'Travel is never a matter of money, but of courage'Talk is cheap so stop telling yourself you are going to do it and just do it(as Nike used to say). But, where do you even start? Before we even get very far in to this, you need to decide on where to go! Contrary to what a lot of people believe, solo doesn’t just mean travel outside the country. It can also be inland travel. I spent a lot of my late teens exploring parts of the UK on my own and even took my nieces too from time to time. Exploring Wales, Scotland, and parts of England on my own before I ventured off to other parts of the world on my own! Yes, exploring your own country counts as solo, so why are so many guys and girls so afraid to explore without a companion?Travel planning for trips with friends and family can be tough with trying to figure out when and where to go, factoring what you are going to do and where you staying, fitting in people's budgets and what they like to see and do. See, just talking about it is tiring enough. Even worse, when you do all that planning and people cancel! I love travelling with compadres, but love my solo trips just as much. The freedom to go where I want, when I want and how long, stay where I want. This is all a breath of fresh air. We do so much for others through the year, whether you are at work or home, so solo trips are another way to re-group and do you, for you! Like the quote above says, it’s not about money but courage. So for those that haven’t embarked on a solo trip yet I thought I would help you out a little. Having travelled as far as Australia's Sydney, Hong Kong, parts or Europe and UK on my own I may just have picked up a thing or two to get you started! So here are tips to get you going on the first solo trip.
1. Decide on a city.Decide on where you want to go. Whether it’s that beautiful national park in the US you have been trying to visit, a city getaway in London, or retracing Roman ruins in that Italian cities, going far East for a taste of Oriental culture. Once you are settled on where your heart’s desire then get planning on whether this journey of self-discovery requires a train or a flight. Some times were you go can be best on what flight deals you stumble on.
2. Book Your Flights! Be Mindful of Arrival times.
Once you have set your mind to doing this, it’s time to start searching for those flights. I had previously shared a post on how I travel and that detailed how I search for some of the cheapest flights. As well as checking out sights like Secret Flying, Flight Deals, Flight Scanner and my all-time favourite is Google flights which can find me the cheapest flights to various destinations for the budget I have or country. This also allows you to play around with your cities you leave from and arrive at without play about with lots of websites. Note that you will need to be mindful of your flight arrival time. Many a time I have arrived at night but plan ahead how you will get to your hotel if arriving at night. My arrival in Hong Kong was at 3am, I didn’t mind that because I had booked a hotel that had free shuttle buses right to the door of the hotel.
3. Choose your style of accommodation
There are many options to choose from; Airbnb, hotels, hostels. I would recommend first time solo travels to go for options like couch surfing or anything similar like that. Choose a hostel or hotel means you have plenty of access to people should you need advice on what to see and do in your choose city as well as the opportunity to meet like-minded travels. As far as Airbnb is concerned I have used it both on my own as well as travels with my boyfriend. All of our hosts have been friendly and welcoming. I also tend to book the whole apartment that way I have it all to myself for a bit of home away from home feel to it. Choosing your accommodation pretty much depends on what’s available when you book as well as your style of travel. All offer amazing savings options if you have a limited budget.
4. Budget.Decide how much you want to spend on accommodation, on flights, on transport and food. These will also be estimate at most as you won’t know for such how much you will spend on food, or transport until you get there but through research of your chosen destination, you can guess roughly how much will go on food and activities.
5. Flight arrival times and Hotel Locations
Arriving at night in a new city, is your transport sorted do you know how to easily get yourself from airport to hotel if arriving after midnight. Example of your flight arriving in Hong Kong at 3am. With hotel having shuttles from airport to hotel door. One thing to bear in mind is where its located. Is it near easy transport links, does it look safe if you were return in in the evening? Use Trip advisor, google street view and anything at your disposable to get as much information as possible. This also puts you at ease as well as gives your insight on whether everything is within walking distances to places worth exploring, in which case you save money on transportation.
