Travelling by yourself can be a truly liberating experience, but if it’s something you’re not used to, it can seem rather daunting too. Whether you’re heading off to explore big cities and culture or just looking to relax on a remote island, we’ve got some useful tips to ensure your trip goes as smoothly as possible.
Before you go, be sure to give a detailed travel plan to a friend or family member so that they have a record of where you are at all times. This ‘just-in-case’ contingency is not only a useful back-up should you misplace important travel documents, but it will reduce the worry should loved ones need to contact you.
Not only does technology allow you to instantly book travel, but it gives you access to reviews, makes it easy to keep in touch with family back home and provides an efficient way to store itineraries and travel documents. The tech savvy who are in-the-know invest in an all-in-one iPad or other tablet for portable convenience. You can even store books and music on it, take photos, and most importantly browse the web and check emails.
If you’re taking medication, make sure that you have a supply to last you through the trip. Just as importantly, always pack any medications in your carry-on luggage. Medication should never be packed in your checked luggage. While it’s rare, checked bags can go missing or arrive late, so it's best to be prepared and always have such important items kept close by and accessible at all times.
You’ll find when travelling that there are lots of single people who are also enjoying a solo adventure. An organised tour is the perfect way to enjoy a shared experience. There are plenty of tours aimed at over-50 travellers, so it's easy to find and be with like-minded travellers. If you’re open to sharing organised accommodation along the way, it can bring the trip’s cost down too.
It should go without saying, but many inexperienced travellers forget about travel insurance. In case of illness, injury or theft, knowing that your expenses will be covered in the rare event of a mishap will go a long way towards making your trip a worry-free experience. The peace of mind that comes with insurance more than makes up for the one-time cost.
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Let’s face it - unless you’re a teenager, jet-lag can get the best of even the most experienced traveller. Unfortunately, it’s a reality that must be confronted when heading to a far-off destination. But there are steps you can take to help minimise the discomfort. Try to book the most direct flight to save time. Also, make sure you drink plenty of water and move around as much as possible while in the air. If possible, exercise the day before the flight to help avoid stiffness and do stretches while seated. Most importantly, sleep whenever you can during the long trip.
Choosing a guesthouse or B&B style accommodation often results in a more personalised experience. Larger hotels, while perfectly suitable, usually don’t provide the comradery that solo travellers might find in the smaller, more private setting. This is just another way to get that ‘at home feel’ when travelling alone.
It’s easy to fall into a routine. Without someone to push you along, we tend to not venture too far outside our comfort zone. The beauty of travel though is learning new things and trying something different. Commit to trying at least one new thing in each place you visit - whether it’s scuba diving, a cooking class or just going on a guided tour. The thrill of getting out and trying something new is an experience to remember.
Take a book, an iPad or a travel journal so you won’t feel self-conscious when eating out alone. Before you know it, you’ll relish the independence of a solo dining experience!
As the saying goes, ‘if you bag it, you drag it’. There won’t always be someone around to assist you with your bags, so consider how you’ll cope on the road with the amount of luggage you have. Make sure you pack only what you need, because heavy bags can ruin an otherwise relaxing trip. Invest in good quality, lightweight roller suitcases that are easily manoeuvrable. If possible, stick to one carry-on bag for the airplane cabin, and one checked suitcase.
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