Words by Kylie McDaneld
April 11th, 2019
Familiarise yourself not only with the local public transportation systems, but also the layout of the city itself. Figure out what is most important for you to do or see while you’re there before booking anything. Look up local restaurants, activities, and attractions and mark the ones you want to see on a map. By doing this, you can create a visual guide for where you should book your hotel. Find the largest concentration of attractions and plan to stay either near enough to walk or figure out transportation ahead of time.
2. Research hotels, hostels, and Airbnb
Buying a hotel room for just one can be pricey, especially with some places charging fees for solo travellers. Budget for your own preference. If you want to stay in a hotel, plan to budget slightly more for that so there are no surprises. If you want to save money, make sure to research hostels and Airbnb before booking. A lot of time, sites will immediately suggest the cheapest shared accommodation even though there are much better ones for roughly the same price. Prioritise. You get to choose what is most important to you, which is what makes travelling alone so freeing.
After you book a place to stay, start mapping out what you want your days to look like. Do you want to get up early and sightsee or do you want a later start with more nightlife? Roughly plan activities for each day. Group activities by their proximity to one another, and don’t forget to give yourself time to eat! Once you’re happy with your itinerary, it doesn’t hurt to give it to a friend or family member so that they know approximately where you will be. By planning your days based on location, you can feel more confident knowing that someone knows the area you will be in.
4. Pack light
Try to limit yourself to only what you can take on the plane. Check the weather and plan your outfits accordingly. It’s beneficial to bring versatile items that you can use more than once. Airports are usually fairly far from the city centre, so travelling light means you will able to take public transportation to and from the airport which will save you a ton of money on cab fares.
The best thing you can do is engage with your surroundings. It’s natural to want to put your headphones in and go into your own world when you’re alone but by being present you will be able to actually enjoy and savour in what you’re doing. At first, it’s natural to be self-conscious but you will quickly get used to it. Being present allows you the opportunity to engage with the city and its residents, and to experience new cultures.
6. Only carry the bare minimum with you
Even if you take every precaution, there are still people looking to pickpocket tourists. Don’t give them anything to target! Attach a cardholder to the back of your phone and keep one form of photo identification, one credit card, and as minimal cash as you need. Keep your phone somewhere that you can feel it all times or in your hand so that you know where it is. This way you only have one item to keep track of, and it’s the one thing you are likely to pay the most attention to.
7. Ask questions and make eye contact
On top of taking your headphones out, don’t be afraid to ask the locals questions. Standing around looking confused makes you much more vulnerable than if you stop into a store and ask the clerk for directions. Making eye contact can be very important when travelling alone because it shows that you are alert and observant. Making eye contact is a simple habit to get into but one which will give you an air of confidence and deter many pick-pocketers looking for an easy target.
8. Take lots of pictures
Since you’re already paying attention to where your phone is, you might as well put it to good use! Take lots of photos of everything. You’re going to want to remember this trip for yourself, and you’re going to want to share it with your friends and family. Take some selfies, take photos of the scenery, post on your Instagram story… Document the trip how you want to remember it, but document it nonetheless!
9. Don’t be afraid to go out alone
If you’ve never experienced going out without your social group and drinking alone before, this is prime time to try it. Find a nice pub and get a good seat at the bar early on in the night. New people will file in and out all night, and before you know it you’re likely to be striking up conversations with the bartender, people next to you, and maybe someone incredibly interesting. This is a great way to talk to locals and get fantastic inside information on the city while forming some great social connections — just remember to drink sensibly and keep the previous tips in mind.
10. Do everything you want to do
The most important tip is to do what you want to do. Travelling alone is an experience for you so don’t be afraid to really follow your own desires. You get to make all the decisions on this trip, and there is nothing stopping you from stepping out of your comfort zone, or from finding a new comfort zone. You don’t realise how many decisions you make for others until you are free from that pressure. Take this time for yourself and honour your own wants! Wherever your travels take you, just make the most of your time and enjoy exploring a new place all by yourself.
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