Going Abroad Alone? Advice for Solo Travel
Contributed by @TeeXCI
Solo travel is something that some people very regularly do and others have never experienced. The idea of solo travel used to be farfetched in my own mind as I wasn't used to doing things on my own.
I always thought I needed a travel partner or go abroad with a group in order to enjoy myself and create great memories but whenever good travel opportunities came up, it seemed like nobody was available to go with me.
Fears may arise
It's unnerving for some people to travel alone. Some assume that they may not have a great experience or get into some mishaps during the journey.
Especially as a young woman, the world outside my home city can be unsafe and scary so the thoughts and feelings of travelling by myself did discourage me for a while.
Set travel aims
It's only when I embarked on my #12Countries12Months travel goal in 2015 that I used that opportunity to force myself to visit some countries on my own and battle inner fears.
Prior to that goal, I only visited a handful of places outside the UK including two European countries.
Going to Belgium was the first destination I went to on my own as I wanted to start with a country closer to home. The short trip gave me a new sense of confidence, independence and more urge to keep exploring different destinations around the world.
Have a travel plan
Whether it's your first or tenth solo trip, I encourage you to have a good travel plan. Even if it's planning your days abroad strategically or having an all out impulse journey, ensure that the sights you want to see and the activities you want to do are covered.
You'd want to make the most of your solo trips so I would always prioritise the particular areas, landmarks and activities I'd want to see and do so they're not missed out.
Explore exciting locations
To date, I've travelled to seven countries by myself. Each solo experience has been memorable, including night walks in the central Tokyo streets, watching beautiful sunsets in Santorini, crossing fjords in Oslo and visiting remarkable UNESCO heritage sites in Kyoto.
Some of the places I've been to on my own have been on my travel wish list for years, so having the opportunity to visit those countries has been a sweet reward.
I've come across helpful and engaging locals & fellow tourists during each journey and it's safe to say that they've made me feel truly welcome.
Treat the destination like it's home
Any place I visit, I try to treat the location as if it was home, which gives me comfort and freedom to roam around happily and come across hidden gems within cities and islands.
Any scenario I'm in whilst abroad, I always think what would I do if I was back in the UK? Simple things like not staying out too late in the evening, eating local comfort food and using public transport allowed me to easily adapt to the different environments I've been in.
Learn the customs and a few foreign phrases
Now it's not completely necessary but it's so helpful knowing some basic phrases and local customs prior to visiting a different country.
It's definitely more appreciated when trying to communicate with local people as you have taken the time and effort to learn their language. Some would show their gratitude for simply trying.
Be vocal, be open and have fun
As introverted as I am, travelling solo has forced me to be vocal in case I ever got lost, wanted someone to take pictures for me or even asking about food recommendations.
It's good to be sociable as it makes the solo experience so much easier when meeting and conversing with the locals and other travellers too, making the solo travel experience fun and enjoyable.
I feel that travelling solo has given an introvert like me more confidence and fire in my belly to really get out and see more of the world.
Now, I find myself encouraging friends, family members and fellow young people to embark on a solo trip one day. You never know what you can discover by yourself.