Traveling solo is considered by many to be one of the most amazing things they’ve done with their lives. That it taught them they were stronger than they ever imagined. That even silence speaks. That there are lots of kind people out there. If you ask people who have travelled solo, they would go on and on about how great it was.
As one who has done solo trips quite a number of times, I co-sign. There is lots to be gained from traveling solo, and little to be lost.
I also appreciate the fact that traveling solo may not look desirable to some people, for one reason or the other. Top on the list is fear. This post is for those who have overcome the fear of the unknown and are hoping to embark on their first solo trip soon.
When you’re ready you will know. However, try be very deliberate about it. Some things in life are to be grabbed, as opposed to having them served to you like the tagine I wish I was currently eating in Morocco.
So now that you’ve taken the great step to embark on that trip alone, here’s some things to keep in mind to ensure you have the best time.
Research on your destination beforehand
Now, this is something you might drop along the way as you increasingly become a seasoned traveller. For your first solo trip, however, please have most information on the tip of your hands, in your notebook, or anywhere else really.
Don’t wait till you’re there cuz it could get confusing, especially with everyone trying to sell their hustle to you. Armed with information, you’re better placed to make the right decision.
Believe me, you don’t need sneakers in every colour. Even if it’s for the gram, no one will judge you for wearing that shoe or jeans more than once when traveling solo. If they do, they really need to rethink how they spend their time.
Pack just the basics. As a rule of thumb, bring tops you can pair up with more than one bottom without looking like a clown – unless, of course, you’re into clownery.
If going to a cold place, choose clothes that are light and still keep you warm. That saves you on space, and you don’t end up paying extra for luggage. That’s how budget airlines get you, BTW.
See that shiny Louis Vuitton scarf, please leave it at home. Okay, maybe unless you’re in Paris for fashion week. Even then, try to behave like a local. Drawing unnecessary attention to yourself will only make you a target and could end badly.
There are places where you naturally stand out. For instance, being a black girl with braids in a remote Thai village will certainly turn heads. In that case, here’s number 4.
Learn a few local words
This will help you with the blending in. the locals will also look at you as a friend, not an intruder. As a black girl with braids in a remote Thai village who is traveling solo, they will respect you for that. They will approach you with curiosity and that will dilute any hostility.
Digitally back up all your documents
This is very important and could save you a lot of trouble when traveling solo. In most countries, this is an acceptable form of identification so you don’t have to walk around with, say, your passport.
There are many free scanning apps online. Download those and create a folder on your phone with all the documents you consider important. Your passport is VERY important, trust me 😁
Get a local sim card
I know there are people who want to rely on wifi when traveling solo. Still, I find buying a sim card a much better option cuz you stay connected on your terms. Moreover, you can still use the wifi anytime that’s possible. Most times it’s not expensive and will only offset you a few dollars.
A sim card will help you be in touch with your friends and family back at home who would obviously be very anxious given it’s your first time traveling solo. Get a sim card for your peace of mind, and theirs. While on this, have at least one local person’s number that you’re sure you can reach, if needed. The local guy could help you when some things are lost in translation – this happens a lot.
Even those you pray to will understand here. Traveling solo makes you an easy target. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to blend in, there will be those that will know that you’re a visitor. Never tell them you’re alone unless you’re signing official documents. What would these be, anyway? Tell them your friends are joining you shortly. Say you left your (jealous) husband in the room. Come up with something to show them that if anything goes wrong there will be someone who will notice.
You will know when it’s not necessary to lie.
Wake up early
Not every day, before you dismiss me 😅. See those days you want to go hiking? Or visit those caves that are 2 hours from where you are staying? Wake up early and get done with it before it gets dark. It helps to be back in your room before dark: you see where you’re going so you don’t end up in sketchy places. At the same time, waking up early helps you avoid crowds especially if the place you’re visiting is touristy. You also get to catch the sunrise. C’mon!
Download an offline map
Despite having a sim card, hence, internet connection, there are places with barely any reception. There are many offline maps that could help you in this case. This will help you avoid being stranded when traveling solo.
Trust your gut
Remember I told you up there, about 2 times, that “you will know…”? I promise you will. Be alert of your surroundings, of energies… be alert. Use your common sense and you’ll be okay traveling solo.
I should have added have fun but I won’t cuz that’s granted. Unless you visit a place called “sad land”, you will have fun. You will meet many people who share your interests. You will fall in love, with things and with people. You will see new constellations of stars. You will meet someone who knows history more than you do. There will be people who fluently speak more than 6 languages. That will remind you of the French class that you skipped. At the end of the trip, you will know that it is okay and that even though you might not take up those classes again, you will discover that you have a lot more to live for. You will then start planning to travel solo, again.
A cool event is coming up that you really want to attend. In the spirit of solo travel, you don’t even have friends who love games as much as you do, come meet like-minded guys. If your friends love such, tag them along. It will be dope! Get your tickets here.
Cheers to solitude!