Travel is the only thing you can buy that will make you richer. It will expose you to different cultures and a whole new world of sights, sounds and food. Not to mention, travelling can be an incredibly rewarding and spiritual experience. In fact, new research by Culture Trip found that 49% of people who travel return from their trip with a greater cultural understanding and a new confidence in themselves, while 21 per cent come home having made new friends abroad, and 29 per cent of travellers touch down on home soil with a new appreciation for foreign foods. As they say, money returns, but time doesn’t, and for many people, time spent traveling is time well spent.
However, not everyone can afford to travel, and not everyone has friends or family who wish to travel with them. So, if you’ve been bitten by the travel bug but can’t find a companion to keep you company on your next adventure, don’t give up - consider travelling solo! A little nervous about that concept? No worries, here’s some advice from someone who’s already done it.
Sophia is a travel advertising manager, and just returned from a solo trip to Japan. These are her top tips for surviving on your own.
1. Google it
“Google Maps is your best friend when you’re trying to work out the quickest, most efficient way to go somewhere. For example, to go by train, taxi or bus? Or is it quicker to walk?”
2. Look for icons
“Icons and symbols are a life saver when there’s no English translation. It’ll help you identify a bus or train, find a bathroom or a food court in a shopping centre.”
3. Follow the leader
“Follow other foreigners who you think may be going to the same attraction as you, and if you end up getting lost, at least you have some company!”
4. Safety first
“Sometimes there’s not much cost difference between staying in an Airbnb or a hotel, and if you’re a single female travelling solo, it’s safer to consider a hotel with a 24 hour front desk and security, depending on your destination.”
5. Utilise the share economy
“Check out the experiences and tours offered on Airbnb or TripAdvisor and read past reviews so you know what to expect. I met some awesome people - some also travelling solo - during a walking photo tour. We connected so well that we ended up having dinner together!”
6. Notify your bank
“Let your bank know you’re travelling! This includes the dates you’ll be away and which countries you’ll be visiting, including any airports you may have extended transit time in. The absolute worst thing is for your card holder to suspect account fraud and put a block on it!”
7. Don’t be shy
“The locals want to give you a positive experience and to enjoy their country/culture so that you share your experience with your friends and come back, so don’t be shy! Talk to the locals and ask them for their recommendations on food, shopping, sight-seeing. I guarantee they’ll recommend experiences and places that aren’t ‘touristy’ and plastered all over Instagram. People also respond favourably if you make an attempt to speak their language – no matter how bad your pronunciation is!”
BHG travel safety tips:
- Try to arrange your arrival into a new city or country during the day so you aren’t walking through unfamiliar streets at midnight.
- Give a trusted friend or family member a copy of your itinerary, hotel details, flight details and travel insurance so someone knows where you are and can help in the case of an emergency. Register your trip with Smart Traveller, too.
- Before leaving the airport, spend some time at the tourist info counter and pick up free maps of the city and public transport systems, and there’s usually a telecommunications store that offers local pre-paid SIM cards that can be set up right there and then. This way you have access to a phone and internet and can use things such as maps and translation apps.
- Always keep your valuables - such as phone, wallet, passport, keys and visas – within easy reach and within your line of sight at all times.
- Check what currency is used in your chosen destination and have some money exchanged before you leave (you can do this at Australia Post) so you have some cash in the correct currency when you arrive. This is super handy for taxis, buying a bottle of water or even things like maps and train tickets.
- Familiarise yourself with the customs and laws of your destination before you arrive, so you don't inadvertently say or do something wrong, or dress inappropriately.
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