5 Tips for the Solo Traveller
Travelling alone? Here are 5 lessons every solo traveller should know before departing on their trip of a lifetime.
BUDGET, BUDGET, BUDGET!!!
I think it goes without saying, whether you're travelling by yourself or with others, you need to create a budget. Being on vacation is exciting and it's easy to swipe your credit cards more times than you need to while being swept up in the excitement! To ensure that you stay within your means, take some create a budget which outlines the various expenses associated with your trip. For example, you may want to research variable exchange rates and build in extra funds for emergencies.
Other key considerations when preparing a budget for your dream holiday are:
- Flight Prices;
- Hotel/ Histel/ Air BnB accommodations;
- Transportation costs-- including car rentals, taxi rides, ubers, trains etc;
- Entertainment - all the fun stuff you plan on doing while you're hanging out; and
- Shopping! I'm probably the only person who builds shopping into the budget, but a lot of time when I'm away shopping is a form of entertainment for me.
This list is not exhaustive and your considerations will change depending on where you're going, the duration of your trip, and your interests.
For the love of God, get the travel insurance.
...And I'm not just saying this because I'm a lawyer. It's always best to be on the safer side of sorry and get additional travel insurance. We've all heard of freak accidents occurring while people are away, so why not be prepared for anything. If you're apart of a group benefits plan with your employer, determine the extent of your travel coverage under the existing plan. Most policies cover a minimum of $1 Million for emergency travel medical insurance. Generally speaking, standard policies will include, treatment by a physician, hospital accommodations, medical supplies, and ambulance transportation. You could always supplement this basic coverage with additional insurance depending on where you are travelling to and how long you'll be away. I never travel without additional insurance and I think it's wise for all solo traveller to consider getting additional insurance coverage before they depart.
Never let anyone really know that you're alone. In my experience as a solo female traveller, I haven't had any unusual encounters with strangers. That's because I don't typically shout from the roof top that I'm travelling alone! Particularly as a female, there's an element of risk when you are wandering around alone in a foreign city. I always try my best to stay alert and familiarize myself with my surrounds. Usually a day before I head out to explore, I spend some time in the hotel room googling the various sites that I want to see. I will also determine the method of transportation that I would use. Whether I'm taking a taxi or the transit, I like to have a general sense of where I'm going and its proximity to the hotel.
What I've found, in a lot of major cities, getting around alone can be as simple as hopping on a tour bus! Yes, I am the quintessential cheesy tourist. Most of the cities that I have visited offer hop-on-hop-off tours. These tours are a great way to wander around a new city without being completely alone. I enjoy having the freedom of checking out the sites while on a tour, but there's an element of security knowing that you have transportation and a tour guide. I can get off the tour bus and explore for as long as I want to, and hop back on to see the next site!
If being cheesy isn't your thing, and you must wander around aimlessly, please read a map and have a general idea of where you are, so that you don't get lost!
50% plan/50% wing it!
If you couldn't already tell by this post, I'm a planner. Shamelessly, I ENJOY planning! I PLAN for the plan! BUT, I do understand that sometimes you just have to wing it. Whether you're trying a new cuisine or wandering aimlessly, take some time out to just enjoy the new scenery. Having an idea of how you want to structure your day is great, but it's equally important to let the city take you by surprise. Who knows, you may discover something new!
Be at Peace (unplug and bring a journal)
Even if you don't enjoy writing, it's always nice to document your journey through photos or words. On my last trip to Europe, I didn't take very many photos because I really wanted to take in the scenery and create organic memories. I was able to snap a few shots, to commemorate my beautiful experiences.
Most importantly, I took the opportunity to unplug from social media and really check out. If you've been following my Life After Articling Series, you'll know that my most recent trip to Europe was therapeutic. After completing a long year of articling and being Called to the Bar, I just needed to relax. I took complete advantage of my time in Europe to unplug the from social media (mainly because I couldn't use my phone outside of wifi networks!) for a few days to recharge. I spent my downtime writing about everything that I experienced and I found myself enjoying each moment to the fullest. Whether you're travelling alone or with a companion, it's nice to go off the grid for a bit and really get lost in the beauty, culture and scenery of your chosen destination.
The best advice I could give to any traveller, solo or otherwise, is to enjoy the experience... really try to be fearless and be at peace while away from home. Travelling is an escape from you reality at home and it serves as an amazing opportunity to create new experiences abroad.
Make sure you comment below and let me know your travel plans for 2017! My next stop is back to the east coast of Canada sometime this summer! Can't wait to see what all the fuss is about, Newfoundland!
xox Raquiya G.