Tips for travelling alone (Part 1)

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Hi there! Today’s post it’s just a rough translation of the very first one I posted in my blog.

I have decided to give it a try and translate it into English so more and more people can benefit from these tips.

DISCLAIMER: Please bear in mind that my English is not perfect and you may find some sentences on this post that make no sense at all, but I hope you can grasp the essence of what I try to say! And also keep in mind that some of these tips were conceived from the perspective of someone living in Spain / Europe, so some of them may not be useful in your individual situation.

Without further ado, here we go:   

Today I would like to share with you some tips for travelling alone. I travelled alone for the first time when I was about 25 and I try to keep doing that at least once a year. Travelling is by no means an obligation like some people want us to believe, but I would not like to see a person refraining from enjoying the pleasure of travelling just because they have no one to share it with.

For that reason I’m going to introduce you some tricks or tips that I myself have been learning from my personal experience, since I think they can make those still doubting to take the first step.

As I was writing this post it turned out to be longer than I had expected, that is the reason why I have decided to split it in two parts. Please remember to share this post if you find it useful and feel free to share your own tips and tricks in the comment section below!

Happy reading!

  • Set boundaries.

That does not sound very exciting, does it? I always encourage people to do what they think they have to do, but always keeping prudence in mind. And when it comes to travelling, it means choosing a destination in the first world (a.k.a developed world) and, even better, with a language you know. I know a lot of young woman have discovered their true selves while doing yoga on the shores of the Ganges river or meditating under the Sun of the African savanna, but in my opinion (I know it is not a popular one), I see it as a pretty dangerous thing to do (unless you travel there with some kind of planned trip with other people, in that case, I don’t consider it to be a “solo trip”). I do know anything can happen anywhere, anytime, but some things are more prone to happen in certain places more than in others. Prudence is not the enemy of freedom, and that is why I recommend choosing a destination within Europe, the States, Canada or even Japan, that does not have a great level of spoken English but are more than used to receive visitors.

To sum up: choose a destination in the first world: Europe, the States, Candada, etc.

  • Plan out every single detail.

Every single minute you spend coordinating flights, accommodation and ground transportation will translate in hours of enjoyment once you are travelling. Do not think things like “oh, once I’m there I will figure out how to get to my hotel”. NO. Let’s make things easier: it is far more convenient to do your homework and research beforehand, so you already know your options (bus, taxi…) before arriving in your destination. And the very same thing applies to hotels, side trips, etc.

I personally plan every single detail and put all the info in a thin cheap one-dollar shop notebook that I carry with me and that also works as a substitute for the often heavy travel guides. I even print out and stick on its pages the “hot to get there” maps of all the laces I plan to visit in that foreign country, so I save the pain of carrying around travel guides and maps.

  • Money, money and more money

With this sentence I’m not referring to travelling in first class or stay in five-star hotels, but to having easy access to money once you are abroad. Why? Because you may find yourself in an emergency situation (you feel sick, you get robbed, some unexpected charge…) and in those cases you are going to need money. And not only quantity, but variety. I mean: you need more than one source to access to money just in case some of them fail. I try to always carry cash with me (always distributed in several places, never all in your wallet/pocket!) and a debit card and a credit card I only use when travelling. BEWARE! Before going on a trip, be sure to check with your bank that your credit cards can be used abroad. Some banks block your credit cards automatically if they are used abroad, so make sure that your cards will not be blocked for security reasons if they are used overseas.  

  • Better safe tan sorry

When packing your things for your upcoming trio, don’t forget to include the medicines you usually take, but also include some other stuff you think you might need, like aspirin, Tylenol, or whatever is used in your country for things like headaches, fever, sore throat, mild pain, etc. The place you are visiting might not have easy access to medicines, so better take you own ones.

If you suffer from some kind of food allergy or intolerance you can carry with you a paper that explains it in the language of the country you are going to visit to make communication easier when you are in a hotel or restaurant.

Here you have some pages with cards you can print out in case you are gluten intolerant and plan to visit Japan, for instance:

http://www.celiactravel.com/cards/japanese/

http://www.shardsofblue.com/blog/2015/real-world/travel-2/surviving-gluten-free-in-tokyo/

There are lots of different conditions and illnesses, so another option for your particular case is to look up your illness in Wikipedia in your mother tongue and then translate the page to the language you wish using the option “other languages” on the menu. You can print that info out and carry it with you.

Finally, if you live in a European country and plan to visit another European country you can always try to apply for the European Sanitary card.

Also, take into account the possibility of getting a travelling insurance. Some travel companies or flight booking pages often offer it in the purchasing process. You can also search for one on your own by simply using Google. The price will depend on where are you going and for how long are you going to be there. And please, read the small print, specifically what the insurance exactly covers and how you can contact with the insurance company. It should be an easy and immediate way.

  • Do not walk around with a map in your hand!

This is a basic security trip valid for everyone, but it applies even more to woman who travel alone. A disoriented looking woman with a map in her hand will definitely attract the attention of pickpockets and scammers.

A good trick that I have been using for a long time is to avoid carrying guides and maps around using your mobile phone. Let e explain: the night before, you just think about what do you want to do the next day. Then look all the info you need with your phone using the WiFi available at your hotel (how to get where you want to go on public transportation, route, pics, restaurants nearby etc.) and be sure to take screenshots of all the important info. Make sure that your mobile phone is fully charged before you go out and while you are away, you will be able to check all the info in the screenshots even if you don’t have access to the Internet. This simple trick will save you from carrying the heavy travel guides and maps around and helps you be more discreet, since it will look as you are simply checking your phone.

Of course, if your phone company provides you with Wifi access abroad, this process becomes much more simpler since you can check internet on the go. You can also take pictures of the travel guides and maps with the same purpose, to avoid carrying stuff around.

This is all for today, see you in the second half of the post!

Thanks for reading!

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