Travelling alone can be scary but you will feel just as alone if you were travelling with a companion whose outlook differs from yours. The need to travel with someone might even be a dampener on your plans, waiting for the trip to be convenient for them too.
Sometimes the most memorable experiences come when the journey is an adventure just as much as the destination. Rather than miss out on a chance to travel on someone else’s schedule, why not travel solo and enjoy yourself?
Here are tips for travelling solo:
Before going to a big new city alone, be safety conscious. Move around during the daytime and avoid places where you could easily become a victim of mugging. Don’t wear expensive jewellery around and confirm from your bank if your debit card can work at the destination you are travelling to. Find out if people accept payment by POS or bank transfers in that town so you will know whether to go with cash or trust your online banking and mobile network to make online payments for services in that town. If you are travelling out of the country to a place where a visa is issued on arrival, make sure you fulfil all the requirements so you are not denied the visa and left stranded at the airport of another country. Taking public transport is cheaper than cabs but make sure you know where or how to purchase bus tickets, the routes to your destination and any other detail to prevent you from getting lost or financially stranded.
Live it up a little
These days it‘s easy to book everything using the internet or a travel agent. But sometimes, it’s best to focus on only pre-booking big-ticket items (E.g. flight tickets or hotel accommodation). You’d have more control over your itinerary if you get to your destination before deciding where to visit. Not having an overbooked itinerary, allows you to take your time and enjoy the country at your own pace. It would be nice if you make reservations for only two nights at a hotel in advance just in case you discover a cheaper and more comfortable accommodation at your destination; one you would prefer to relocate to. You also need not stay indoors all day or stay in an all-inclusive resort like Yankari Game Reserve. Take chances, go out into the town and eat in a different restaurant or ask the locals for places that would be cool to visit and go there. Give wiggle room in your itinerary for experiencing the unanticipated.
Take only a few clothes and items like First Aid Supplies. You can visit a shopping mall to buy more when you arrive at your destination. You need not pack the whole world before you travel. Imagine your flight is not due for another 4-6 hours but your checkout time has elapsed. It’s easier to move around town and do something fun (like having an Abuja City Tour if that’s where you had a sleepover before going on a Daycation to Kajuru Castle with a train ride). But packing light doesn’t mean you should not travel with a mini-sized toothpaste, tissue paper and soap bar in your purse/hand luggage. That way if you arrive at night, you won’t be stranded if the Hotel doesn’t provide them. Speaking of buying things at your destination, if you must get souvenirs, buy items that are small enough to fit into your luggage and won’t add extra weight. That way you don’t end up paying for excess luggage.
Warm up to the locals
Blend into the environment. Attempt to learn a bit of the local language of the area you are visiting. Be friendly with the locals and dress like them if need be. When you relax with them, they can give you valuable information that might save you a lot of time and money. The fear of not being able to tell an unscrupulous local from the ones with good intention, might make you nervous. And nervous body language will cause you to stand out as a target for the degenerate bunch. Even if you encounter hooligans, don’t panic and allow it ruin your trip. Have the numbers of the local police in that city within reach so you can call for help if need be.
Deal with the Loneliness
Travelling solo comes with the downside of feeling lonely but there are ways to deal with the loneliness. One of the ways is to have a means of communicating daily with those you love. Technology to the rescue! Make sure you choose a Hotel with Free Wi-Fi so you can Skype, Snapchat, make and receive WhatsApp audio or video calls. You could listen to Podcasts, go on Facebook and Twitter to share pictures or join in random conversations online, read the news or get a good book and sit in a picturesque location and read. If you feel sleepy, relax and let go into your dream world; your body will thank you later. You can also plan to go on group tours to specific locations when you are away. E.g. you can travel to Ibadan, check yourself into a hotel then follow a tour agency to Oke Ado Awaye for one day of your stay there. It will give you a chance to mingle with people on an adventure even if you travelled to your destination alone. Some intra-state or inter-country tours have per person sharing a room arrangement in their tour packages. This will also guarantee you have company throughout the trip. If you are visiting a city where someone you know lives, schedule a visit. You can connect and hang out briefly at a restaurant or at their place. Enjoy your own company, don’t feel embarrassed that you sat on a table for two alone to eat in a restaurant. It might just be the invitation another lonely tourist needs to make your acquaintance. For instance, if you travelled to the Maldives and a fellow Nigerian tourist sees you, they will naturally want to chat and keep company with you.
Travelling alone gives you total freedom. It can be just as fun as a group trip. Have you ever travelled alone? Share your story with us as a comment below.