Travel Top 5: Tips for solo travellers
With St. Valentine’s Day fast approaching, travel marketers are working themselves into a frenzy with special offers for couples, but what about people who travel alone?
In case you didn’t know, February 14 (or, for some, the 13th or 15th) is also Singles Awareness Day, a date set aside to remind the world that not everyone is in a romantic relationship and that there are plenty of people enjoying the single life.
Many travellers will tell you that travelling alone is one of the best ways to see the world. It forces you to get out of your comfort zone, allowing you to do things you wouldn’t otherwise do and meet people that you wouldn’t have if you were travelling with someone else.
For those who have never travelled solo, Jodi Ettenberg, the force behind the popular travel blog Legal Nomads, has compiled a list of tips for meeting people and travelling safely in mind. What follows are her words of advice:
1. SAFETY FIRST
I generally recommend travelling with a safety whistle (good for not only getting attention when needed, but also scaring off monkeys in a pinch) and a doorstop to wedge inside your guesthouse room at night to give extra peace of mind that the door will stay shut while you sleep.
2. JOIN A TOUR
Many women write me afraid to travel solo and ask for advice. I often recommend that they join an organized tour first, and then keep on after alone. As a G Adventures Wanderer in Residence I have the opportunity to join their trips. I recently hopped on one of their India trips for this reason — two weeks with them, and then explored Delhi after on my own.
Travelling with a small-group in the company of others and a tour leader with local knowledge offers additional peace of mind. The logistics are taken care of so you can focus on enjoying the experience.
3. MEET OTHERS ONLINE
Online meetups are quite common and a good way to cross paths with travellers and expats alike in a group setting. When I first arrived in Vietnam, I checked for meetups in the area and went to one for people who love food, and another for people who wanted to exchange languages. Oftentimes the people you meet in those group settings are connectors to others in town.
4. DRESS APPROPRIATELY
Dress the part. Whether male or female, if understanding the place you visit is on the agenda, a great way to further communication is to make an effort to dress respectfully. This doesn’t mean copying elaborate local wear, but to mimic gently. Locals will appreciate it, and I’ve found myself invited to join meals far more frequently when dressed the part.
5. GET OUT OF YOUR BUBBLE
Pick guesthouses with a large common area. It is always interesting to meet other travellers, and a great way to do so is via your guesthouse. With large common areas for chatting or reading, getting food tips or exchanging travel questions is simple. Oftentimes, I’ll end up crossing paths with a few people later on, sharing a meal or an evening on the town. (Note, too, that if people outside your guesthouse ask you where you are staying as you are wandering around, it is wise to be vague. I am wary of giving too much information about my whereabouts when traveling alone.