First time travelling alone?
Do your research and choose accommodation wisely for the area you’re visiting.
When I had my first encounter being totally alone, I was 23 years old in Queenstown, New Zealand, I cried a lot because the time difference meant I couldn’t speak to anyone in England, I debated going to see my friends who had left to travel around Australia.
I made a snap decision to go to Auckland (North New Zealand) as the season was coming to an end in Queenstown.
In one day I flew North, I got a sim card, I printed off my CV, had a nap and the first Bar I walked in offered me a job!
I was staying in a Hostel… maybe 20 mins walk from the bar, not ideal when finishing shifts late at night.
Hostels are great as there is always people around and somebody on reception…but I did have one situation where a drunk man had got into the Hostel and was parading the corridors banging on doors and shouting at people. I was getting back from my shift and stopped in my tracks as that time it was only me in my room (seems crazy as I do that now, but at 23 it was scary). So I had to make a quick decision to run to my room and lock the door.
I had regular chats with the Hostel staff and their top priority was your safety!
So I’d recommend a Hostel, they have private rooms if you’re not up for sharing and are usually a bit cheaper than a Hotel.
If you’re going out at night, check the distance to your accommodation for your way home, I still do that now, there are taxis available most places but I’ve been in situations where I’ve had to walk and you don’t want to go far if you’re on your own.
Especially in CVID times (there isn’t much time for mistakes) Although positively; things are improving daily!
Be organised with checking any entry requirements for the country you’re visiting, especially with Brexit… some places now require a visa or an online form must be done.
I have not always been organised… my family’s favourite story is that I once went to the wrong airport.
We had a family holiday booked to Spain, I was flying from London while they were flying from, Newcastle, Exeter and Birmingham so we were all over the country.
I checked my flight numerous times, I booked my taxi to get to the airport 4/5 hours early as I don’t run for flights …anymore, have done that many times, its not fun.
Turned up the airport, chuffed with myself, it was all online check in and the machine lit up red and made a noise like ‘WRONG’ I was really confused, looked down at my ticket for ages, looked at the Departures and my flight wasn’t there; what is going on?
Called my Mum confused and upset, to then realise, I was at the wrong airport, I was at Luton when I needed to be at Stanstead.
I’m not sure if they all laughed first or pretended to be concerned.
We were looking for other flights, other ways I could get there, but the quickest option was to jump in a taxi and ask him to bomb it there.
It took an hour to get there, I ran through security and made my flight; moral of the story, get to the airport 5 hours early.
Trust your gut (and plan your treks)
When I was in Ubud, Bali I’d been very ill and hadn’t left my room for a week or two, I had Dengue Fever from the Philippines. No appetite, vomiting, muscle aches, dangerous dehydration and more fun things.
I wanted to explore Ubud as I only had a few days left and hadn’t seen anything but the doctors taking my blood pressure.
I googled a trek that many tourists do and decided to head off for a few hours… the hours turned into a full day, I was totally lost and had little energy after being ill.
I stopped to sit down by a main road, and had no idea how far I was from my Hostel, absolutely no sense of direction.
A Balinese man asked me if I was lost. Now to answer this question ‘Yes’ I was opening up my vulnerability to a stranger, to answer ‘No’ I was closing off any chance of help.
So I took a moment to check my gut, and I trusted that this man, was genuinely concerned.
He took me to walk through some rivers, rice fields and incredible views, he helped carry my backpack and got me some water.
It was a day I’ll never forget!
There will always be people you don’t trust, trust your gut and just say ‘no thank you’.
But there will always be kind, thoughtful, helpful people you can trust!
Tell close friends or family your travel details (somebody trustworthy)
I printed off and emailed my Mum; my flight, my insurance, my accommodation and a passport photo.
In the unlikely event that anything happens to your bag, your phone, your laptop, at least somebody has this info and you can get a copy to print off somewhere.
It was only when I was really ill in Bali that I needed my insurance and I was too ill to make any decisions so I would send photos of Doctor’s notes to my Mum and sister, for them to tell me what to do, as I had no idea.
I also, lost my phone charger at this point, so in desperate times I had to crawl down to the reception and ask them to find me a charger so I could contact my family and tell them I’m Ill… the staff were very worried about me, I looked like Gollum.
Get Travel Insurance. Don’t even think twice. Get it.
My Dad always says ‘I’m not playing to fly your body back’… thanks Dad.
Be kind, smile and keep an open heart
Ooooh a smile can go a long way in any language!
This sounds a really obvious one...but being alone, maybe a bit nervous and scared, a smile with a stranger can make you feel warm and fuzzy.
Approaching situations with kindness and a smile can possibly start conversations, and having a small chat with somebody each day can rid any feelings of loneliness.
You have no idea who you might meet or what interesting things they'll have to say, or if they'll have some useful tips or advice for your travels, so always keep an open mind.
Im a big believer in communication and connection, even though i am travelling 'alone' I'm rarely 'alone'.
I smile and say hello to everyone, i will ask for recommendations in restaurants, sometimes just to start a conversation!
If there is a language barrier, learning the minimum goes a long way, the 'Hellos', Please and Thank Yous' if you get chance to learn more -it doesn't go unnoticed.
These are my random stories and tips.
I hope some of them were helpful. If not; I hope you enjoyed my random stories.
Lots of love