If you want to channel your inner Elizabeth Gilbert and “find yourself” Eat, Pray, Love style, or all your friends have used up their annual leave, you might find yourself travelling alone. Negative media coverage of women travelling alone has made us all cautious. But really, exploring a foreign city poses the same risk as walking around your own home town. Here’s our guide to flying solo to take the intimidation out of travelling alone.
1. Safety first
The most important safety tip when travelling alone is to know where you’re going and how you’ll get there. It’s always advisable to check in with friends back home by letting them know that you’ve landed and found your accommodation. Once you’re ready to explore, stay within view of a crowd and don’t go anywhere too secluded. Make inquiries from reliable information desks only and avoid taking directions from strangers on quiet streets. Be practical when choosing a handbag and keep a zipped cross-body bag to the front of your body, and always keep an emergency €20 in your shoe. Keep yourself well hydrated and protected from the sun, and seek medical attention right away if you find yourself feeling ill.
2. What to pack
One of the great things about travelling alone in a strange place is that you can dress entirely for comfort and nobody will judge you! Remember that there’ll be nobody to help you lug your bags around at the airport, so you might want to ditch the 4-inch heels. If you’ve been known to occupy space in your friend’s suitcase before, make sure you stay within the weight limit because the last thing you want is to have to pay for extra luggage that you can’t even carry by yourself! When it comes to clothing, always respect the local dress code.
3. Where to stay
If you’re travelling alone, it’s always nice to push yourself to meet new people. The best place to do this is in a hostel common room, where the atmosphere is always abuzz with stories from the travelling-veterans. If it’s peace and quiet (and, let’s be honest, a little bit of luxury) you’re after, a hotel or guesthouse is great, though you may find it a little bit more lonely as hotel guests tend to keep to themselves. Wherever you decide, make sure you get a secure locker for your laptop, passport and wallet.
4. The important stuff
Remember that when it comes to solo travel, “knowledge is power”. Research is crucial in ensuring you choose a safe area, don’t get ripped off and that you don’t accidently book accommodation too far from where you’re hoping to visit. Visit your doctor or the Tropical Medical Bureau
before you travel to make sure you are appropriately immunised. It’s also wise to know the details of the Irish Embassy in the country you’re visiting
5. How to meet people
When entering a new culture, it’s important to know and understand the cultural norms. Greet people how they greet you, and try to practice their traditions. Even if you’re not usually the chatty type, strike up some conversation with your waiter or accommodation staff and get a feel for how people talk in the area. It’s amazing what you can learn about a culture from a casual chat.
6. How to spend your alone time
Another wonderful perk of travelling alone is that you have the freedom to do whatever you want. You can enjoy being selfish and not have to spend time partaking in group activities you really have no interest in. Whether it’s on a city bus or relaxing on the beach, you will find yourself with plenty of alone time. Use it to write a journal or blog about your trip, or the experience of being alone. Take photographs or just enjoy the silence.
7. Eating out
If travelling alone has been a ‘first’ for you, why not go the whole nine yards and try new foods for the first time too? Be careful with meats however, as if you fall sick during your solo holiday, unfortunately there’ll be no-one to look after you.
If you’re thinking of travelling solo this year, why not call us on 01 804 7100 or drop into us at 43-45 Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1 and have one of our agents help you plan your trip. Whether it’s a city break you’re hoping for, or a relaxing week in the sun, Abbey Travel’s got tons of amazing offers.