According to the 2011 Australian Household census about 1.3 million Australians aged between 40 and 69 live alone.
That’s a lot of potential solo Aussie travellers. Travelling on your own can be daunting. Who will you talk to about the sites you’ve seen? Who will you eat breakfast or dinner with? And you’ll have to work everything out on your own – from reading local maps to working out currency conversions.
When you’re travelling solo, it can feel like you’re surrounded by couples, families with children and young backpackers.
But travelling solo doesn’t have to be as daunting as it seems. Don’t let fear or loneliness stop you from seeing the world.
Top tips for travelling on your own:
- Keep an eye out for special solo deals where the single supplement is waived. Check out regular travel lift-outs like Escape and Traveller. Also, solo specialists (like Two’s a Crowd) often has independent solo specials on their website.
- Pack light – don’t be tempted to buy a huge suitcase and fill it to the brim. A medium case or larger backpack is ideal – remember, you’ll probably have to do all the lifting yourself and you don’t want to struggle getting it off the airport conveyor belt or up the stairs to your Tuscan villa!
- Book a flight that arrives during the day – it’s much easier to find hotels, airport buses or drivers during the day than in the dead of night.
- Book a hop on/hop off bus when you get to a new city. It’s the best way to get your bearings and identify the best the city has to offer. Do a full loop of the bus route before getting off to check out the highlights.
- Do your research – know local customs, religious protocols, handy phrases, the local currency…
- Keep safe – don’t tempt local thieves with fancy watches, gold chains and diamonds. Either leave your bling at home or in the hotel safe. Unless local law requires it, don’t travel with your passport – leave it in your hotel safe or have the hotel keep it in their main safe.
- Book into a couple of day trips or local classes such as a cooking class in Italy or a salsa class in Cuba – it’s a good way to meet new people and to share at least part of your trip with others
- Keep in touch – use skype, facebook messenger, Whatsapp and other free apps to keep in touch with those at home. If you want to have web access on the move buy a local SIM with lots of data, or check out local cafes and restaurants – they often provide free wifi if you buy a meal or a drink.
- Download a map app for your chosen destinations before you go. Apps like Googlemaps or Citytogo allow you to use maps of specific destinations offline so you’ll never get lost and won’t have to stop to pull out a huge local map. An app like GPSmycity allows you to read up on your destination on popular travel blogs before you go and download maps with GPS locations for the top spots mentioned in the blog post.
- Book a trip with a solos-only tour company like Two’s A Crowd and travel with like-minded individuals.
Ken Morgan is the Founder and Director of Two’s A Crowd.