Janice Waugh, author of The Solo Traveller's Handbook, shares her top tips for independent travel.
More people are traveling solo than ever before…
More people are now single than at any other time in history but that’s not the only reason why people are going travelling on their own. People also want the luxury of following their own interests and living on their own schedule. People of all ages are out on the road solo. On my travels I’ve met people in their 20s and people in their seventies taking on the world in their own way.
If you’re planning a solo trip, here are ten top insider tips for independent travel you need to know, courtesy of Janice Waugh, author of The Solo Traveller’s Handbook.
1. When planning your accommodation…
Consider a guest house, hostel, B&B or small pension as they usually offer more access to friendly locals.
2. Give yourself a full day to really acclimatise to each new destination
I find that it takes that amount of time to feel comfortable.
3. Enjoy dinner as a solo traveller:
– Choose a restaurant with a bar and eat there – this is my choice as I almost always meet someone.
– Go to restaurants with communal tables or coffee shops that are the hubs for freelancers. These are social places where you’re likely to meet locals and they frequently offer free Wi-Fi allowing you to stay connected with home.
– Dine in the same place regularly so that you become friendly with the staff.
– Take a book. It will not only occupy you but also signal other people dining solo that you are alone.
– Ask people who are alone if you can join them. Worst case… they say no.
– Take your main meal at noon when the romantic crowd aren’t around and the prices are lower.
4. When going out at night…
Leave a note in your room saying where you are going and when you expect to be back. If you are meeting someone, indicate whom…
5. Stay well rested and sober
It’s important to have your wits about you when you travel solo.
6. Think ahead when it comes to cash
Exchange bureaux usually have poor rates and higher fees. Use ATMs to get money and don’t take out large sums at one time. Consider a pre-paid credit card. Keep emergency back-up funds in a separate place from your regular funds.
7. Stay connected
Consider buying an unlocked cell phone so that you can buy a SIM card for your phone in each country as you travel. This saves money. Load Skype onto your phone so that you can Skype with friends and family at home at no cost when you have access to the internet. See our article showing you how to save spending on big roaming charges abroad.
8. Always keep your most important items in the same place and have a simple check
For me it’s passport, wallet, camera and phone. Those are the items I check when I feel the need.
9. Keep your documents secure
Give someone at home copies of your documents and email copies to yourself. Keep a photocopy of your documents in your suitcase, separate from your original documents. Carry important documents in a secure place such as a money belt.
10. And some quick safety tips…
Schedule your arrival in a new location early — well before dark. Always stay in public. Draw on the support of strangers – people of your choice – if you feel unsafe. Don’t be afraid to be noisy and make a fuss if someone is bothering you.
Janice Waugh is author of The Solo Traveler’s Handbook, publisher of Solo Traveler, the blog for those who travel alone and moderator of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook with over 8,000 fans. She has spoken at The Smithsonian on solo travel and at a number of industry events on travel blogging. She has been quoted in many media outlets including CNN, the Oprah Blog, the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, LA Times and USA Today. On Twitter she is @solotraveler.