Traveling Alone Survival Guide:

1. Talk to Traveling Experts

2. Take Baby Steps

3. Stick to the Beaten Path

4. Sign up for Organized Events

Traveling Alone
A Beginner's Guide

- Karen Banes

So many people have what they think are wild and crazy dreams, just because other people they know don't seem to share them. If you dream of backpacking round the world, volunteering abroad or climbing Kilimanjaro, don't be put off by the fact that your current friends don't share your spirit of adventure. Copia Magazine: Traveling Alone

The idea of travelling alone is daunting if you've never done it, but like most things in life, the more you do it the more natural it feels, and there are some easy ways to prepare for your first solo trip.

Talk to other people who've done it. Find them in the forums of major travel websites. The more you chat to other solo travelers the more comfortable you'll get with the idea. Try to meet real travelers as well. This could be as simple as finding the travelers' hang-outs in your own city and hanging out there yourself.

One traveler I met on a year-long round-the-world trip had started out by applying for a job in a backpackers' hostel near her home town. Psychologically, meeting and befriending all those backpackers, many of whom were travelling alone, desensitized her to the fear of doing it herself. Practically, she ended up with a ton of contacts all over the world that she could all on for help, friendship and free accommodation on her travels. Physically, she got herself on the first leg of her trip (the small town she lived in didn't have a backpackers' hostel so she had to move to the nearest big city - alone - to get the job).

Copia Magazine: Traveling Alone Talking to other travelers is also a great way to research where you want to go and what you want to do when you get there, become awareof safety issues and travelers' scams (don't let them put you off, just be aware and avoid them) and pick up tips on great places to stay/eat/pick up work.

Ease into it slowly. If the thought of going to the local coffee shop on your own feels weird, try doing a few activities in your home town alone to get used to it. But don't feel daunted by how uncomfortable this can be. For some reason it's sometimes harder to go to familiar places alone, if you usually go in a group, than it is to be in an unfamiliar place alone. Sometimes, if you have big plans, it helps to take small steps first. If you want to take a year off and travel the world, moving a few hours away and taking some seasonal work can really ease you into it.

Stick to well-worn travel routes to start with. There's often a kind of competitiveness among long-term travelers as to who can claim to have visited the most out-of-the-way, off the beaten track, 'no tourist ever goes there' kind of place. Save that for when you feel completely comfortable traveling alone. To start with, stick to the popular travelers' trails. In doing so you'll discover something interesting - you never really travel alone. Everywhere you go, if you stay in backpackers' hostels or hang out in travelers' haunts, you will meet, talk to, and sometimes make lifelong friends with other travelers.

Copia Magazine: Traveling Alone This is, of course, why you eventually want to get off those trails - to really mix with the locals and experience the culture. But there's nothing wrong with starting with 'easy' travel and progressing to more challenging (and therefore even more exciting) travel as you gain more confidence.

Consider making part of your trip some kind of organized activity. The joy of solo travel is being able to set your own schedule, be spontaneous and follow your own interests. But new solo travelers sometimes like the comfort of signing up for an activity where you're guaranteed to meet like-minded people and have some company for a while. It could be a trek into a more remote part of the country, a scuba diving trip to some local islands, or getting involved in a volunteer project.

So now you're prepared, go book that trip. Solo travel can be one of the most rewarding experiences you'll ever have.

Copia Magazine
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