Travelling Alone

A solo trip can be an unparalleled travel experience. The ability to base your itinerary solely on your own interests can be liberating, and the independence of navigating new places alone can be highly rewarding.

One of the first pieces to consider when travelling alone is accommodation. There are a wide range of options available, varying according to price and level of comfort. Some popular forms of residency for travellers and backpackers include:

  • Hotels:
    1. When you arrive at your hotel, check to see that locks are secure. Functioning fire alarms and escape routes are important to note as well.
    2. Be aware that since hotels charge by the room, rather than by bed as hostels do, you may end up paying more as a solo traveller than you would splitting with another person.
    3. Always keep valuables in a safe or safety deposit box.
    4. Never open the door without verifying the identity of the person on the other side. If the person claims to be a staff member, do not hesitate to call the front desk and ask if the person is authorized to enter.
  • Hostels:
    1. A more cost-efficient option than hotels, hostels charge travellers by the number of beds, so it is often an economical method of staying for a longer period of time. However, always check reviews before booking a hostel online. Location and safety are the key factors you should consider. A 24-hour reception desk is a good indication of safety. As well, a lock should be brought in order to safely store valuables as you will be sharing a common area with others.
    2. Hostels are also an ideal location to meet other travellers. This can be useful, as having someone to dine with in the evenings or go on excursions with can be a relief during a long solo trip. Exercise healthy amounts of caution when revealing personal information or accepting food and beverages from strangers.
    3. For women travelling solo, there are often female-only dorms for increased comfort.
  • Airbnb
    1. Airbnb rentals are becoming increasingly popular as a way to stay "like the locals" in a new destination. Ranging from apartments to houseboats to yurts and other unique accommodations, Airbnb presents a fairly inexpensive way to stay comfortably.
    2. It is important to remember that, as this is not a hotel, you may not have the same amenities. Pay close attention to what is, and is not, included in your agreement.
    3. The Airbnb site allows hosts and potential visitors to interact – utilize this feature, and ask as many questions as you need. This is also useful in terms of exercising caution. Trust your intuition – if something seems off or "too good to be true," it may very well be.

Once you have secured comfortable accommodation, there are a few important safety tips to keep in mind when travelling solo. While you are away, remember to:

  • Check your map before leaving your accommodation. Ask your host to mark off any neighbourhoods to avoid, and try to learn the basic route you are travelling. Be aware of the useful apps available if you are travelling with a phone. Having a GPS, a translator, currency converter, and travel guide can make you feel far more confident.
  • Consider getting your phone unlocked before departure, and purchase a cheap SIM card. Having a way to contact your accommodation, as well as emergency services, is even more important alone.
  • Carry a whistle or other significant noisemaker in case of emergency. This can not only call for help, but ward off unfriendly animals. Be aware of your surroundings, and never walk with headphones in both ears.
  • Leave a note in your room explaining your day plan and locations. If you do not return as planned, this can be crucial information for locating you.
  • Be sure you are aware of how long it takes, and how expensive it will be, to get from the airport to the city centre or destination you are staying in. If you are taking a taxi, ask the driver what the cost of the trip will be prior to departing. Do not hesitate to find a different cab if the pricing is drastically different from your research.
  • Be cautious and take precautions if going out alone at night. If possible, tell someone where you are going, and when you expect to return. Consider joining a sightseeing or walking tour to experience the night culture.

By adhering to these simple precautions, and exercising a healthy amount of concern towards your health and safety, your solo journey should be an adventure to remember for a lifetime.