By DEBORAH GRACE HADY.
If you have Instagram, you’re bound to see those beautiful travel photos up on someone’s feed with the hashtag #adventure or #wanderlust. They’ll probably make you want to pack your bag and catch the next flight to anywhere.
But before you travel, you need to know what you’re doing – especially if you’re a first-time solo traveller.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you and your wanderlust soul covered. Here are some first-hand solo travel tips that you won’t see beneath those filters on Insta.
#1. Not everyone is as nice as you think.
As a person who loves being around people, this is breaking my heart to write. However, in my travels, I’ve had my phone stolen in Belgium and I’ve been ripped off in China – over some very comfortable pants that cost a fraction of what I paid.
The world is full of people with hearts of gold, and the people you meet in your travels will generally be the nicest and most welcoming people ever. However, be wary of those who aren’t.
When you’re travelling in places with lots of tourists, get to know how the locals work. Some will, sadly, triple the price of your souvenir once they find out you’re a gullible tourist.
Be nice, but not naïve. Trust everyone and no one.
#2. Ditch the “I love ___” t-shirts.
They’re good for souvenirs, but are walking advertisements yelling “Scam me, I’m a tourist”. Just don’t take the chance!
#3. Keep in contact with your family and friends – and do it often.
Leave a copy of your travel plans with a trusted loved one. It’s tempting to just up and go – see the seven wonders without telling a soul – but it is much safer when someone knows where you are, on what day.
Update your family and friends of your travel plans – they’d want to know what you’re up to anyway!
#4. Safeguard your documents
Make sure you always have your documents around you: your passport, ID, etc. Make extra copies if you need to, or take pictures of them on your phone.
Memorise the hostel/hotel/motel/wherever you are staying at, or write it down on a piece of paper. Have a copy of your emergency contacts with you!
Leave a copy of your documents as well as any other important information (itinerary, where you are staying) with family back home. In the worst case scenario, they have your document numbers.
#5. It’s okay to dine alone
Dining alone always has that lonely vibe, but it is okay to eat alone!
While you’ll meet many friends during your travels, you’ll often have to eat alone. Don’t be put off by it.
Cafes with outdoor seating, communal tables/counters are common with solo travellers and they beat those expensive fancy dinner date restaurants, anyway.
If you’re still worried about eating alone (this is actually common amongst solo travellers), then have a mini picnic outside while you people watch, or grab some pizzas to munch on as you take on the sights.
#6. Make it respectable
For first nights at least, or if you’re a first-time traveller, stay in a respected brand hostel or hotel, such as YHA. You’ll avoid getting caught out by dodgy places when you’re really green in a new place. The price difference is often small and well worth it for a couple of nights. Once you know the lay of the land, you can take more educated risks – but remember to always go safety first!
#7. Register with SafeTravel
This can be a life saver in an emergency situation! Take a moment to register via the box on the right hand side.
Remember to always stay safe, and keep to public, open spaces. Make new friends, talk to the locals, get to know their customs. Once the travel bug bites you, there is no going back. It will be amazing, and you will learn a lot about yourself and the world. However, the reality is that it will not always be as rosy-tinted as you see when you scroll through those beautiful IG pictures. Don’t let that put you off. Go at it, my friends!
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