Travelling alone can be extremely intimidating, especially if you’ve never done it before. There are various factors that contribute to the level of sheer fear it brings, like – How far a distance am I travelling? Is a plane necessary to get there? How long am I going for? Do I speak the local language? Do I have to bunk in shared accommodations? Did I book an Airbnb in the local ghetto unbeknownst to me? Is the food going to agree with me? Cue panic.
Coming from someone who grew up in a relatively persistent state of anxiety, I can attest to the dread that can flood over you as you walk through those security gates leaving the comfort of home – your waving family behind you. You probably can’t quite stomach the coffee you’ve been grasping on to for the past 20 minutes as you’ve cooked up 101 ways this plane isn’t going to get you to your intended destination and as you shakily hand over your boarding pass to Martha from Air Canada you seriously contemplate fleeing the airport all together. Instead, you decide to take a deep breath and militantly walk down that jet bridge like you own it! You get situated, hope to God no one too chatty sits next to you and order a gin and tonic stat. Suddenly you’re half way across the Atlantic and feel like a new woman, conquering the world with bravery…it’s the gin talking.
Once you land is when the real adventure begins. Think of this opportunity as just that – an opportunity to do something you’ve never done before, to try things without fear and with excitement, to open your mind to an entirely different way of living, maybe just temporarily. Travelling solo is liberating and very therapeutic no matter how far or close to home you roam. Here are a few of my tips for adventuring our big, beautiful world on your own:
Leave a travel itinerary and/or a copy of your passport with relatives or friends.
There might not be anything more stress inducing than misplacing your identification, especially while travelling. If you lose your passport, chances are you’re not going too far once you’ve arrived in said destination. Scan a copy and email it to yourself and a friend or family member for those worst case scenarios. Leaving a tentative schedule of your travel plans at home isn’t a bad idea either – that way your loved ones have some peace of mind while you’re exploring!
Look for accommodations that are staffed 24 hours a day.
Sometimes transportation plans change. You might have a flight delay, you missed your train connection, or you simply couldn’t figure out the bus schedule in Greek. Do yourself a favour and book accommodations with a 24 hour front desk service, or if you’re room sharing with a local, make sure there is flexibility with your check in. You don’t want to end up locked out until morning in a community that’s foreign to you and 24 hour staff offers an extra layer of security. Maybe even connect with some of the staff and let them know you are travelling on your own!
Learn a few words in the local language.
If you’re heading somewhere where the language is not your own, download a couple of super helpful language apps like Duolingo and Google Translate. Duolingo will help you brush up on a few useful words and phrases before you go, while Google Translate will get you through sticky language situations on the spot…as long as you have WiFi or data, which leads me to my next tip…
Setup your roaming package or grab a local SIM card.
There’s nothing worse than being away and coming home to a phone bill the size of your monthly mortgage payment. Do yourself a solid and prepare for long distance communication by making sure your phone is equipped with a roaming package. Want to really feel like a local? Pick up a SIM card at a nearby phone company or select convenience shops. You’ll get your very own foreign phone number to share with people back home and don’t have to worry about racking up those crazy long distance charges. You also won’t have to rely strictly on WiFi to keep your bill down!
Kick back and relax with a journal or blog.
One of my favourite parts of travelling alone is the freedom you have to spend your time the way you want. While I absolutely love to explore and see as much of the places I’m visiting as possible, I also enjoy kicking back solo at a local café or restaurant, or laying down for a nap and letting myself enjoy the peace and quiet or the sounds of my temporary surroundings. Writing helps you share those experiences with friends and family and allows you to reflect and reminisce in years to come, which you are going to want to do – trust me! If putting a pen to paper isn’t your thing, think about starting a travel blog. Blogs are easily setup through programs like WordPress (my personal favourite) and are accessible from all your trusty gadgets. Plus, a blog lets your peeps back home keep up with your travel in almost real time, while traditional journaling can’t be shared until you’ve arrived home. Nevertheless, documenting your solo travels will be one of the greatest methods of keeping your memories alive. Oh and don’t forget your camera!
You CAN do this, I promise. Happy travelling!