Scared to take the plunge and travel solo? Don’t be!
There are so many ways to overcome your fears of travelling alone. My sister has recently booked a few days in Budapest on her own as no one was able to go with her, and I’m so proud that she’s doing it anyway!
When I decided to take a gap year before going to university, I wanted to do something fairly independently (i.e. without friends, family, or anyone I knew) but also something that wouldn’t be throwing myself into the deep end. I also really wanted to volunteer abroad with some sort of wildlife conservation, and after discussing this with a friend in Sixth Form she recommended a company she had already booked a trip with called Plan My Gap Year. I’ve already written an article on the whole experience of volunteering in Sri Lanka, so if you want to check that out first, then click here!
This was the perfect first-time experience of sort of travelling alone and sort of not… I flew out there on my own and had no idea what would be waiting for me at the other end, and the first few days were pretty daunting getting to know other volunteers, arranging tuk tuks around town, navigating the bus systems with little help, and settling into life in a country thousands of miles away!
But after those first few days, I didn’t feel so alone. We all quickly banded together and ended up travelling around the country on our weekends off. I’m so glad I decided to do a volunteer project before committing to a big solo adventure as it gave me a taste of what it might be like and I learned to be really aware at all times, careful with my money and belongings, and the basic rules of traveller etiquette.
So don’t be afraid of solo travel, just take it in small steps and build up to it if you’re unsure or apprehensive. Here’s my top five tips that will help prepare for a solo trip, whether it’s 3 days or 3 months!
1. Research thoroughly – this includes a whole bunch of information stuff…
- Know exactly where you’re going
- Take some local currency with you
- Ask your GP what vaccinations you might need
- Find the best travel insurance deal
- Check if you need a pre-arranged visa (and check your passport is in date!)
- Learn about the religion/culture and take appropriate clothing with you (this is so important and I will expand on this at a later date in a specific blog post!)
- Know where is safe to go after dark
- Put the local emergency services number in your phone
- Book your first night so you have somewhere to go when you arrive
- Look at typical ‘backpacker’ spots, or places where you might meet other solo travellers
3. Learn the language – I don’t mean become fluent, just learn a few basics like ‘hello’, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and it will not only help you but also be appreciated by the locals
4. If you’re going for a long time, maybe ask around if friends or family might come meet you for a few days somewhere
5. Budget sensibly – I will be doing another blog post soon about how to fundraise for travelling so watch this space!
The best part of solo travel is making amazing friends and stepping out of your comfort zone. My experiences at such a young age were really significant to my personal growth and my confidence grew so much. And because of my volunteering, I ended up going for 3 months to Southeast Asia with a friend I’d met there. So give it a go! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – leave a comment or contact me via email or Instagram!