy i.e. on your phone plus a paper copy in your luggage:

  • A list of emergency contact numbers for your bank, insurance, travel agent and family members.

  • A copy of all your pre-booked accommodation, travel, transfers and activities.

  • A copy of your passport photo page.

  • A photograph and list of all luggage you are taking with you (for both insurance purpose and also if luggage gets lost at an airport).

 

Book Tours Online & Get Sightseeing

Some of the best experiences I have had travelling alone involved bike tours, canal tours, museum tours and walking groups.  While you are not truly alone, often other people on these tours are also solo travellers, the tours can be a really fun way of seeing a new location safely, and they get you exploring out of town locations you might not get to on your own.  Plus, you can pick and choose the tours that suit you and decide if you want to go back to a place later on your own. I know of one senior solo-traveller who loved the ‘Jack The Ripper’ tour in London, something his partner would never had done if they had been on the trip.

Most tourist destinations have online booking websites, so you can pre-book or pre-plan your tours before you arrive.

Eat Local

You could choose a pricey dining establishment like a Michelin star restaurant, and to be honest a table for one is probably easy to score than a table for two, but the best option for solo travellers is the tasty authentic street food you will find in all cities. From Asian and Pacific food markets to cool food carts in Auckland and New York, these cheap local options are a fun dining experience for travellers. Often these food establishments have chatty staff who are more than happy to chat about local dishes and you will hopefully meet locals who can recommend other great places to visit.

Think Smart And Be Aware

While travelling alone has many benefits, you do need to keep your wits about you and think a  bit smarter about what you are doing. For example, don’t look like a tourist! Where possible, try to blend in with the locals i.e. don’t carry cameras or wear bum-bags or some other tourist cliche.  

Other tips are to smile and nod when a passerby greets you, even if you don’t speak the language, look like you’re talking on your phone when walking alone at night, keep your bagged zipped/closed and hold it tight to your body etc.  

Most of all - smile, relax and have fun!


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