Some of my best experiences travelling the world have come while I have been alone. There’s a certain calmness that can only be achieved when you only have yourself to rely on and your own thoughts to content yourself with. Can it get lonely? Absolutely, but just in the same way you can want to throttle your travel companion, the key to all of this is moderation. I couldn’t imagine only travelling alone and even when I do set out by myself, I always manage to make new friends – even if it’s only for a short time.
With this in mind though, it’s not all sunshine and sparkles when you’re out on the open road by yourself. There are a lot of charlatans that will prey on the lone wolves and believe me when I say this: they can see you coming. You can run into difficulty pretty easily if you’re all alone but if you keep your wits about you, there’s a good chance you’ll be fine.
Here are some pointers from one solo traveller to another:
This means know where you are and who/what is around you so you don’t get cornered or lost. Part of the fun of travelling alone is having those times where you are utterly by yourself, but there are good and bad places to do this. In an open square at daybreak is generally a good place, as is a relatively deserted historic site like Ostia Antica outside of Rome. A bad place is an alley in virtually any major city at night – try to stick to crowded places if you just don’t have a good vibe about a place to ensure your own safety.
2. Don’t Put all Your Eggs in One Basket
It’s hard when it’s just you to have many places to store things, but it’s never a bad idea to split up a few of your vital travel items so if you lose your bag/get robbed you still have something left. This may mean using the safe at a hostel or renting one at the train station to stash your bag while you wander around the city. Make copies of your passport so you at least have something to prove your identity if and when something goes wrong.
3. Avoid Bringing A Lot of Expensive Gear
Nothing makes you more of a target to thieves or muggers than the things you bring with you. A designer bag here, a tablet or professional camera there – it really takes nothing for someone to run up to you, grab it and run off. If you do insist on travelling with these things, be sure to really keep your wits about you and hold onto your bags tight while in crowded centres.
4. Be Careful of Who You Trust
There is a tendency of travellers to think everyone you meet is going to have your best interests at heart, and in many cases this will be true. You really can only trust yourself when you are travelling alone and if you find yourself dealing with someone who claims to be able to help you, look at the situation and approach with caution. These days, most of the major tourist areas that have legitimate looking businesses are fairly reliable as they live and die by internet reviews – it’s in their interest not to scam you so you recommend them. Just use common sense and you’ll more than likely be fine!