A Solo Guide To World Travel

The idea of dropping everything, or at least putting it on hold for a while and taking off into the wild blue is a compelling fantasy. Who hasn’t dreamed of visiting distant lands, making friends with strangers, eating strange foods and camping out under the stars on a tropical beach far from home? Sometimes the convenience of travelling solo can’t be beat. If travelling by plane, train or boat with no specific destination in mind is for you, then there may be a few handy pieces of advice to consider.

The first consideration is safety – here are a few travel tips to help you stay safe and connected to the world while you wander within it:

When phoning for reservations, ask the annual ratio of female to male occupancy. If women make up a large percentage, you can be comfortable knowing the hotel is especially aware of safety and security.

Put your hotel’s telephone number on speed dial on your cell phone, even if your cell phone doesn’t have coverage in the city or country you are visiting. Just reaching for your phone and appearing to dial a number provides a level of security in some situations.

Take the hotel’s business card with you. It is easier to show it to a taxi driver in cities or countries where taxi drivers are unlikely to speak English, than try to make yourself and your destination understood.

Never use the doorknob hang-tag to order room service breakfast if you are travelling alone. It’s like a neon sign telling everybody you are alone and expecting a knock on your door at 6:30 a.m. or 7 a.m. or whenever. Instead, telephone room service to place your order.

Carry copies of your ID instead of the real thing. Make sure the originals are somewhere safe that can be accessed from remote.

Carry a positive balance on a credit card instead of cash because your credit card is insured against fraud and theft.

As solo travel is one the rise, particularly among people over the age of 40, here are a few things to consider:

Even if you want to be unstructured, book at least the first night’s accommodation in advance.

Buy a Guidebook Geared Toward the Single Traveler. The accommodations, hang-outs and restaurants listed will be full of other independent travelers. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to hook up with a variety of people for an afternoon of exploring the bazaar in Kathmandu, eating a meal together, or even traveling for a day or a week together.

Check Out the Independent Travelers Meeting Places. Some guidebooks (such as the Lonely Planet series) will list them. Many cities have well-known meccas for independent travelers from bookstores to cafes to youth hostels with bulletin boards and calendars of local events. These provide a treasure trove of listings for inexpensive tours, travel companions or rides wanted, free or almost free lectures, or social gatherings which you can join.

Restaurants and dining rooms are very common social hubs; here are a few tips to help you get the most out of them:

Wine & Dine Yourself. Eating alone comfortably is a skill you will quickly develop. Choose a lively cafe or bistro with lots of people. Consider sitting at the counter and watch your food be prepared. Take along reading and writing material. Enjoy watching people and the fine art of eavesdropping.

Chat with the service people. Waiters and waitresses are some of the best local color you’ll find.

Cafe and outdoor dining is often attractive to single travelers; sitting alone with a book in a cafe isn’t as unusual as a table for one at a fancy restaurant.

Bring reading materials. If you start to feel uneasy sitting alone and staring down at your food, you can crack open a book, write in a journal or read a magazine. One hint: The higher-minded your pursuit appears, the more likely folks are either to ignore you, or to become intrigued and maybe say hello.

Finally, staying in touch while on the move can be a bit tricky but Internet cafes can be found from Toledo to Thailand; a free e-mail account is all you need. For your safety and your loved ones’ peace of mind, leave them a copy of your itinerary and check in periodically. Use these handy tips to stay safe and connected while exploring the big planet. Even when you are by yourself, you’ll never have to be alone.
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FK – Solo (Clip Officiel)

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