It’s the ultimate act of an independent woman: heading off on a trip with no one but yourself. And while you’ve dodged dealing with friend dramas and arguing over who pays for what, there are a few things you will inevitably need to deal with. So, before you book that ticket or attempt to pack your bags, here’s how to navigate the ups and downs of jet-setting solo.
Before you fly out
Do your research
Yes, it might not seem as exciting as planning all the cute travel outfits you’ll be popping on Instagram but it is important to visit smarttraveller.gov.au before you leave. Be sure to research the destinations you’re planning to visit and brush up on things like local customs and also keep on top of any travel warnings in place. You can also register your trip on the site and be kept updated of any changes regarding government advice about where you’re headed.
Have an up-to-date contacts list
Compile a list of important numbers before you go that has details for everyone from your bank to key people back home and to places, you’re staying. Keep this list with you at all times (i.e. on your phone), pop one in your suitcase and leave a copy with someone at home.
Buy travel insurance
There are some things you can scrimp on but do not set foot out of the country without travel insurance. Nothing puts a dampener on a once-in-a-lifetime trip more than an astronomical medical bill.
Organise several forms of cash
You don’t want to be left stranded in a country without a single dollar to your name so it’s important to spread your money out and carry it in different forms. Have some money on a travel debit card, carry a little bit of local currency and have a back-up credit card with you just in case.
How to troubleshoot common solo travel dilemmas
You don’t have anyone to mind your stuff
One thing travel buddies are good for is that you can leave your stuff with them if you need to make a quick dash to the bathroom. If you find yourself in this situation, head to a reputable looking restaurant or café, order something and ask the waiter ever so politely to keep an eye on your things for you.
Keeping your belongings secure
A solo trip might not be the best time to bring your great grandmother’s engagement ring with you. Leave any expensive valuables at home and whenever you head out leave anything you’re concerned about in the safe (you can generally find these in most hotel rooms). If you’re staying in a hostel, be sure to do your research and make sure they have lockers available to store your belongings and don’t forget to pack a lock!
Heading out with new people
One of the awesome things about travelling is meeting new people. And whilst most people will be just that – awesome – it still doesn’t hurt to have a few safety measures in place before you head out. Advise the front desk where you’re staying what time to expect you back or send a text to someone back home. If you’re in a foreign country and don’t speak the language, keep a business card or pamphlet from your accommodation with you at all times in case you need to get a taxi or Uber back.
Eating on your own
If you’re not usually a dining solo kinda gal eating by yourself can be a little intimidating at first. The first thing to remember is that contrary to what you might think, no one is staring at you. If you’re worried bring a book for some company while you eat. Otherwise, you can always choose to eat at a communal table in a restaurant or pick a place that’s quite busy and loud.
Sleeping in a room on your own
Having an entire bed to yourself (especially if it’s the comfy hotel variety) is heaven but staying on your own can also mean that you might be a little more concerned about your safety. Before you go to sleep at night get into the habit of locking the door (especially if you’re staying at an Airbnb) and if you want to be extra careful, bring a simple rubber doorstop with you and pop it under the door for additional security.
Words by Tania Gomez