Travel tips for a suc­cess­ful and re­ward­ing solo jour­ney.

Five tips for suc­cess­ful and safe solo travel

Reader's Digest Asia Pacific - - Contents - BY RICHARD MEL­LOR

PLAN­NING AN AD­VEN­TURE ON YOUR OWN?

Here’s your guide to friend-mak­ing, risk-tak­ing and pos­i­tive think­ing while you’re off dis­cov­er­ing your­self.

SAFETY

Un­less you pos­i­tively in­vite dan­ger – i.e. strolling around a pitch­black park at 4am with head­phones on – trav­el­ling alone isn’t ac­tu­ally that risky. The big­gest peril is be­ing taken for a ride. Lit­er­ally, in the case of taxi drivers: al­ways ask for an es­ti­mated fare be­fore set­ting off. Oth­er­wise, try to never look like a tourist; in­stead, ex­ude as­sur­ance. Carry ID and al­ways keep a back-up. En­sure that some­one else knows your itin­er­ary and com­mit to reg­u­lar contact with them.

PLAN

Be­ing alone means you can’t use your co­hort’s phone when yours runs out of juice, or rely on them

should you lose your wal­let.

Put emer­gency sys­tems in place: write down key num­bers (friends, ho­tels, em­bassies, emer­gency ser­vices), have change for phone boxes and al­ways keep some back-up money in your bag or, bet­ter still, in a locker.

EAT­ING

Solo­man­gare­pho­bia. That’s the of­fi­cial, med­i­cal term for a fear of eat­ing alone – a fear that many sin­gle trav­ellers have. If you can get over your fear, it is very pos­si­ble to en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence. Bring a book to dodge bore­dom, sit at coun­ters to be less con­spic­u­ous or use the op­por­tu­nity to prac­tice your French or Filipino on a waiter. And scoff all the bread your­self.

MAK­ING FRIENDS

This is an­other com­mon and very valid worry when trav­el­ling alone: what if no-one likes me? Ac­quir­ing new com­pan­ions is al­ways eas­ier than feared, but still a scary propo­si­tion.

It helps to look ap­proach­able – smile at peo­ple, have open body lan­guage and lose the sun­glasses. Read some­thing in­ter­est­ing to spark con­ver­sa­tion, or ask strangers a ques­tion.

More hands-on tac­tics in­clude vis­it­ing ex­pa­tri­ate bars, join­ing tours or us­ing apps de­signed to help peo­ple make friends, such as Meetup.

EN­JOY IT

With­out real­is­ing it, most of us hu­mans are very co-de­pen­dent: we worry whether our part­ner or friend is hav­ing a good time, and al­ways bal­ance their needs in de­ci­sion-mak­ing.

The joy of solo travel is that you can be en­tirely self­ish: walk at your pre­ferred pace, eat what and when you want, see the sights that in­ter­est you, use the en­tire ho­tel wardrobe. If you want to skip that mu­seum of trac­tor his­tory, you can. Take time to ap­pre­ci­ate your in­de­pen­dence and revel in that free­dom.

But, how­ever well you plan in ad­vance, things will go wrong. Missed trains, de­layed planes, lost lug­gage, what­ever. The trick is not to over-stress it; roll with the punches, laugh at it all, and draw up a new plan. Who knows: maybe Plan B will work out bet­ter any­way?

On a solo trip, you can do ex­actly as you want

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