There are few things as exhilarating as travelling solo. From choosing your destination, to booking transport to actually setting off on your travels – the whole experience is part of the journey. Solo travel might be daunting, so follow our tips for solo travellers to brush off your worries and have the best holiday.
Of course, the first concern for any solo traveller (or your friends back home!) is your safety. Take a few precautions such as purchasing comprehensive travel insurance, carrying the details of your emergency contact, noting where your embassy is and letting your family know what nights you’re staying at the Hyde Park International Hotel. You can update social media to keep your nearest and dearest in the loop. Share updates that only go to your closest friends if you’re social media shy!
Embrace the freedom
As a solo traveller, you’re in the luxurious position of being able to decided exactly how to spend every moment of your trip! Decide what is most important to you in a destination. Rather than going to the typical tourist attractions, you might prefer to research more alternative museums. You can always skip a few landmarks in favour of taking public transport to the outskirts of the city. Rather than compromising over where to eat, you can follow your own nose. The choices are endless when you travel independently.
Choose accommodation carefully
Decide what type of accommodation is right for you. Rest assured that even if you’re travelling on a budget you can still find hotels with reasonable rates for lone travellers. Even in such a notoriously expensive city, there are always special deals London hotels that won’t cut into your holiday fund. Be sure to read the reviews carefully and seek out feedback from other solo travellers. You might prefer to avoid accommodation which caters predominantly to families or couples.
Avoid single supplements
Some hotels, cruises and tours might charge a single supplement. It pays to shop around to avoid these fees. Boutique accommodation such as the Hyde Park International do not implement any solo supplements on double occupancy bedrooms. You may find that tours or cruises are more likely to impose supplements during high seasons, so try to be flexible with your dates and travel during low or shoulder seasons if possible.
Set your travel budget
One thing that all travellers need to do, but something that can be more challenging for solo travellers is setting a daily budget. If you need to make your money stretch, opt for using local public transportation rather than travelling by taxi. Familiarise yourself with the etiquette regarding gratuities when dining and taking tours as this can take its toll on independent travellers.
Sign up for a workshop
If you feel like socialising, check out local workshops and day courses in your destination and book yourself in. Depending on where you are, this might range from a local cooking class to an outdoor yoga lesson to a pottery workshop. For example, those travelling solo on London weekend packages might be able to find a craft festival taking place, or discover that a bar offers free, group dance lessons before they get busy. It’s a great way to make new friends, learn a new skill, and do something a little different!
In cities such as London, you can pick up reasonable free Wi-Fi connections in restaurants, museums and on the London Underground. But solo travellers in particular might prefer to be more connected. Check with your service provider before you travel, and make a note of their charges for international calls and roaming. A cheaper option for those with an unlocked mobile phone, you can pick up a local SIM card. This way you can use apps whilst out and about, update your family, and make local phone calls.
Download the relevant apps
When planning your trip, find out what the most useful apps for the country or city you are visiting are and ensure you download these in advance. This might be a currency exchange app, local taxi apps, city maps or tour agencies. Once you’ve got your local SIM card, apps will streamline your sightseeing experience. Even if you get lost, find yourself lost in translation, or need a quick coffee shop recommendation – there is certainly an app for that.
Pack a book
Whether you prefer to read a traditional paperback or from your e-reader, make sure you have a book or two to get stuck into whilst on public transportation. Why not let your book choice be inspired by your destination? Use the money you save by booking a special London hotel deal to purchase a tome about or set in the city – you’ll find plenty of options to choose from.
Dine in style
Even the most gung-ho solo adventurer might feel daunted by eating alone whilst on holiday alone. But, trying the local cuisine is all part of the adventure – so don’t miss this cultural highlight. Take a book, journal or download a podcast to enjoy whilst eating out. Use the time to people watch. If you go to a quieter cafe, you might find that servers and other diners strike up a conversation with you. Ask the reception at the Hyde Park International Hotel for tips on where the current food festivals and markets are. Usually these places will hand out free samples before you commit!
Learn a few local phrases
If you’re travelling to a country where a different language is spoken, try to remember a few basic words and phrases. Locals always appreciate the effort made to communicate in their language! If you’re travelling to London as an English speaker, be prepared for slang terms. If you hear that it’s raining ‘cats and dogs’, you’ll definitely want to grab your umbrella. If you’re invited to ‘tea’ it may mean either the steaming national beverage, or it might even mean dinner. And ‘you alright?’ is how we ask, ‘how are you?’