Common mistakes to avoid on solo trips
Solo travel is a fantastic opportunity to see the world the way you want to -- whether that means hiking through the Alps, going on wild adventures through the rugged landscapes of Canada or dining your way around Southeast Asia.
If you’re considering an independent travel trip, it’s important you are as prepared as possible. To ensure your next adventure goes smoothly, here are some things to keep in mind.
Solo travel mistakes to avoid
1. Being unorganised
Amid the excitement of planning what sights you want to see, don't neglect some of the most important things. You’ll need to sort your finances before you leave, which includes splitting your funds across a range of payment methods, such as pre-paid cards and cash. Make sure you’ve organised accommodation for your first couple of nights and your transfer from the arrival airport before you depart.
2. Filling up too much of your time
Travelling alone is all about the freedom of working to your own schedule, so don’t try to pack too much into each day. Leave plenty of travel time between attractions so you can relax and be flexible if you want to change your plans at the last minute.
3. Not doing your research
From finding out about the local culture to learning a few common phrases to help you get around, make sure you know the destination you’re travelling to before you leave. Research the best areas to stay and any important local customs to help you avoid awkward situations or giving offence accidentally. For example, in Japan you shouldn’t point using chopsticks during mealtimes, and you may be denied entry to many churches and religious monuments if not dressed appropriately.
With the hassle of packing valuables and the risk of losing items on the road, overpacking is never recommended -- not only because you'll have a heavier case to lug around, but because bringing too many belongings can incur excess baggage fees when you fly.
5. Being afraid to talk to people
It can be daunting to spark up a conversation with a stranger but once you’ve done it a few times, it will come more naturally. Local residents and other solo travellers may have advice that can improve your experience. Talk to people to discover the best places to visit, where's good to get food and the areas that are best to avoid.
6. Oversharing with strangers
While it's rewarding to start talking to someone new and find the conversation is flowing easily, it’s still important to be on your guard initially. Don’t let them know you’re travelling by yourself or where you’re staying. It’s a good idea to keep conversations light and neutral, too. If you’re struggling for topics, chat about the local area, where they’re from, your hometown and cultural references.
7. Not touching base back home
No matter how far off the grid you want to go, make sure you let your family and friends know you’re safe. Wes also recommend that you share your travel plans with someone back home before you leave. If you think your signal won’t be strong enough to call or text, download a GPS tracking app on your phone, such as Find My Friends or Life360. This will make them feel more at ease as it provides a consistent live update of your location.
8. Becoming lonely
Just because you’re travelling alone doesn’t mean you need to be lonely. If you find yourself in need of other people’s company, join an organised excursion or group tour. That way, you can continue seeing amazing sights while meeting like-minded people along the way. For more tips on how to travel without getting too lonely, check out our blog.
9. Staying in your comfort zone
Travelling alone could already be a step out of your comfort zone, but when in unfamiliar situations, it's natural to cling on to things you’re comfortable with. Whether it means saying yes to trying new food, taking public transport in an unfamiliar place or going white-water rafting, try to say yes to the new and exciting. Take on the challenge and do something you wouldn’t normally. Travelling can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience; don’t let fear get in the way of an unrepeatable adventure.
10. Not having a back-up plan
No one wants to assume something bad is going to happen, but it’s a good idea to have a plan B. Photocopy the photo page of your passport to bring with you, and find out where the nearest hospitals are. Take out comprehensive travel insurance and carry a copy of the certificate with you. It’s also a good idea to email these to someone back home for safe keeping.
If you’re ready for your next solo adventure, check out these solo travel deals to find the right holiday for you.