Millions of people go travelling solo every year and millions of people have a great time doing so.
It’s a time to grow as a person, spiritually, culturally, and even professionally.
But you’ll get none of these personal benefits if you don’t prepare for your travels by picking up some key skills before you set off.
I’ve listed the three most useful skills for solo travellers, explaining why you need them and how to get them.
You don’t need to be Sheldon Cooper to know that money management is key to travelling solo – you’re on your own and you need to be able to pay for the things you want to do, along with safeguarding you against unforeseen circumstances.
Unlike Sheldon, you won’t be able to hide your cash in an action figure’s butt – you’ll need to have it safely in your chosen accounts and somewhere secure on your person (like a fanny pack).
You’ll also need to make some big decisions about your finances – will you be working or saving up all the cash you need? Are you going to take coaches or internal flights? Yadda, yadda, yadda.
This doesn’t mean you can’t do fun, wild, and spontaneous things – perhaps you walk past a James Bond-style casino and decide you want to place a bet at the blackjack table – but it does mean you need to be sensible and do your research before making a financial commitment.
So, if you do decide to be James Bond for the evening, do your research on blackjack by reading this article and then you can at least spend your money wisely.
There are plenty of different reasons for going solo travelling – you may want to experience the world, get away from the place you grew up in, find yourself, or just have a long break from work.
But what’s important for many people is that they boost their communication skills, becoming more confident and assured with strangers.
And it’s unavoidable that you’ll need to do a lot of communication when you’re travelling.
You’ll need to communicate with people when you’re buying your food, booking activities, and having fun on a night out – you simply can’t stay a lone wolf when travelling alone.
My strong recommendation is that you practice and test your communication skills before you set foot on a plane, train, or automobile in two ways – use an app like Duolingo to pick up some of the local languages and start talking to people in bars to build up your confidence.
Many people think they’re safe pretty much all of the time – some may even have the attitude that “you don’t know the streets like I do” and believe they’ll never come to any harm.
It’s all good and well having this bravado, but it won’t do you any good in a brand new country, with brand new people (and streets to boot) – you need to be clever to stay safe.
Getting street smart when you’re travelling around different countries is about having an appreciation for cultural norms, regional quirks, and local nuances.
Now, you can learn a lot of these things from barely any research at all – for example, you’ll find out pretty quickly from Google that saying something derogatory about the king is a big no-no in Thailand.
There’s also a wealth of superb information (as you’d expect) from government resources – such as no-go-zones
However, the absolute best way to earn your street smarts is to see what’s being said by the people who’ve been to the places you’re heading. This means checking TripAdvisor and the Lonely Planet forum, as each will come will plenty of guidance.
Recommended reading: Best Places Abroad to Visit on a Budget
Money management, communication skills, and street smarts might sound like the basics of solo travelling, and it’s because they are.
Without these three things, your travels will be short, miserable, and unsafe.
So, practice them all before you book your ticket, because you’re going to need them from the moment your plane lands.