Travelling on your own for the first time can be an exciting but also potentially risky prospect. While it’s usually more fun to share a travel experience, sometimes other people can be a weight that drags you down, limiting your freedom and chance to explore.
With the tips in this guide, you’ll be able to venture forth with a bit more reassurance and confidence, and that will give you the best chance of a great experience.
1. For your first trip, it’s best not to seek an adventure that’s too exotic
When you don’t have much experience with travel, it’s better to stick with easy destinations where your own language is spoken, the infrastructure is mainly developed and not too sketchy, and where you can easily fit in like a local.
Places like Canada, the United States, and a large number of European countries all offer fantastic experiences for the first time traveller, while not being particularly challenging, or indeed expensive. In fact, you’d be amazed how easily and inexpensively you could get a room with a Fallsview at Niagara Falls, for example. In many cities in the U.S., accommodation gets less expensive the more West or South you go (you can get a good room near Golden Gate Park in San Francisco for the same price as a more questionable room in a downtown hotel).
2. Do your homework before you go
Your first stop should be to visit the UK Government’s foreign travel advice website where you can find important information about your destination. You should also check as many other sources as you can find, not only for safety information, but also for tips about where to stay, what to do, and how to get around.
Knowing that you can get a ferry from Singapore to Sumatra could save you a lot of money if you know how to do it and how much you’d have to pay, and it’s a lot better to know that before you go, instead of trying to wing it after you’ve arrived.
3. Make sure you have a lot more money than you actually need
This is the one that catches a lot of people off-guard. You should not, of course, carry too much cash with you, but also keep plenty of available funds in 2 or 3 different bank accounts with separate ATM cards and networks.
That’s because some foreign ATMs use Cirrus, some use Maestro, and some use other networks. Most will accept VISA but not MasterCard, while others accept only MasterCard. Another thing that’s very useful to know is that some foreign ATMs will not work if your PIN starts with 0.
4. Buy insurance
Travel insurance is horribly expensive and has a lot of weird rules, but if your trip is going to be for less than 90 days, you should definitely consider purchasing it. Before you do that, check if your credit card comes with a free travel insurance policy, and what the terms and conditions are.
As with all insurance, you can expect you may have some difficulty getting a claim processed, which is why it was advised in the previous tip to have more money than you actually need. In an emergency, sometimes you can’t wait for an insurance company to make a decision.
5. Make sure family and friends know where you are and where you’re going
When you arrive in a new destination, let your family and friends know. These days that’s very easy to do. You should also let them know your plans before heading to the next destination, so that if you haven’t contacted them again within a reasonable time, they’ll be able to figure out that something has happened and you may need help.
Travelling solo offers an experience like no other, but you’ve got to be prepared for the trip and not be blind to what travelling alone actually entails. Having read all of the above, are you ready for a solo travel
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