I think I have wanderlust in my soul. If I have no trips booked or adventures planned I get that urge to run away and travel the world. Recently I have been lucky enough to be able to travel to some amazing places. But these trips have been solo.
Solo Travel. While I did travel solo I was never alone.
This may seem like a funny statement but it is one that is somewhat true. I was always connected. It is the wonderful thing about 21st century travel. The internet is just a click away.
I checked maps; translated words, booked taxis and of course kept in contact with friends and family at home. Solo travel, pushed me out of my comfort zone, in a good way. I have always been independent with day trips to London at 15/16 but then I met Kevin and we started traveling together. Traveling alone took an accidental back step. I had someone to lean on, someone to ask for advice, someone to hide behind walking down that dodgy ginnel and someone for company. 9 years later I am back adventuring independently.
Now I am taking 13 hour flights alone and have done 5 trips solo and this is what I’ve learnt.
Plan Plan Plan for your first solo adventure
Transport: I am an over planner and much to some people annoyance I like to be early. This includes to the airport. I love airports, I truly do. They’re like little cities all of their own. As a traveller though I want to be through security and relaxing a good few hours before my flight. Namely with a glass of gin. Yes even at 7am. I find planning ahead allows me to be less stressed. I am there, I know what airport/railway station I need to be at, what time my plane/train leaves and how long it will take me to get there with traffic. You can’t control everything but if you’re alone a little extra time will stop you rushing and been a flustered mess.
Location: I always do a bit of research into the different areas where I will be visiting. Like any big town or city there will be areas that are not great after dark. Use your common sense, if you get to a part of town that feels a bit shady it probably will be. Just leave. I’m pretty sure that local dish isn’t worth been scared witless for, trust your gut. Maybe even return in the day time if you really want see what’s going on.
Taxis: With the invention of Uber you can get a safe(ish) taxi almost anywhere in the world. Often in places it is not recommended to hail a cab. (Some unscrupulous taxis will charge tourists extra and other scary tales found on the internet). Always research but don’t become paranoid. In Kuala Lumpur I used the Grab app. Uber esk, with the ability to track your ride.
Clothing: It always helps to be respectful and mindful of how women dress in the country you are visiting dress. This also goes for visiting temples and places of worship. Seeing tourists choice of attire at a temple recently made me cringe. It took me all of 5mins to googling before I left, to find that shoulders should be covered, as well as knees. So I wore a longer dress. I still stood out and had some unwanted attention but at least I was culturally appropriate.
Unfortunately on a recent trip to Kuala Lumpur, I attracted some unwanted attention. I will just put it out there that it did not make me feel unsafe, but at times it was uncomfortable. My bright blue hair does attract people and conversation, but here in the UK most people are very polite and pass a nice comment and smile. In Kuala Lumpur, this was totally the opposite. I had numerous people come up and ask to take a photo with me.
Oh, there was also a taxi driver saying he had seen me near the hotel earlier in the day (yes that one was a bit creepy). But I just smiled and let them take a quick photo. It was easier and a little nicer then them trying to sneak a picture. One young couple were very sweet and very excited and giggly. If it makes you uncomfortable just say no and remove yourself from the situation though.
There were of course moments when solo travel is daunting and scary but these moments were over ridden by the memories of exploring a new place.
On a last and final note. Sometimes I asked other people to take my photo sometimes a selfie in the location would just do. Be smart if handing over your phone or camera to grab a shot, look for the right person. Another person with a big DSLR camera, someone of the same generation maybe your best bet. Just use your common sense here folks.
Do you have any tips on solo travel? I would love to hear them!