Today we welcome Sam Tickell – friend, fellow motorsport and travel enthusiast (of RacerViews) – to talk to us about travelling solo. So without further ado, we present Sam’s “10 Tips for the Lone-Traveller”
Recently I went on a six week European and Chinese holiday…… Alone.
There were a number of things that I learned from this wonderful experience. If you’re travelling alone it can be liberating and a lot of fun. And after this, it will be my preferred choice of travel…so here are the top 10 things I learned that could help you.
1. A good travel agent
I know what you are saying, can’t I just get on Expedia? Well yes you can but remember when you travel alone you’re the only one to fix things when something goes wrong. Best to have someone on your team. I had Olivia from Helloworld on my team. When I needed to fix something with my Chinese visa, who did it? Me from Germany or her from home? It was her, it allowed me to continue holidaying without stress. And she got me awesome deals, the flights were cheap and the rooms she got me were better and cheaper than the ones I got for myself. She is a pro, remember that.
The best app for when you’re travelling. Everything is there on your phone. Maps, reservations, flight numbers, flight changes, everything. Saved so much hassle and paper work.
3. Good location based mobile app
Guidebooks are so yesterday. And so is the information in them. I had a few apps – one example was the Michelin app. Location based and always updated so when I wanted a particular type of restaurant or tourist outing, it could tell me and direct me there.
4. Multiple devices
An iPhone (other smart phones are available) is great. But when you’re on a train or what-not and in a foreign country, you can’t rely on power all of the time – so I had an MP3 player, iPhone and a laptop. I had everything I needed and it made life super-easy. Sure the iPhone could have done it all but not with the ease and the battery life that I needed.
5. A good camera
I spent a lot of money to go and do what I did, so an iPhone wasn’t going to cut it when it came to documenting the trip. I took my DSLR with me and a few nice lenses. I learned how to use it and took some great photos to remember my trip by. And over 6 weeks I took only about three selfies… I know what I look like.
6. Something to note your experiences
And really if you’re travelling you need to record it. I went travelling in 2005 and didn’t keep a good record and it bugs me. This time I kept a blog, the 2015 version of a diary, I guess. I blogged and didn’t bother my Facebook friends so much. With the help of the internet it became a book. The laptop and DSLR have now given me a great keepsake and a better memory than crappy little souvenirs that break and whose shops are gentrifying our travel experience.
7. Courage or at least a sense of adventure
You’re by yourself? You could go crazy. I know I write this as a white male but you need a bit of courage. Depending on where you are the night won’t hurt you. People talking with you won’t hurt you. I made some great friends and did things I never would have done in a group. Saw things I never would have seen if I didn’t have the guts to think that the worst thing that could happen is I get robbed. It comes to perspective too, what is the worst that could happen is a personal choice…
8. Flexibility or adaptability
Things don’t always go to plan. Trains can be missed, the stores and museums can be shut. I found that not planning so much gave me that sense of freedom and allowed adventure. I got to a small village at one point, I was offered a lift to go further. I did. The flexibility gave me a better adventure than turning around and going to a different activity.
9. Don’t be a sheep
The tourist traps are great – they are popular for a reason. But is it why you travelled? I went to the Louvre but it meant nothing to me. I don’t know a Picasso to a paint by numbers. The Alternative Berlin Tour gave me a way better experience of Berlin than the churches and museums of Paris. It was a lesson for me. Work out what YOU want to see, not what a guide book and school tells you to see.
10. Noise cancelling headphones
Planes, trains, and other people can be noisy and annoying. Your hearing is precious. Invest in a great pair of headphones and a decent MP3 player. On a 30 hour flight, you won’t regret it.