The freedom of travelling solo

RACV RoyalAuto Magazine

If visiting a strange country by yourself fills you with terror, this aims to change your mind. From the planning through to deciding where to eat, all the decisions are yours. And it’s nowhere near as scary as you might think.

Group tours

If you want to travel to a specific location, don’t want to experience it alone but have no one to travel with, what do you do? A group tour can be a great way to experience a country or region with other like-minded people in the safety of a group environment. It also takes the hassle out of planning everything yourself. Choose a tour that suits your age, physical abilities and interests. Many tour companies no longer charge a single supplement, instead you share a room with another single traveller of the same gender.

Walking, cycling tours

The best introduction to a new city is a walking or cycling tour and it’s also a great way to meet people from different countries and cultures. You may even hit it off and end up spending the rest of the day together. These tours range from general introductions to a city to more in-depth or specific experiences, such as cycling through the Champagne region.

Planning

Unless you go on a group tour, organising a solo trip requires a lot of planning before you leave and while you’re away. It’s easier to sort out flights, accommodation and transport connections before you go. You’ll save money by booking in advance and be more secure knowing where you’ll be sleeping every night.

Train and bus stations are notorious spots for pickpockets. Plan your transport connections, from long-distance trains to short trips on the metro, to reduce the amount of time at stations.

Apps

If you travel with a smartphone make sure you load it with apps that’ll make travelling easier, such as public transport schedules, translation tools and even last minute accommodation bookings. Keep local emergency numbers programmed into your phone, just in case.

Hostels

Hostels cater for visitors of all ages, they’re not limited to young backpackers. As well as providing affordable and often central accommodation from dorm rooms to single rooms, hostels are a great way to meet people. Larger hostels will have organised activities, such as social drinks, to help people get to know each other.

Dining

Don’t miss out on the experience of a good restaurant just because you’re dining solo. You could opt for an early dinner and avoid the couples, although you will encounter families. If it’s too awkward eating alone in a restaurant then make lunch your biggest meal of the day and opt for a small dinner.

Entertainment

It can get lonely and boring without someone to talk to and there are only so many sightseeing hours in one day. Pack a book, load your phone with music, or watch videos from an online streaming service during downtime.

Stay safe

It’s not always possible to avoid looking like a tourist but minimise it as best you can and avoid drawing unnecessary attention to yourself. Know the areas that aren’t safe after dark and avoid them, make sure your clothing is culturally appropriate, and always travel with insurance.

Have fun

You are at the mercy of no one’s schedule but your own. Enjoy the experience and make it memorable.

Take lots of photos to remember your trip – selfie sticks are optional – and to show your friends and family back home.

Visit smarttraveller.gov.au for official warnings, advice and tips for travellers.

Visit racv.com.au for more ways to get great deals and avoid rip-offs.

Written by Amanda Willimott
February 01, 2016