Travelling the World Alone

By Adam Smith

A guide to solo world travel, including preparation, packing, tackling loneliness and staying safe.

What comes to mind when you think of travelling the world?

Making new friends, seeing sites that will take your breath away, learning new languages and challenging yourself?

If so, it sounds like the perfect adventure for you.

However, before you go you’ll want to make sure you prepare properly, both mentally and physically.

We’ve broken this guide down into five important sections:

- Effective Preparation: What you need to do before you leave home

- Wise Packing: For the bits and bobs you will (and won’t) need

- Tackling Loneliness: Travelling alone doesn’t have to mean travelling lonely

- Staying Safe: Keeping yourself safe and secure on your adventure.

- Travelling alone as a woman: Extra tips for solo female travellers.

Effective Preparation

First off, prepare yourself with the following steps.

Buy around the world travel insurance

You’ll want a travel insurance worldwide package to make sure you’re covered in case of injuries, accidents, loss and theft. While it will cost you in the short term, it will be worth it in the long term, both for your own peace of mind and if something does actually happen.

Join social media groups

These days, the place to get the most up-to-date information regarding your travels is on social media. Whether you’re looking for a place to stay or recommendations on a roomy, comfortable backpack, you’ll find first-hand advice here. It can also prove a great way to find people to meet up with along the way.

Invest in good kit

A cheap backpack could fall apart within the first month, while a flimsy padlock could leave you without the backpack all together. Don’t be tempted by unbelievable bargains when it comes to your kit. Shop around for different deals, utilise sale periods and discount codes, and ask friends what they would recommend.

Wise Packing

Veteran world travellers always strongly advise you do a trial pack well before you leave.

Make sure you can lift your bag and carry it about for long periods of time comfortably.

Once you’ve packed everything you want, take out anything you don’t necessarily need.

Consider how you’ve packed your items carefully. Putting items into separate bags can make finding what you need much easier, and keep things looking a lot neater.

Also consider leaving some space, as this will make opening and closing your bag at every stop much easier. 

Tackling loneliness

Begin with hostels and homestays?

Staying in communal accommodation to begin with is a smart decision; not only will it ease you into the trip and into being ‘alone’, it will also help you need new people also on the road. It can also give you a crash course in the local language, which will be ideal if you are staying around for a while.

Give yourself a break

Travelling is hard work, let alone travelling alone. You don’t have to be sociable all the time, and sometimes a couple of nights in could be just what you need to recharge your batteries.

Treat yourself

While you might have a strict budget, don’t ban yourself from a treat every now and again. Buy some new clothes in the local shopping mall, visit a nice restaurant and stay in a hotel for a couple of nights. It can cheer you up and make the fact that you’re alone feel far less daunting.

Staying Safe

Learn the essential words

Find out before you arrive in a country how to say ‘no’, ‘yes’, and ‘help’ in the local language. You might never even need to use the latter (and hopefully you won’t) but it’s still smart to know it

Save the local help phone numbers

How do you call the police in the countries you’re going to? Find out and put them into your phone. Also write them on a piece of paper and keep that on you.

Keep spare cash and a passport photocopy on you.

Invest in a sturdy and secure waist money belt that sits under your clothes and get used to wearing it all the time. Keep a good chunk of the local currency in there, and a photocopy of your passport or travel document. If your bag is stolen or lost these things will be extremely useful. You can put your emergency number list in here too.

Be extra vigilant

Just as you’d keep an eye on your drink in a bar at home, you need to do this when you’re away too. This applies to everything; don’t neglect any of your normal safety practices. Instead, be even more careful. Avoid getting too drunk with strangers, keep your money belt tucked out of site, look after your bags and belongings and watch out for pickpockets in busy areas.

Invest in two good padlocks?

Padlocks are super handy. They can be used to secure lockers, attach your bag to your bed, lock the bag itself and even lock a solo hostel door. Have a spare with you, too.

Travelling alone as a woman

While all of the above applies to both genders, sadly women have to be even more careful when travelling alone. Put the following things in place.

Invest in a personal alarm

These are inexpensive, compact and lightweight. Hold the alarm in your hand when walking in the dark alone, or in areas you aren’t too sure about.

Take time in trusting people

While you might someone and hit it off straight away, take your time in getting to know a new friend.

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