I’ve been travelling on my own for a long time now. It easily becomes a habit to be able to escape the constraints of a timetable well, more to the point, to escape someone else’s timetable.
That’s not to say it’s easy. There’s no one to give you confidence that you’re going the right way, no one to help speed up the inevitable waits at airports and stations and no one to laugh about the dreadful decor in the hotel room you’ve chosen. However, please don’t let this put you off. The benefits of going somewhere always outweigh the fear of not going.
So, that’s my first tip: pick somewhere you want to go. Not somewhere that everybody else says you must see, or that’s top of the must see lists of travel magazines, but somewhere you’ve thought would be good to visit. Maybe no-one else sees the attraction, but that place somehow gives your heart a little kick when you see yourself there.
When you’re travelling solo, I find you can get through a lot of things quickly, so tip number 2 is that it’s ok to go for a short amount of time. Don’t kill yourself with a complex, long, multi-point stay (unless you want to). A city mini-break is perfect – 2 to 3 nights: enough to begin to feel familiar with a place, but not too much time that you get bored with your own company and plenty of accessible activities: visiting museums, shopping and eating are pretty much similar in all destinations.
Tip 3 is to do some planning before you go. Book somewhere to stay, work out how you’re going to get there, and plan one or two things to do to start you off. Things don’t need to be set in stone for the whole of your trip, in fact I’d advise against this – leave yourself some room for the unexpected. Try and walk where you can – you see so much more and can find some gems that you would have missed completely if you were on public transport.
Pack light, is tip number 4. You won’t need everything you think you do and trust me, the less you have to carry, the better. You’ll thank me for this when you have one more flight of steps to negotiate and your arm already feels like it’s dropping off. And it’s so freeing to be without possessions.
Tip 5 is all about accommodation. There is such a huge variety and definitely no one size fits all. It depends on what you’re looking for. I’ve taken to apartment living whilst I’m away. I like the feel of being part of a place and having a key to one of those doors that you otherwise walk past, wondering what’s behind it. But if you want a bit more certainty then go for a traditional hotel or B&B. If you need your social time then think about some sort of hostel or accommodation with shared facilities.
If it’s your first time travelling alone, or if these words are bringing you out in a cold sweat, consider group activities or tours. Intermediate options include self-guided tours or individual guides so you can do things on your own terms, but you’ve got someone on hand to deal with any difficulties.
So there you have it: pick somewhere, book it, pack and go. Relish the experience – the good, the bad and the ugly – and come back and tell us all about it.
For more of my travel musings take a look here: https://seallikeactivity.wordpress.com/