Written by: Emilie Taylor, who travelled alone to Camp Thailand as a participant, June 2016
Oh how I love to travel. Why? There’s nothing that fills me with more joy as I wander the streets of new places, meeting new people and learning new things.
I have had some of my greatest life experiences and learnt the most about myself whilst in a foreign country and out of my comfort zone. It’s always nerve-racking for sure, especially when I am travelling on my own… The thought of flying somewhere on your own can be pretty scary! I know! Your parents probably aren’t keen on the idea either? Understandably! And that’s what I want to talk about.
I’m here to share with you my best tips and recommendations to help you take the leap and have the best time travelling solo, whilst keeping safe.
One of my favourite ways to travel is on my own; I love being in my own company and being able to see and do what I want to do on my own schedule and not have to worry about others.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve travelled with best friends, and my boyfriend and had the best time, but there’s something about the experience of travelling solo which you don’t get when you’re with others.
Travelling alone allows you to be at one with yourself, focus on making this experience everything YOU want it to be. It’s easier to meet new people, you become more confident and you will also feel proud that you’ve been on such a huge adventure all on your own. This is why I think everyone should travel solo at least once in their life!
I’m now going to share some of my best tips for the worries that crop up multiple times, to help put you at ease, as I know how daunting it can be booking that first flight for one person! I’ve been there and I want to help you thrive in the same environment that allowed me to grow so much as a person.
MY CAMP THAILAND ADVENTURE
Whilst travelling solo, I have stayed in some great places that enabled me to make friends easily yet also spend the time on my own if I need it.
I’ll admit some hostels I have stayed in were very unsociable so I wouldn’t visit again, yet some of my best experiences were in places where I was able to flourish.
Initially, I was a little bit nervous, but I knew I was in good hands with Camp Thailand. With a detailed itinerary, I knew lots of planning had gone into looking after such a big group. From signing up, to the end of the programme, I always felt in safe hands.
It began when we were put in a Facebook group with the other people in our intake. Straight away I could see everyone else was just as excited as I was, but a lot of us all had our little worries/questions. These were all soon resolved by the reps who were also in the group. They made us feel like a big family so we knew we were in good hands. Already, I was already making friends so knew I didn’t have to be worried about being on my own. Thanks to this group, we were all able to find people on our flights. This meant that once we were at the airport, we were already becoming best friends and sharing our excitement for real.
One of the best things about travelling with Camp Thailand meant that the usual worries such as, safety, getting lost and general knowledge of the area etc were all covered. Upon arriving in Bangkok, we were met by camp reps, so there was no need to worry about what to do next. It was all organized!
Within the first few days, I had already ticked off so many reasons on why I believe signing up to Camp Thailand as a solo traveller was one of the best things I have ever done. I met some amazing likeminded people who I am still in touch with almost 3 years later. I was surrounded every day by people who didn’t really know much about me, so I could just be myself without worrying about what people would think and most importantly, I was able to fully immerse myself into a new culture whilst keeping completely safe due to the fantastic reps at Camp Thailand.
So my number 1 tip for solo travel would be to just go for it! Have your wits about you and make sure you’re prepared! It’s easy to be dissuaded into not going, especially due to all the stories you hear, but the least you can do is just keep safe and have a great time!
Based on my experience of travelling alone, I have put together the below hints and tips to help you survive any solo expedition you may be thinking of undertaking
When I signed up to Camp Thailand, I did so on my own. I wanted to go out of my comfort zone and immerse myself in a new environment with new people so that my confidence would grow, I could become more culturally aware and of course, meet new people which is one of my favourite things to do.
There’s no such thing as too much research; at the end of the day, you’re only going to be in a place for a limited amount of time, so it’s best to research the area so you can optimise your time there.
It’s a good idea to look at places to maybe steer clear of. It’s a shame that some beautiful cities do of course have their ‘dodgy’ areas, whether these be specific streets or bars. I always aim to avoid these as a female travelling on my own as I don’t want to attract any attention from those who may have dangerous motives.
When arriving in a new place, you may want to research some main routes that you will be using regularly. If I know there are some specific sites/galleries etc I want to visit, I will always note down the route I need to take from my hostel. If it’s in walking distance then that is great, you can take in sites on the way.
However, if a bus/train is needed, it’s a good idea to write down the route number, where you need to change/get off etc. It’s things like this that will make your days run a lot smoother – it will also save time and money.
As getting lost may result in expensive taxi fares. I also suggest you look at offline maps that you can download and Google now has this capability!
I love to travel with a bum bag, and I keep it under my clothes. In here, I keep my money and phone. This stops pickpockets sneaking anything of value from your pockets. They can be very quick, so as long as you have nothing on show, your bag is done up. You shouldn’t be a target.
Tourist scams are a big thing to be aware of. Even those travelling in big groups can fall for these, so of course, as a solo traveller you don’t want to be vulnerable.
If you find locals approaching you to talk about things that you don’t really want to hear, just walk away. Sometimes, they use this as a distraction whilst someone else can be up to no good. Walk away if you have locals offering you something for free. Whether this be a tour, a ticket to something or even free drinks. Unfortunately, it’s very rare that people will give things out for free with nothing in return so as tempting as this may be, just be aware and try not to fall for this.
Wherever you may go, chances are, they live their lives slightly differently to how you live yours.
For example, a small gesture such as a thumbs up, or sticking your tongue out can actually get you arrested in some countries.
In Asia, it is extremely disrespectful to show the soles of your feet; in Thailand, you can even get arrested for standing on money.
These may be things you were not aware of, so it’s always good to look up different etiquettes for where it is you’re visiting.
More commonly, you may want to pack clothes that you wont be disrespected in. In some countries, women are expected to have their knees, chest and shoulders covered up. This may also be the case when entering some (mainly religious) buildings. So it’s a good idea to have these types of clothing packed so you can be prepared.
I always feel rude when I visit a new place and don’t speak any of the language. So I always make sure I learn basic phrases such as ‘Hello’, ‘Thank you’, ‘Goodbye’, ‘Please’ etc etc. This will show basic manners and locals will always appreciate it.
HAVING AN ITINERARY
When travelling, some people love to wing it. They will arrive at the train station/airport with no idea where they’re planning on going or how long for; I think that this is great, it’s exciting being a free spirit.
However, as a solo traveller, especially if it is your first time, I cannot recommend enough having everything planned. I always share this plan with my family too so they know where I am and when.
For example, I will type up my flight details, the route I need to my hostel, the address of my hostel, my route to the bus station, my bus details, my next route to my next hostel complete with dates and times etc etc.
As well as safety and whereabouts being a number one priority, it also takes a whole load of weight off your shoulders. You can relax a bit more, knowing you don’t have to find a last minute spare bed upon arrival. It also means you have time to look in advance at accommodating hostels with good reviews.