Authored by Parag Murali
Planning a solo jaunt across the land? If this is your first time planning a solo adventure abroad, I understand completely how excited and nervous you are. We were all once in your shoes. How to be a good solo traveler.
But before you slap on your backpack and march out that door, here’s a small checklist of things you might want to go through to ensure a smoother trip.
Research, Research, Research
Never underestimate the power of research. It doesn’t matter if you’re headed into uncharted territory or a bustling metropolis, it helps you greatly if you already know what to expect when you set foot in your destination. There’s nothing worse than experiencing culture shock – that alien feeling of the unfamiliar, so much so that a new environment becomes stressful and completely disorientating. So do some research to minimize this risk.
A quick google search should give you enough information on things like the local culture, geography, weather and political climate to start with. And don’t forget to check out the local laws and acceptable standards of behavior, those both written and unwritten. What should I research for travel planning?
Travelers find themselves in trouble almost daily for using the wrong gesture or for looking the wrong person in the eye. For instance did you also know that shaking your head can be interpreted as ‘yes’ in India?
“Hi, would you like to buy some drugs?
– Nervously shakes head –
“Great! Here’s two kilograms of cocaine!”
Learn a few words and phrases from the local language and the appropriate situations to use them in. You would be surprised at how much a ‘Yallah’ or a ‘Habibi’ will make people to warm up to you in the Middle East.
You may only be passing through a country in transit, but that’s the day you will find yourself stuck in a foreign airport wondering what to do next!
Smartphone translation apps are a fantastic help, however also carry a small notebook to list phrases and notes about the places you are visiting. When compiling your list of phrases, remember to write them out phonetically. For instance writing ‘спасибо’ in Russian is absolutely no help if you cannot read Cryillic. Instead write ‘spa-see-ba’ (hello). Those feeling particularly adventurous should consider writing out sentences in full.
Don’t be scared to try, or to ask a local for help with pronunciation. Locals are much more impressed by those who make the attempt to speak their language than by those who don’t try at all.
Who Ya’ Gonna Call?
It’s very useful to have a list of contacts on hand that you can get in touch with if, (knock on wood) you should ever find yourself in trouble.
Make a list of numbers for your home country’s Embassy/Consulate (stolen passports are a thing in some countries you know?), local emergency numbers, and leave a copy of your itinerary at home with someone you trust. If you have friends or relatives in the country/area, make sure you have their numbers as well, and carry a card with the details of your travel health insurance provider.
There’s no telling what kind of emergency you might encounter on the road.
Link up With Other Travelers and Locals!
This is for many people, the single greatest reward of solo travel – meeting new people. There’s so much you discover from engaging with people from different cultures and backgrounds. And so much to be gained from interacting with those who share the same interests and passion for adventure as you.
Being alive in the internet age has its perks. A slew of apps and websites have made it that much easier for travelers to get in touch with people at their destinations. It doesn’t matter if you’re just hanging out with your host from ‘AirBnB’ or finding fellow travelers to share in your adventure from apps like ‘Penroads’, you’re guaranteed to meet some cool people on your journey.
As a matter of fact, Penroads is the best way for you to connect with international travellers coming in from all over the world, so it’s definitely a useful tool to have.
Last but not least, take care of your body. Stay hydrated. It’s no good if your mind yells “Onward!” and your body groans “Hell no!”. Find out if you need to get vaccinated before setting off. Carry a basic travel first aid kit, especially if you’re venturing into the wilderness. Learn about how to prevent altitude sickness if traveling to destinations which are well above sea level.
On occasion you might have to be careful about where and what you eat as well. Talk to someone who has traveled to India and you just might hear the story about how the delicious chicken Tikka from a street vendor gave them a bad case of ‘Delhi Belly’.
So if you’re worried about the food and tap water, ensure that you have completed your research and consulted the locals or your hotel concierge before chowing down or taking a sip.
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