April 18, 2013

Tips for Solo Travelers

Travelers often speak of adventure sports and dare devil trajectories, yet solo travelling is one of the most challenging forms of travel with the comfort of friends and family and the ‘home sweet home’ feel, left aside. A true soul searching experience calls for some quality time spent with self and nothing can be more enlightening that having to manage oneself on a foreign land. Exploring new cultures and lands alone in itself is, no less than an adventure. Let’s embark on what could possibly be needed in the preparatory phase.

Being alone when travelling calls for fighting evils like loneliness, boredom and the ever troublesome issue of safety. Especially if you are a woman and have a family back home that is naturally worried for you, for obvious reasons. Very often, you might land yourself in situations where you feel weird dining or attending a show alone, exploring a city at night time or having to take public transport from an unusual neighborhood. You could probably start by knowing your inner strengths. If you are an extrovert and good at judging people, it will be difficult to take you for a ride, in which case, safety won’t be so much of a concern. Try reading up on the places you are planning to visit and acquaint yourself with the local customs. More importantly, localities to avoid, especially if you are travelling late night and are a woman. Lonely planet guides or local government tourist offices are the most reliable resource for information. You could even hire a local guide at times for company or have pre-established contacts through Youth Hostels or CouchSurfing. Got to be a bit vigilant though! Carry a laptop if you can, make free calls via VoIP and Skype as internet hotspots are generally around every corner in bigger cities. You folks back home will stay assured and you will get a break from self! Connectivity these days is not so much of a hassle as there are a lot of operators offering good international calling service. Buy a local card on arrival as it will turn out to be cheaper.

If you are more of an introvert, you could go in for other passive forms of entertainment rather than people-to-people interaction. Bigger cities with sit around cafes and parks and a good option as you will rarely be bothered. Carry a book on you, have a cuppa cappuccino and you are good to observe! Nothing more soothing than to watch cultures that are so varied and yet, so interesting! Have your accommodation options worked out before hand as hunting for one in less tourist-friendly places can be a pain. Youth Hostels are a great place to crash in as you will often meet like-minded people and a friendly concierge will even give you free tickets to bus rides, if you get lucky! Places that more used to tourists will also have a well-developed chain of dormitories or bed-and-breakfasts. Try and check up a little on reviews before booking though. Learn to be stern with people giving unwanted attention as at times, this can be a trouble-maker. Try not to look too lost as locals can read you very easily. If you have your itinerary planned in detail, you don’t have to worry much about ‘managing’ things on your way. If you are in a true exploration mode, which is also good for a change, have all basic documentation and cards on you as also all emergency contacts to avoid any unpleasant surprises. Lastly, carry things that please you, on you, to survive this kind of a travel. It could be a good book, music or a camera!

Remember, you are treating yourself, so let it be the best ever!

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