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Essential Tips For The Solo Traveller

Exploring the world is a great place to connect with ‘me, myself and I.’ You are the director of your own experience and can be as adventurous or relaxed as you choose without having to accommodate the desires of an entire group. If you are traveling solo, keep in mind some of these essential tips to make the most of your adventure.

Maldives beach sandbank

Copies of Documents


Have a copy or a scan of every document you are taking with you such as your passport and drivers’ license. Even just a photograph on your phone will keep all your information together. This can save you fumbling around a big bag if you need to provide this information and minimize the risk of losing your passport.

Bolivia passport stamp

Also, keep a record of every hotel that you have booked and any flights or other transport you are planning to take. Online calendars can work a treat, but only if you have internet. This helps you keep track of everything you have planned and can also be sent to a trusted friend.

Moreover, it’s best to have a dedicated envelope or pouch for all your documents and place it on your hand carry to it’s always within your reach.

Prepare Your Phone


The mobile phone is fast becoming man’s best friend, so make sure that yours works wherever you are heading. Some network providers sneak in hidden roaming costs so research what phone call plans you can purchase before you get to your destination.

Since data can be expensive, it is also worth downloading some music for long journeys and maybe even a movie or two. Traveling is a fantastic time to read so consider finding some eBooks to put on your device. Digital books also don’t weigh anything so they won’t take up baggage space.

And since you’ll be turning on your mobile data, it will surely drain your battery fast, so having a power bank will be handy. Don’t forget to bring your charger too. In addition, put all your digital accessories in one place, so it’s organized and easy to find. 

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Be open minded


A lot of people I meet that travel solo complain about how lonely it can be. This is definitely true. It is not always a party but there can be very lonely times. However, in my experience, I’ve always been able to meet some of the most interesting and fun people while traveling solo because I completely open myself up. Take this as your chance to explore other people’s cultures and meet people you wouldn’t have met under ordinary circumstances.

matemo quirimbas mozambique
Matemo Island in the Quirimbas Archipelago

This means you’re completely throwing any pre-conceived notions about people out the window and really just try to be as friendly as possible. I always say traveling solo does not mean traveling alone. There’s been many times where traveling solo led to traveling with a group of people after a few days of getting to know each other randomly. My favorite experience was traveling through northern Mozambique when I met some very fun people to share my adventures with visiting some of the nicest beaches in the world.

Pack The Essentials


Medication, warm layers, and sun cream usually fall under the necessities of travel. If you are alone, then it is sensible to pack lightly. Plus, this leaves room for any souvenirs you might pick up. Consider purchasing a backpack for maximum on-the-go convenience. Other items you might consider include a waterproof jacket, plug socket adapters, cash in the local currency and a credit card for emergencies.

Uyuni salt flats 4x4
Packing up the car for our 3 day, 2 night tour to the Salt Flats!

Unless you’re traveling for very long periods of time or are going scuba diving or something, try not to check a bag. Not only will this save you incredible amounts of time in crappy airports, but you don’t run the risk of losing your luggage which can mean disaster for your trip.

Consider buying packing cubes, as this will make your bag more organized. Packing cubes with see-through front mesh will allow you to see what’s inside without opening up the bag and spilling all its contents. Also, bring clothes you can easily mix and match, so you don’t need to pack coordinates. It would be best to opt for tops with neutral colors paired with bottoms that you can always reuse. 

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Travel Insurance


There are a few different types of insurance you can consider purchasing before going traveling. Depending on the country’s healthcare system, it may be worth searching for health insurance, and if you are hiring a car or doing a road trip then it is worth finding car insurance. Try to find a deal that includes roadside pick up in case you break down.

And if you already have a pre-existing medical condition that might cause potential challenges during your travel, it would be best to get comprehensive holiday insurance from a trusted insurance provider. This way, you can arrive at your destination with peace of mind and focus on enjoying your getaway.

Photography On The Move


Constructing the perfect shot is usually less stressful alone because you can decide how far you want to walk or how long you want to wait for a magical photograph, be it of a sunset or a rare bird. Bring multiple memory cards and an external computer hard drive so that you can systematically back up photos in two locations. Don’t delete photos from your SD card until they are backed up online.

aurora borealis in Iceland
Getting some romantic photos in. F/2.8, 25s, ISO1200

Also, if you are inclined to take a self-portrait, a selfie stick is a fun investment and is retractable for easy transportation. Additionally, many phones and cameras have self-timing functions so check these out before you leave. If a selfie stick is too much, then there are more subtle phone cases that include a fold-out stand will help you arrange the perfect selfie.

Discovering Local Culture


Cambodian BBQ Pork

Sometimes traveling alone is all about immersing yourself in a new culture and meeting brand new people. Look for local social events using social media websites and meet up groups. This way, you have a common idea as a conversation starter and can make meaningful connections. Plus, this is the best way to find local entertainment recommendations and skip the tourist traps.

Do some research on local customs before you arrive at your destination. If you are quick with languages, then pick up some useful phrases. There might be a formal dress code in more conservative areas, so pack clothing that is suitable in this case. Make a note of any inappropriate gestures as well to help you travel seamlessly.

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So, leap fearlessly into the world with just your two feet and maybe a trusty backpack. For more tips on seeing the world, check out these lessons learned after traveling to 50 countries.

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Johnny
Johnny

I'm a dual Canadian-American from NYC that moved to South Africa for work and ended up traveling all through the continent. I'm currently living the expat life in Frankfurt, Germany and traveling the world as much as I can. I'm a bit obsessed with scuba diving, churning credit cards so I never pay to fly, and eating the most questionable of foods in the most peculiar of places. My bucket list is the world, and some day I might make it there.

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