As most of you know the term “travelling” covers a whole manner of meanings. You could be travelling to work, travelling to visit a long distance friend or most likely traveling abroad. In any case, for the nervous first time solo traveller the below tips have helped me a great deal and hopefully could do the same for you.
1. Be organised
Whichever method of travel you use (train/coach/plane etc) the best thing for you to do is make sure your arrive at your departure point on time. There’s no sense in cutting things too close and stressing yourself out, and putting a downer on the start of your trip. If it means sacrificing the night before to pack (which should be done already!) and getting up that much earlier then do it. Yeah ok so you might be tired the next day but deal with it! It will be worth getting there on time and stress free plus once you’re checked in/on your transport you can have a nap.
2. Be calm and polite
As a first time solo traveller you’re bound to get yourself a little worked up at some point. Worrying if you’re going the right way, if you should stop and double check the board in the departure lounge a 5th time, if you should follow a random group of people that look like they could be going to the same place as you. Stop. Stop right there, because the longer you spend dwelling on these questions, the more you start to doubt your own capabilities and instincts for the remainder of your trip. Best thing simply is to ask someone. Seriously. Most people are happy to help and they may even have a story to tell. Once your get your confirmation, panic over.
3. Be Open Minded
Ok so this is probably the most important part of your stay, especially when abroad. Remember that everyone, everywhere, in different parts of the world will always do things their way. Try to at least know how to say “Please” and “Thank you” in their language. They probably will not expect it but will greatly appreciate the attempt. Immerse yourself in their culture for however long you’re there. Ask locals about traditions. Visit old parts of the area to get a feel for it. Eat at traditional restaurants eating traditional food while listening to traditional music. You’ll really start to get a feel for the place once you start letting it in. And as most travelers could agree, if a place turns out to be better than you imagined, you might want to extend your stayand soak it up.
4. Be opportunistic
There’s a saying that sticks with me when I think of new situations and it’s this: “Smooth seas never made a skilled sailor”.
For me this saying says it all. Best way to become a well rounded traveler, is to learn and try things you ordinarily wouldn’t do back home. Being in another place gives us a certain amount of freedom, to try, to learn, to discover. If you get the opportunity to test your skills and push the boundaries then all I can say is I’ve never heard anyone rant about how they had the best time ever, because they decided NOT to try something new. It’s the dreamers and the chancers that test their limits and reap the rewards. Make sure whichever you chose you won’t regret it when the chance has gone.
5. Be you
There’s no greater feeling than enjoying your experiences, while being yourself. Chances are everyone is in the same situation and nervous about trying something new so they get shy, or a bit more reserved than usual but the majority of the time, they get over the initial fear and become their normal happy selves. Everyone you meet throughout your travels will have stories to tell, tips to share. All that’s needed is to just be you and ask. You may even have some tips of your own. But most importantly above all else, have fun. There’s not much point in throwing yourself into another culture, trying new things if you’re not cut out for it. If you’re traveling for a good few months remember there will be some nights that won’t be easy, but the memories will be worth it.