Whether you are an introvert who revels in the comfort of being alone or simply want a peaceful break from your hectic routine, travelling solo is a great idea. You may be wondering why anyone would choose to travel by themselves, when you can so easily go on a short trip to the hinterlands with friends?. The truth is travelling alone is an incredibly fulfilling experience, one that teaches you so many things – from being self-reliant to embracing your personal space.
Here are some important tips you should take note of before travelling anywhere by yourself.
1. Get a map
Whether you are visiting a quaint seaport or trekking up a hill, a traveller’s best friend is a map of their place of intended travel. Not Google maps; mind you, as a solo traveller you should never be reliant on Google maps, which should be reserved only for emergency. You shouldn’t rely on Google maps because firstly, your phone might run out of battery when you need it, and secondly, it will not improve your sense of direction. It is indeed a highly convenient device with even a pointer that tracks your location and guides you to the exact point you want to get to, but using that will not help you build your navigation skills that are extremely handy when you are visiting a new place. What you need is a good old physical map – you could print it off the Internet or get one from a visitor centre at the destination site itself. Consulting a map while moving about will enhance your awareness of the new location tremendously. It is completely natural to lose your way, but stay calm and figure out where exactly you are on the map and slowly make your way around.
2. Be thorough on the journey routes
While exploring the destination is important, it is equally important that you know exactly how to get there. If you are taking a bus, you should know the exact route number of the bus and the stop number where you are boarding beforehand. If you are taking the train, ensure you know the exact time of departure from the station well in advance. You should try to never be in a situation whereby you have to find out these finer details on the day of your travel. Also, make sure you check when the last train or bus are leaving – you do not want to be left stranded!
3. Get a portable charger (and the correct connecting wires)
You should bring along your phone when you travel for a few reasons: you will take photographs and videos, you might want to Google up the important sites to visit (it is advisable you make a list of this before you travel to save time), you might need to contact someone during an emergency and you might need to use Google maps as a last resort. For these reasons, your phone’s battery cannot die. Charge your portable charger in advance and bring it with you, along with the correct connecting wires. It would be very infuriating to realise that you had brought the wrong wire but have a fully-charged (and unusable!) charger, when your battery is down to 3%!
4. Wear proper clothing and footwear
This is a bit of an obvious one, but it is also very sensible advice. Do not wear your best cream satin blouse when you go on a hike, even if it is supposedly a relatively easy one, because you never know when things might get rainy and mucky. I would advise comfortable, cotton clothing for all kinds of trips. Ladies, as far as shoes are concerned, avoid wearing heels. You can reserve them for formal events and date nights. Even if you aren’t trekking, simply walking unexpected distances in new places in heels will make your feet ache to the point where you genuinely consider walking barefoot. Stick to your trusty old boots or closed-toe shoes when you travel alone.
5. Remember snacks and water
While it may be relatively easy to find a café or bistro where you can get food, you never know when you might need something to munch on. This is especially true for those anyone with issues with hypoglycaemia; you may find that you suddenly become light-headed after walking for a while. Always bring some food items and a water bottle (or two). That being said, packing light is also important so don’t overdo it!
6. Check the weather and climatic conditions
You might have made an exciting itinerary to explore a certain town or national park, but what good is that in the (likely!) event of a downpour? Always check the weather forecast before you select your day of travel. Also, do not forget to check the time of sunset for the day you are travelling – you wouldn’t want to be stuck halfway up a mountain when it’s 5.18 p.m. and pitch dark.
7. Document your travel
It need not be like an article you would write for a Lonely Planet magazine, but it is a great idea to write about your travel in detail once you’re back home and your trip is still fresh in your memory. You could maintain a diary or blog about it. You may decide to visit this place again, alone or with others, after months or even years. Without a record of your travel you might not remember all the interesting locations and street names that you explored. As such, re-visiting your diary entry or blog post will help you recollect the various things you did and will act as a guide if you visit the place again.
Happy solo travelling– it will be an experience you will not forget.
Mallika Venkatramani – LifeStyle Writer