How to Travel Alone - an A-Z guide

20 Mar 2017

 
Travelling alone can be a great way of giving you complete freedom and control of where you go and what you see. However, being on your own in a foreign land comes with increased risks; that’s why we’ve put-together this guide, to help you navigate your trip and get the most out of your adventure.

Some of what we suggest here you will have heard before and you may feel like you don’t need a reminder on how to take care of yourself, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

A is for Awareness



Travelling alone, be you male or female, young or old carries with it a multitude of risks and while you can’t completely guarantee your safety, you can at least limit the risks. If you are aware of your surroundings, you can react. Taking money out of a cash machine makes you vulnerable, but doing it in the daytime, where you can see if someone is paying attention to your actions, that can make all the difference. So our first tip is, always be aware!

B is for Bumbags



Yes, we know. They’re not fashion and they never were, even when we thought they were, but bumbags/fannypacks/money pouches or whatever you want to call them can be very useful. Visible bags, strapped around your waist might be quite obvious, but they are a difficulty, even for the talented pickpocket. If you decide to wear your money under your shirt (money pouch) then they won’t even know it’s there. 

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C is for Cockpit



If you’re all on your lonesome, there’s no need to be lonesome. In this era of terrorism, it’s understandable that airlines and pilots are reluctant to allow passengers inside the cockpit, but some still do, just not mid-flight. If you are boarding early, ask if you can meet the pilot or sit in the co-pilot’s chair. What’s the worst that can happen?

D is for Dummy Wallet



Depending on where you end-up, the dummy wallet is a clever idea. All of you have an old wallet, retired from active service not too long ago. Well, time to call it back-up for duty. If you find yourself being asked rather abruptly for your money, wouldn’t you rather be prepared? Fill your wallet with a couple of expired bank cards, a few out-dated membership cards and yes a few notes. If you have to hand-over a wallet, it needs to look believable. Better to lose $20, a few coins and an ancient Blockbuster Membership card than your real wallet.

E is for Economy



Travelling alone means that more often than not, you’re going to get sandwiched between two people on your flights and find yourself disrupted throughout with calls of nature, a need to stretch legs and other desires. But the good thing is, if you’re willing to be moved around to accommodate the whims of passengers and crew, there’s every chance they might show their appreciation. Upgrades are more common than you might think and while asking doesn’t always get, if you spy a spare seat shortly after take-off, ask.

F is for Foreign Exchange



Cue the shameless plug. Be sure and visit you bureau de change before you fly, before you get to the airport in fact. No commission or fees and your rate will be better, trust us! 

G is for Ghetto Tourism



This is the practise of visiting unusual or random areas, often rundown regions of cities and countries that would ordinarily be inaccessible to most touring families. Tourism such as this is less secure than your mainstay hotel and beach resort combo, but for those of your looking to take a tour off the beaten track, this might be right up your alley.

H is for Hospitality



This means them to you and you to them. Air Hostesses/Hosts do a difficult job and it’s as much their responsibility to cater to you as it is yours to make their job easier and more pleasurable. Smile, be helpful, don’t ask for things when they’re clearly swamped and don’t hang out in the galley, chatting to them…they don’t like it. 

I is for Insurance



Get it before you fly. Many holidays are ATOL protected (link) and most people know to take the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card), but they don’t cover it all and won’t replace your lost digital toys…don’t run the risk of a holiday without an iPad. Insurance doesn’t have to cost a lot, use a comparison site and you’ll find the right policy for you.

J is for Jetlag

 
 
Avoiding Jetlag is a time-honoured tradition and everyone has a method that they’re more than willing to share with you, but let’s be honest, it’s all up-in-the-air. Try and sleep as much as you can, get your body adjusted to the new time-zone before you land. Not only will it delay or cancel-out jetlag, it will mean you capitalise on your time in your destination, avoiding hours of down-time in hotel rooms. 

K is for Kid-Friendly

  

Last minute bookings mean that you have little choice and get what you’re given. However, this can mean you might find yourself shacked-up in a 5 Star hotel for a fraction of the cost or in a funky tree-house in Scandinavia…it could also mean you end-up in a 3 star, family resort. Be prepared and slap-on a smile.

L is for Low Season



If you’re not constrained by family, friends and time of the year, why not travel off-peak/ low season? It’s cheaper and you’re guaranteed more options. 

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M is for mini-Bar



You’re travelling alone…sometimes it gets lonely. Beware the mini-bar blues! 

N is for National Park



Solo travel affords you a lot of opportunities and hiking through a nature reserve in search of Sasquatch or some other wild beasts, but beware. Not Bigfoot – he’s not real – really. No, beware hiking alone. If you must, then inform the search and rescue or a trusted hotelier that you are headed into the woods. Someone needs to know where you went and when you’re supposed to be back. Remember 127 Hours? Oh, you don’t want that.

O is for Ocean View



Whether it’s from the seat on your plane or the balcony of your hotel room, getting that view can make all the difference. 

P is for Passport



Make sure you don’t lose it! Replacing a Passport abroad is a nightmare and IS the end of your holiday. See ‘B’ for more info. 

Q is for Quetzal



Never heard of it? It’s the currency for Guatemala and if you’re travelling alone, it’s an interesting option and a far cry from your 80’s holidays to Majorca. Oh, it's also the name of a South American bird. 

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R is for Rain



Sadly, it rains in other countries, although not a fraction as much as we think it rains here in Blighty. There are dozens of lightweight, fold-up rain coats available. Take one. What it adds to your backpack is nothing in comparison to its ability to ward-off pneumonia. 

S is for Scenic Route



What we mean by that is the meandering, wander that finds you staring at an Incan Pyramid, rather than the scenic route which sees you detoured between airports over a period of 27 and half hours.

T is for Take-Off



It doesn’t matter how much of a seasoned traveller you are, sometimes flying is scary. If you’re a little scared, ask to hold your neighbour’s hand. Who knows, it might spark something romantic? Probably not. Almost definitely not.

U is for Universal Time Zone



There isn’t one. Be sure and alter your watch. If you don’t have a watch, make sure your phone is set to change time zones. You don’t want to live your life for the next few weeks on UK time, there’s a reason you left, remember. 

V is for Visa



Some countries require a Visitor’s Visa before entry. Russia, the United States and others require you to pre-arrange and pre-pay for a stamp in your passport. Without which they have every right to turn you around and ship you right back home. So remember to check and get this sorted well in advance of your trip. 

W is for Waves



Imagine the scenario: you drop your bags, change into your trunks and run-off down to the shore. The sun is high, the sand is soft and the sea is enticing. In you go. After fifteen or twenty minutes you decide to take it easy and float for a while. Drifting-off, you float away…only to be gobbled-up by a GREAT WHITE with poor dental hygiene. 
Be aware of undercurrents that you might not see. Respect the sea and its power. 

X is for X-Ray



Airport scanners are pretty cool and getting cooler by the minute. Some of them remind us of that scene in Total Recall when Arnold walks through and then the dog follows. Nice. Sorry, off-topic. Behave when you’re at the X-ray scanners, they’re there for our safety. 

Y is for Yurt



A dome-shaped Mongolian dwelling you could stay in if you went to Mongolia. What? It’s Y, it’s really difficult! PS. The currency of choice in Mongolia is…the Tughrik. 

Z is for Zip Code



If you happen to meet someone special and want to send them a postcard (what’s Facebook?) remember to ask for their Zip code (postcode). 
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