Travelling solo can be an exciting and daunting prospect. It's an amazing step towards independence, can build your confidence to levels you never knew it could hit and you discover as much in yourself as you do in the world around you.
But at the same time, it's nerve wracking. There's no safety net of another person there to offer an opinion, to walk with you into the busy streets, to help you find the best transport to the next town over. You're very self-reliant in these situations. Which is why we've put together some fo our best tips for solo travellers to blend in and look like a local while solo adventuring!
Do your research
We can’t stress this one enough. Lots of people who travel alone can be free-wheelers, free spirits who are optimistic and confident in themselves. But when things go wrong, a lack of research can have dangerous consequences. Being prepared and aware of the layout, customs, money and culture of wherever you’re visiting will not only mean you spend less time scrambling trying to figure out where to go, but it also means you’ll look like less of a tourist and therefore be less of a target for scams or trouble.
Something as simple as knowing how to get from the airport to your accommodation will save you time and stress when you’re dealing with busy airport crowds. Having good general knowledge of the area or learning a few key phrases means you can find your way home if your battery dies or your phone is stolen. When you travel alone, there is no backup person to look out for you or to help you out, so you need to help yourself as much as you can beforehand, with even just 2-3 hours of research and note taking.
This is easier said than done, but the above tip about being prepared is always a handy one to remember. Other things you can do is try to keep away from obvious tourist giveaways, like selfie sticks, massive rucksacks or touristy holiday clothes. Another great trick I learned recently is, instead of having your phone out to Google map where you’re going, plug in earphones and press ‘start’ on your Google map journey. That way, you can put your phone away Google will tell you where to go hands-free so you’re less obvious to spot as a tourist.
If you’re a solo traveller who’s hoping to meet people or make connections, the you have to be strategic about your accommodation, as that’s how you meet the most people. Staying in a hostel is the obvious choice, but Airbnb can actually be a great way to meet locals! Getting to know your host can mean you get ins at the local restaurants, tips about the best spots to hang out from someone who knows the area. If you want to get off the beaten tourist trail, keeping in with your host is always a good idea!
Invest in a tripod
Just because you’re away by yourself, doesn’t mean you should have some amazing photos to remember the trip by! If you’re serious about getting true insta-worthy pics, then some good, compact equipment is a must. The selfie-stick can be a dead giveaway of the tourist, but bring a tripod along to a stunning sunrise hike or island hopping is a great way to get aesthetic, professional looking pics.
Be comfortable – and confident – in your own company
Don’t be afraid to sit on your own in a restaurant! Order a glass of wine alone in a bar! Don’t be tempted to grab fast food on the go or tag along with people you’re not comfortable with just to avoid sitting alone. A big part of travelling is enjoying getting to know yourself in a new environment. Spending time in your own company – and getting comfortable with it. Bring along a book or do your research for your next spot or day trip, but don’t close yourself off to people watching, chatting with your waiter or meeting a few locals!