Many people ask me “how do I travel by myself?”. Unfortunately, it’s not really something that people can really teach you. It’s a lot of trial and error, trust me. Although my pictures on Instagram and Facebook look really cool, there’s been many incidents where I’ve been put into uncomfortable situations or just really screwed up. So I’ve created a list of things that people should be aware of when and if they want to travel alone.
1. Be smart and go with your gut.
If I believed in every one of the responses I got when I told people I was traveling to Europe for a month by myself, I would have most likely been at home watching Netflix over winter break. Many people were worried about terrorist attacks and ISIS attacking, but that wasn’t a huge concern for me.
In all honesty, if you grew up in America, I think traveling around Europe is pretty doable. Europe has less shootings and less murders. We only associate the horrible attacks that occurred in Paris and London as an everyday thing or something that is more likely to happen at those places, just like foreigners believe that America is dangerous because of all the school and public shootings. Things like these do occur, but does that stop us from walking around the Plaza or going to school? There’s really no point in thinking of what could happen, when you could be living in the moment.
However, that being said, you do have to be smart and go with your guts in certain situations. Especially if you’re a female. Unfortunately for females, it can be tougher traveling alone since there are people who underestimate women’s capabilities and believe that we are easy targets. So prove them wrong, ladies! Just remember, if your gut says don’t go down this dark alley, don’t go down the dark alley. But generally speaking for both males and females, be aware of your surroundings and be smart.
2. Be adaptable
Things happen, sometimes within and out of your control. It really depends on how you react and choose to move forward. When I first got pick-pocketed 5 minutes after I arrived in London, I was really self-doubting myself on continuing the trip, I even told my mom that I should go home. But I realized all of the things that were taken are replaceable and that I’m lucky they did not take anything important. Also, it would have been a waste of money to go home early since I would have to buy a new ticket home and that I won’t get a refund on the train tickets and hostel reservations.
If important items like your passport gets stolen, go to your local US or representative countries embassy, ASAP.
3. Act like you know what the hell you’re doing.
Clearly if you act lost and not walking with a purpose, you’re going to be an easy target. Even if you don’t know what the hell you’re doing, fake it. Walk with purpose and be confident.
4. Ask questions
It’s okay if you don’t know where you are going or where something is. Ask, go to a tourist info counter if you’re in a busy and public place or ask a shopkeeper. Especially in Europe, most people speak English and they’re generally very nice and willing to help.
Also, if you know somebody who has traveled to a city or country you’re visiting, ask away! Most likely, they’re going to be completely honored that you’re asking them. I know for a fact, I love it when people ask me for advice on visiting countries that I’ve been too. They’re going to be the best people to get advice from since they have first-hand experience.
5. Make friends
My favorite part about traveling is making friends. I have been extremely blessed to have friends from all over the world. Most likely that the people you have met while traveling, will take you out if you go to their home country, treat you to a nice home meal, or even let you stay while you’re there. Bring card games, go to the bar, socialize with your roommates! These are the type of people who appreciate traveling probably as much or more than you and most likely to give you great advice when traveling to other cities.
6. Have manners, respect their culture, and learn a little bit of the language.
I have seen many people from other countries just completely trash monuments and relics by leaving their mark with sharpies when there is clearly a sign that says “Do not vandalize” or are just complete assholes to the locals. You’re in a different country, respect their laws/rules/customs, especially since you’ll have to obey their punishments and fines.
Even if you can’t speak their language, a small gesture that you’re learning or trying can go a long way. Research basic phrases and words like, “please”, “thank you”, “hello”, “I’m from ______ (insert country)”, “can i have/buy this, please?”,etc.
7. You’re going to make mistakes and that’s okay.
I have made many mistakes whether it’s money, losing things, trusting the wrong people, poorly scheduling destinations, and more. I strongly believe that these types of mistakes can only make you into a better and smarter person. Also, if you plan on coming back to a certain country, at least now you know how things work.
These are all I could come up with, but leave a comment if you have any advice for those traveling alone. Also, I’m not responsible for anything that you decide to do, so please be smart. . 🙂