Most people prefer to go on holiday with someone: friends, a romantic partner or family. Some people are so afraid of travelling alone, they’ll even go with someone they barely know (which can be dangerous) or someone they dislike (which just doesn’t make any sense). Many people see travelling with people as safer which may be true in some cases but for some, ‘safer’ means not having to answer uncomfortable questions from nosey people about why you’re travelling alone (or the un-asked question ‘don’t you have any friends?’) ‘Safer’ for some people also means having someone you can use as a crutch when you’re being hit on by a dodgy guy with bad breath or a woman who insists on giving you a blow-by-blow account of what she went through when giving birth to her 7th child.
All these are valid reasons for not travelling alone but they also severely limit the fun and adventure you can have in life. If you feel you always have to go on holiday with someone, that means looking for someone who can take time off work at the same time as you, can afford the trip you want to take and is interested in the places you want to visit. Looking for such a person can be tedious not to mention boring. There’s nothing quite like deciding you want to go somewhere and going there whether you find someone to go with or not. It gives you a sense of spontaneity, freedom and going on that vacation alone inspite of what people say (and don’t say) makes you feel stronger.
Having said all that, travelling alone, especially for the first time is no small feat. Here are some tips to help you have fun whenever you travel solo:
· The major feeling people have about travelling alone is fear so sit down and ask yourself what you’re scared of. If you’re wondering if you’ll be safe, do lots of research about the place you want to visit. Knowledge is power. Go on the internet and find out as much as you can: What language is spoken there? What is the crime rate? How are women travelling alone viewed? Are there any behaviours that are frowned upon (like shaking a woman if you’re a man may not be the done thing)? Are there any clothes that would make people feel antagonistic towards you? For example, before I went on vacation to Gambia, I learned it was an Islamic country so I packed modest clothing in addition to my regular tank tops, just in case. In addition, talk to as many people as you can find who have been to the place you intend to visit. They may be able to give you information which you wouldn’t normally find on the internet.
· Plan what you intend to do every single day of your trip. That way, you are less likely to feel bored, homesick or lonely.
· Take books, magazines or portable video games along for those surprising times when you find you have to wait for hours at an airport or are stuck in the traffic jam from hell.
· Before you travel, write down the phone numbers of the 3 most important people to you on a piece of paper even if those numbers are saved on your mobile phone. So if for some reason you can’t get into your phone (it was stolen, has refused to come on or has just disappeared into the great-lost-and-found dustbin in the sky), you’ll still have the numbers of your loved ones and will be able to call them and let them know that you’re okay.
· Go with an open mind, decide you will have fun and you will!
Here’s a picture of me on a solo holiday to The Gambia.
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