Solo travel tips from a seasoned pro
Izzy Stackpool draws on her personal experience to bring you some top tips for solo travelling
Having recently done my first big stint of solo travelling I’m feeling full of advice. The main thing you’ll quickly realise once embarking on your journey is just how much you rely on other people for things. Experiencing that independence of travelling alone can be daunting but is a great way to learn just how capable you as an individual really are. While travelling alone can be stressful, at the end of the day it can be one of the most rewarding things ever, so here’s how to pull it off!
It’s hard to put into words just how overwhelming it can be to set foot in a completely new country or city, especially alone. That’s when you quickly learn that you only have yourself to rely on. So here’s what you do – plan, plan and plan! Knowing where you need to go and how you’re going to get there takes so much weight off your shoulders. Use your best pal Google to find out what public transport to take in advance removes a lot of stress from the equation (I learned that the hard way.). Another big recommendation of mine is to get a cheap sim card while you’re away. While you might think it’s worth giving a miss, you can generally find a cheap and cheerful one aimed at tourists, that’ll definitely get you out of a pickle a few times. Thank me later!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Sometimes you just get into a situation where the map seems to make no sense and your sense of direction is nowhere to be found. When all else fails, just pluck up the courage to ask an approachable looking local. Generally speaking if you’re polite and friendly, most people are happy to help you out with some quick directions. This saved my butt more times than I can count.
Avoid tourist traps
There are always ‘must-see’ locations in any place you visit, and they are often swarmed with tourists: there’s no getting around that. But when choosing where to eat I say take the adventurous path. It’s a bit of a travelling cliché, but if restaurants have big signs in English with pictures of the food out the front (depending on where in the world you are) I would say avoid. The café/restaurant that seems packed with locals will always have the better food, trust me.
Book online and/or in advance
In my experience, booking flights and trains in advance will save you money. Especially with trains, buying a ticket for a specific train or time the week before will be cheaper than getting it at the station. My other tip for money saving – free walking tours. Just Google it for whatever city you’re in and most of the time there are ones in English at some point during the day (make sure to leave a lil tip for your guide).
The right mindset
At the end of the day stuff will go wrong. That’s just how life works. So be prepared… and when something doesn’t go according to plan, don’t freak out. Stay level-headed, think rationally and breathe. Easier said than done, but you got this. My travelling mantras I developed were ‘nothing goes to plan’ but also ‘here for a good time not a long time’.
Isabelle ‘Izzy’ Stackpool is in her third year at UTS, double-majoring in Journalism and Public Relations. Her passions include travel, sushi and kittens.