6. Safety First…but pack what only what you need.
Ok, just because you have planned a solo trip doesn’t mean you now have to raid your weapons closet and take all the ammunition with you too. Also bear in mind that items that make you feel safe are illegal in some countries. Credit card shaped knifes made out of plastic and pepper spray may make you feel safe but they are illegal in other country, like the UK for example. Only the Police are allowed to carry pepper spray. You may be able to walk around with pepper spray in your bag in other countries like the USA, but that is illegal in the UK same goes for the little cards that open out into a shape blade. Instead consider personal alarms.
ROBOCOPP Personal AlarmThis is an SOS personal alarm with a 120 decibel siren. The siren will sound for 30 mins non-stop unless you return the pin. I love that it is small and comes with a carabiner to easily clip to a belt loop or bag. Perfect to scare off any one attempting to threaten your personal space. Its not just for travel, you can us it the device on college/university campus, or a crowded city against petty thieves, attackers, or in the outdoors to repel aggressive wild life and signal for help if stranded. They come in a variety of colours too. Check out their store online: ROBOCOPP.COM
EasyLockThe EasyLock is a simple but incredibly strong temporary door lock. Incredibly simple to install, only seconds to activate, the Easy Lock will prevent anyone, even with a key, from opening the door. This means that if you are staying away from home in a hotel, rental home or apartment, student dormitory or even if you need extra security on your own home on a door that may not have it’s own lock the Easy Lock will hold the door secure. Additionally the EasyLock has a unique feature which means that if someone knocks on the door and you are not sure who they are you can easily open the door sufficiently to identify them or receive a note or identification.
Travel BraThe Travel Bra is made of a number of secret pockets and a drop down pouch to hold your passport. Perfect for travel, The Travel Bra™ is made from organic cotton & bamboo fabric is anti-microbacterial & highly breathable. Ultra-soft bindings, wide shoulder straps, flat seams, no under-wire and no scratchy labels or hook & eye to press into your back. With hidden pockets for passport, cards, cash.
7. Planning For The unthinkableNo one ever plans to lose their belongings or have their stuff stolen but these things can happen. So what would you do it that did happen? You can take safety precautions such as; Splitting your money and documents and store close to your body or better yet leave in your hotel room safe box. Make copies of your travel documents and email them to yourself or store them on a cloud drive. Also make sure you have travel insurance that covers for stolen or lost items, repatriation or hospital cover should you fall ill. Travel insurance is not that expensive and yet there are many people that travel without it. It’s almost as important as you documents! So don’t travel without it.
8. Share Your Plans
When you do this, your friends and family might want to tag along but you are planning on a solo trip then say this is a trip for just you, yourself and maybe Irene. Sharing your itinerary means that they know where you are should anything happen. This is also re-assuring for your friends and family who might have conjured up all sorts of monsters from the universe to deter you from venturing out into this big ‘ol beautiful world. You can keep them update via whatever means which are easier for. This in a way also creates a pattern on communication, which is easy to notice if you suddenly stop communications.
9. Learn To Eenjoy Your Own Company
Travelling alone doesn’t need to be awkward when eating out. I go to cafes and restaurants on my own when I am travelling solo. Yes, and I don’t feel bad or shy about it. Doing what you want and you want also extends to places you eat. So go and try out those crazy hawker stalls, or that fancy restaurant with the sea views. The key is owning it! Sit straight and sip that glass of wine and make a toast to yourself for having the courage to get out there and travel on your own.
10. Get inspired and pack by your style of trip and destination.
If watching Eat, Pray, Love gets your juices flowing then watch that and a lot of other travel themed movies as well as read travel blogs and travel magazine to get you fired up and inspired on things to see and do as well as what you need for these activities. Then throw all that energy into packing only what you need and get going! If you are travelling for the weekend then keep it light. If traveling for longer then work on outfits that are versatile and easy to match that way you can take a decent sized bag that won’t feel as if you are lagging around another person each time you move around the place you are visiting.