So – you’ve saved up your money, secured your visa, read all the official advice for travelling abroad and you’ve chosen the first destination on your bucket list. But have you given any thought to how you’re going to make the most of travelling solo for the first time?
Travelling solo for long periods of time presents unique challenges, and knowing how to overcome them can be the difference between a stressful, and prolonged, ordeal and a truly incredible life experience. Here is a basic guide to travelling solo for extended periods of time…
Use your Personal Networks to Travel Better and Smarter
If you’re travelling for a long period of time, you might worry that you’ll eventually run out of ideas and connections. But, there’s one thing you can draw on to get things moving along again: your personal networks.
Your Facebook profile, for instance, might boast a wealth of untapped friends and acquaintances who might be able to point you in the direction of accommodation, deals, highlights and sights. Even if you don’t know someone in a new city, doesn’t mean any of your Facebook friends don’t!
So, don’t overlook the potential in asking for recommendations and connections from people many miles away back home or those you’ve met along the way.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do a spot of online searching too. Search for travel deals from holiday providers before you hop on a plane to your next destination – you never know what bargains you could snap up!
Make Friends with the Locals
Hopefully, you’ll already know how to look after yourself and the importance of retaining a good dose of common sense. But, where it’s safe to, engage with locals and ask them what you should be doing.
Locals tend to look after solo travellers and let them in on the best-kept secrets. Plus, given that you don’t have to check in or agree with anyone else, you can take full advantage of all the freedom you wouldn’t get to enjoy if you were travelling as part of couple or group. A spur of the moment detour to a hidden gem is almost always worth the time!
Perfect the Art of Budgeting
Short-term travelling can be relatively easy to budget for, seeing as there’s a solid end date in place and a particular amount of money to available to you.
However, long-term travelling requires far superior budgeting skills as you’ll need to make it stretch further (or earn money along the way), especially if you don’t always want to go deep into budget travel. It is possible to travel in luxury for less money, but it takes some very careful habits.
Get in the habit of being conservative with your estimates and adding 20% contingency to all your costs. The worst-case scenario is that you’ll never find yourself out of pocket, and the best case? You’ll have a handful of cash to play with once in a while.
Find ways to Deal with Loneliness when Travelling Solo
Loneliness comes for all travellers at some point, and the chance of it occurring only heightens the longer amount of time you’re on the road. But it doesn’t have to feel as bad as it sounds. Homesickness is natural, and most fellow travellers can give you some great tips for overcoming homesickness.
The truth is, loneliness strikes when we’re not travelling too, and there will be both good days and bad days while you’re exploring the world. Alleviate loneliness by making friends wherever you go (friendship is worth a great deal, even if it’s just for the day). There is always someone around who is willing to hang out!
Additionally, do your best to learn the local language. Being able to communicate is the quickest cure for loneliness, wherever you are.
Pre-empt the Downsides of Solo Travel
While travelling the world is undoubtedly fun – and such a privilege – there will always be downsides. Especially if you’re travelling alone for a long period of time. So, pre-empt those downsides to mitigate the effect they might have on you.
For example, relationships are ephemeral when you’re travelling for extended periods, which means you’ll be saying goodbye a lot. This can be hard, but make plans to stay in touch by swapping contact details first and accepting the transient nature of relationships while you’re globe trotting.
Always try to make the best of the solo nature of this type of travel. Perfect your selfie skills, read those epic novels you have put off, and actually write in that journal you have been carrying around for 6 months.
Expect a little existential crisis from time to time
If you find yourself padding around Bali or strolling the pebbled stones of Rome, only to think, ‘shouldn’t I be buying a house or climbing the career ladder?’, don’t panic. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing the wrong thing! Instead it’s almost guaranteed to happen if you’re travelling for a long time – especially if you’ve scrolled through Facebook to see your school friends pursuing a more ‘traditional’ way of life.
It’s human nature to question what you’re doing, but as long as you’re still enjoying yourself and travelling for reasons that feel valuable to you, keep going… The world is yours to explore!
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