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Solo travellers

Solo travellers
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12 tips for people travelling alone

If you are brave enough to take the plunge, lone travelling is an incredibly satisfying experience, but you do need to take a bit of extra care with safety. Here are Canadian Travel Clinics’ top tips.

1.      Pack light

Packing light is the key to a stress-free trip. It’s tough to manage heavy luggage alone, and you could end up injuring your back or your knees. Think thin, adaptable layers rather than bulky, specialized clothing and look into hiring equipment at your destination rather than carrying your own. Don’t bring loads of books. Either fill your phone or tablet with ebooks, or pick books up as you travel. Many hotels have a collection of left-behind books for guests to take.

2.      Flying free

Taking a flight alone can be stressful as everything is down to you. Reduce stress by giving yourself plenty of time for connections. If you have a long layover, splash out on a hotel room: if you fall asleep in the departure lounge, your belongings won’t be safe. Remember that you will have to look after your own baggage while you’re travelling, and that may mean taking them to the bathroom with you!

3.      Stay safe

If you go out for the day, let the receptionist at your accommodation know where you are going and when you can be expected back. You could even drop a message to someone back home – don’t forget to check in when you return, though! Don’t carry large sums of money around, and carry the numbers of emergency contacts. Caroline’s Rainbow Foundation has some excellent safety tips, especially for women travelling on their own. Accidents happen, though, and remember that your provincial health insurance will not cover you abroad. Get travel health insurance to make sure you are properly covered for every eventuality.

4.      Keep in contact

Modern devices make it really easy to stay in touch, and free wi-fi is available in many places. A smartphone or tablet can be useful for finding and booking accommodation and keeping up with the news, but don’t forget your charger and adaptor. Make use of social media to stay in touch. This can help you avoid homesickness and loneliness, too. Do take the time to chat with other people around you. You don’t have to make a friend for life, but even a quick conversation about the weather can do wonders for your wellbeing.

5.      Watch what you eat

Eating alone can feel peculiar at first, particularly if this is your first solo trip. Don’t stick to room service, though: you’ll miss out on all that wonderful local food. Bring a book, or a smartphone, or occupy yourself with a travel journal. You may find another solo traveller joins you – you can always hide behind your book if you don’t want to chat.

6.      Avoid infectious diseases

It’s extremely important you get all the recommended shots for your trip, so plan a detailed itinerary to identify any health risks involved. Although our experts at Canadian Travel Clinics recommend you get your vaccinations and anti-malarials eight to six weeks before you set off, we can help you if you have been spontaneous and booked last minute. Book online for an appointment to get travel vaccinations in Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Medicine Hat, Okotoks, Red Deer or Calgary.

7.      Know yourself

You are the best expert on your own mental health and resilience, and the wonderful thing about solo travel is that you can tailor your trip to meet your needs. So book a few luxury nights if you need them. Join a group if you don’t fancy doing that hike alone.

8.      Make a plan

Research can make the difference between a mediocre experience and the trip of a lifetime. Choose the countries you will be visiting wisely. Check the Government of Canada’s travel advisories to learn more about the security situation in your chosen destinations. The advisories will also tell you about health risks, laws and etiquette. Talk your itinerary over with someone who has visited the area, too.

9.      Study a map

Having no idea about the lay of the land can stress even the most unflappable. Get a map of your destination and plan your route before you set out for the day. Write down the address of your accommodation – in the local alphabet if necessary. Ask for directions if you think you’re lost, and make a note of landmarks. It’s a good idea to get into the habit of turning round from time to time and looking back down the way you’ve just come. This will help you if you need to re-trace your steps.

10.      Manage your money

What’s the cheapest and safest way to change money? You will need to research this before you go otherwise you might get stung by charges. Talk with your bank to find out if they have any services for travellers. You may need to let them know you are travelling in any case so that your card does not get blocked. Don’t leave all your money in one place, and don’t assume it will be safe in your accommodation. A money belt is a good purchase, and don’t flash your cash or cards around.

11.      Sexual health

According to research, you’re up to three times more likely to catch a sexually transmitted infection as a result of unprotected sex during international travel. The exhilaration of solo travel can lead to risk-taking behaviours so pack a supply of condoms just in case. The Canadian Travel Clinics specialist nurses can provide all sorts of advice about travelling solo, including sexual health and sun safety when you get your travel vaccinations in Fort McMurray, Medicine Hat, Okotoks, Red Deer, Calgary or Edmonton.

12.      Experienced travellers say…

A quick informal poll of experienced travellers at Canadian Travel Clinics came up with these final tips:

  • research any known tourist scams in the area
  • stay sober unless you’re in trusted company
  • photocopy your travel documents
  • take a photo of your hotel’s address on your phone or camera – it could be useful if you get lost or if your camera gets lost; and it will be a useful record of where you have been, too