Why travelling solo can be one of the best things you'll ever do
3 January 2014
SCARED of travelling solo? Don't be. Holidaying alone could turn into the trip of a lifetime if you take these tips on board.
TRAVELLING alone is in. It's so cool everybody's going to start doing it soon. I mean who needs a partner or friends when it's so fun to be on your own?
The reality is ... that's probably not true. However, more and more people are still travelling on their own.
There's a trend towards women travelling alone, and in response to this trend hotels, resorts, tour companies and even flight carriers are creating and updating products to appeal to the new market.
If you're new to it, I'll tell you a secret - it's not half as scary as it looks. Here are 10 tips to turn a (potentially) scary trip into an amazing one.
1) Talk to the locals
It's easy. Just walk up and say hello. The worst that can happen is you'll get ignored, or laughed at. The best? You could make a new friend and gain valuable insider knowledge about wherever you are (locals always know the top places to go). Of course, remember to be safe (see point nine).
2) Embrace eating alone
The first time you dine alone can be daunting, especially when you walk in and the waiter asks how many people are going to be dining ... and you smile (ever so confidently, of course) as you mumble one. The first few times I ate alone I fiddled around on my phone, awkwardly pretended I had heaps of people messaging me, but then one night I challenged myself to go without my phone. I slowly ate my food, drank a couple of glasses of nice wine and watched everyone else. The more I dined alone the more I noticed that waiters were more attentive and happy to chat, and now I really love eating solo.
3) Don't be afraid to look like a dork
Simply because it's fun. Why not? And remember you're alone so there's no one there to laugh at you (except people who don't know you, which it totally fine). If you take photos you can choose to show people at home at a later time, or not at all, or show everyone online if you dare.
4) Take lots of photos
Photos equal memories, and since you won't have anyone else reminding you about what you did and where, the photos you take will be your best reminder. Take hundreds of photos, take thousands - the beauty of digital cameras is that you can. If you ask strangers if you can take photos of them they will often say yes, and you might even make a friend (double points for a local who becomes a friend). Children almost always agree, just make sure their parents are OK with it.
5) Ask randoms to take photos of you
It's another way to meet people, but also you'll cherish the memories when you look back upon them. There are only so many photos of sights, buildings, streets and people you can take until they all blur into one. It's photos of yourself that will jump out at you in years to come. Also by asking strangers to take photos of you implies you did meet people - so even if you didn't you can pretend you did.
6) Go wherever you want and do whatever you want
Even if it's Paris, or Venice, or some other city that no one checks in at alone. If you're single and dreaming of picnicking on baguettes and cheese in Paris, or whiling away an afternoon as your gondola "driver" weaves in and out of canals - just do it. Life is short and there's nothing wrong with taking the experience and embracing it - alone.
7) Try new things
Try things you wouldn't try at home (as long as they're safe). Whether it's horse riding or quad biking, or something more extreme like scuba diving or skydiving, if it's something you've always wanted to do then go ahead and book it in. However, don't forget to make sure your guide/teacher understands you (and vice versa) and ensure the experience is safe.
8) Make an effort when going out
Even if you're going out alone, you're still going out. If you usually wear makeup out to dinner then apply makeup. If you like frocks pack them. I'm a firm believer in taking what you wear at home when you travel. Why save the best clothing for a later date when you might be visiting some of the most amazing attractions in the world while travelling?
9) Be safe
This one is obvious, but really important. Travelling alone can be riskier and you always need to put your safety before anything else. Register where you are going with your embassy, keep friends and relatives in the loop with your itinerary, watch your drinks, be careful walking around alone at night and pay attention to local customs to make sure you are behaving appropriately.
10) Have fun
If you're travelling, you're probably seeing some pretty amazing sights and doing things that you might not have the chance to do at home. Just flow with it, relax and have fun.