Most people prefer to travel in groups, not because it is more fun, but because the thought of travelling alone appears scary. When you finally get comfortable doing it on your own, you realise that the experiences you will encounter are more meaningful and enhanced because you did not have to forego some of your wants and needs for others.
Here are a few tips for that adventurous soul that would love to give lone travelling a try.
Be comfortable in your own company
You cannot hope to travel alone comfortably when being by yourself at home makes you uncomfortable. Create situations that warrant you to be by yourself and embrace the feeling of solitude. Start by going out for a meal by yourself, or a movie perhaps; then work your way up from there.
Attend a festival all by yourself. Go out dancing by yourself. Build that courage by taking baby steps until you are finally ready to travel alone.
Start with near travels
If it is your first time travelling alone, it is best to start small. Begin by visiting places that are close to home. Increase the distance and your time away from home gradually. It is important to ease yourself into travelling alone. It cannot be rushed. It takes time to adjust.
Just because you are going to a new place does not mean you have to do things anew. On the contrary, it is often a good idea to stick to habits and routines you have grown accustomed to over the years. Routine is a great way to calm nerves and more often than not, helps to relieve tension. Simple habits such as a morning jogging or an afternoon nap or reading a chapter from a book every night may go a long way in making a foreign place feel like home.
Have a map of the area
One of the reasons why people dislike travelling alone is because of the fear of getting lost or just losing direction. Have a map with you at all times and know how to read it. This is key when going to new places.
Furthermore, do not be shy about asking for assistance from the locals.
Make budget plans ahead of your travel
Travelling to new places, especially where the culture is rich and so different from what you are used to, can lead to a lot of impulse buying. At the end of the day, you may find yourself either running low on funds, or with lots of souvenirs you really don’t need. Falling prey to impulse buying is very easy for a lone traveller; with no one to chastise your spending habits.
Before travelling, it is important to create a budget that you can work with. Allocate money for food, accommodation, transport, sightseeing, buying souvenirs and of course emergencies. Know how much money you have to spend and the kind of lifestyle you can afford on your journey. You can also make some budget cuts, for instance, you can sleep in more affordable hotels so that you splurge on other items.
Make video diaries
Some people find it hard to travel alone because they do not have anyone to share their travel experiences with. Thanks to technology, that need not be an issue. Creating video diaries of your travels is a great way of sharing this experience with your friends and family in a manner that gives them an almost first-hand experience. In addition, when planning another lone travel and you feel a bit scared, going through your past diaries and remembering the great adventures you had by yourself is a great way of keeping those travel jitters at bay.
Have local emergency contacts at hand
One of the concerns of travelling alone is safety. It is important to feel secure, especially when in a new place. People want to know that there is someone they can rely on to get them out of an uncomfortable situation. When visiting a new place, you can visit the local police station and local hospitals to get contact information and know the location as well. It is also a good idea to have contact information and location of your embassy. In new places, having a sanctuary gives a traveller peace of mind.
Also, it is a good idea to let your friends and family back home know where you’ll be staying.
Use means of transport you find comfortable
It is no secret that most people experience some kind of phobia when it comes to using some types of transportation means, such as air transport. This can make travelling, especially alone, very hard. When mapping out your travel journey, try and avoid these means of transport whenever possible.
However, you cannot stay away from uncomfortable situations forever. Most fears are bred out of ignorance and/or irrationality. Exposure to what you fear is one way of dealing with it. Learning more about the subject is another way too. Some fears come from past experiences. If it needs therapy to get over, it is important to seek help.
Details such as sleeping arrangements, places of interest to visit, means of travel, restaurants to eat in, etc. can be worked out prior to making the trip. This is a great way of getting a feel for your travel before it begins. You will find that when traveling alone, it helps to know the details of the journey beforehand. It gives some contentment to know that you have control over some basics even when chartering into new territory.
It also helps to foresee some difficulties you may experience during the travel and finding a way to smooth these bump or at least acclimatize accordingly. For instance, if you want to visit a rural town that has poor road network, you will not find this a shock upon arrival if you research into the area. You will, therefore, have prepared yourself adequately for the terrain.
Preparedness will most definitely make travelling alone much easier and far more relaxing.
Have you travelled alone before? Share your experience here.