Travelling Alone: Tips and Tricks
Credit: Her Packing List
I went on exchange to Florida in August 2017 and after school ended, I travelled around the States and Canada solo for three weeks. During my travels, I learned a lot and here are my top five tips and tricks on how to survive solo travelling:
1) Speak up
Credit: Success Stories
As trite as this might sound, you truly find your voice when you are all alone and have no one else to depend on. I have always been a rather shy person and this was a difficult step for me to take. I had to approach strangers for help with directions when Google Maps failed on me, and to take photos for me. And once, a stranger nearly cheated me in New York City with her sob story.
However, over time, I learned to be thick-skinned. It takes practice but soon, you will find yourself approaching people easily and learning to stand up for yourself to avoid falling prey to scams.
2) Bring your portable charger and phone cable
Nothing is worse than being stuck in a foreign country with no juice left on your phone. Our phones have become an essential part of our lives. Can’t find your way around? Use Google Maps. Too tired to find the right bus or train to get back to your hotel? Call an Uber.
As much as we want to be away from our phones while on holiday, I cannot emphasize enough how important my phone was during my travels. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I would have survived if I had to resort to the medieval way of navigating my way around with a physical map. With my phone, I could find most of the places and book a cruise around the San Francisco Bay Area with ease.
3) Travel light
As I did most of my travels after my exchange had ended, I had to lug around 50kg worth of baggage everywhere I went. However, before the three weeks of continuous travelling, I did some mini solo travels around the States and Mexico too. And I learned that it is very important to travel light.
The truth is, you probably wouldn’t need 40% of the things you bring along with you. Just pack sufficient clothes and if you do run out of clothes, find the nearest laundromat and wash them. Forgot your toothbrush and soap? Well, most hotels provide these necessities and if they don’t, there are supermarkets everywhere that sell them.
It is important to leave some spare luggage space for the souvenirs you buy so as to not pay for overweight baggage fees! I struggled a lot during my three weeks of travels and thankfully, I had kind strangers who helped me lift my bags off the airport’s carousel. Other benefits of travelling light are that you have lesser things to keep an eye out for and you can avoid wasting time waiting for your luggage if you bring just a carry-on!
4) Put your cash at different places
Credit: USA Today
Do not place all your cash in the same place because it would attract unwanted attention and also, if you do get robbed or lose your money, you would still have some money with you. If it is possible, try not to bring all your money with you. Leave some locked up in the hotel’s safe. Carry a credit or debit card along if it is possible and bring sufficient cash as not all establishments accept cards.
5) Enjoy the freedom
Travelling alone is definitely a very different experience. When you are alone, you get to see more places as you don’t have to accommodate to anyone. Although it might get lonely at times, you will learn to step out of your comfort zone and make conversations with strangers.
Whenever I travel with my family or friends, or even back in Singapore, I never attempted to talk to my Uber drivers. However, I realised that it is important to do so because you would learn so much more. They would tell you the dangerous places to avoid and recommend some cool and interesting places to visit. Additionally, you get to learn more about their lives. This makes the rides so much more colourful!
The thought of solo travel might be daunting but once you take the first step, I can guarantee that it would be an enriching experience!