Travel is exhilarating. It opens your eyes to the world, its people, the different cultures in it and all the amazing things the world has to offer and these are just some of the reasons why many are drawn to travel and the discovery that comes along with it. It is true; travel makes you realize what a small place you occupy in the world.

I have always travelled with friends and I have enjoyed doing so. It is such a great thing to be able to share new experiences with people who matter a lot to you and whose presence somehow just makes things a lot better. However, there came a time when major changes happened, things that were beyond my control. I hit a low point that all I wanted to do was to travel by myself, to heal and to get out of my comfort zone. 

I found myself booking a ticket to somewhere I have never been before, a place where I did not know anyone. My friends thought I was crazy because I booked a ticket without telling them and without telling to come along and especially because my trip was on the new year. 

Nobody wants to be alone during the new year they said. What was I thinking? I almost regretted my decision then but after having travelled alone I have discovered so much about myself and I truly enjoyed so I am thinking of doing it again in the near future. 

If you are thinking of embarking on your first solo travel, whether to faraway countries or nearby places, here are a few tips I would like to offer to make your first solo journey safe and fun! 

Stay safe 

Things can happen to anyone, anytime and anywhere. Just watch your local news and you will know what I mean. So, the issue of safety is relative. There are probably a few unsafe things happening on your city at this very moment. Know that you can only control yourself and not others.  

Let your friends and family know where you are going, the hotel where are you staying, how they can get in touch with you and when you will be back from the trip. Information such as this is crucial. Compile your itinerary on a single document and give it to people you trust. Doing so will make your loved ones feel at ease and will also make you feel better.  

Do not forget to stay in contact while you are on the road. This is something easy to do nowadays with apps things such as Whatsapp and Skype. Most hotels also have free wifi for guests to use so take advantage of both. 

When traveling, try to blend in with locals. Do not stick out like a sore thumb and do not display your money for everyone to see. Leave your expensive jewelry at home because they do nothing but call the attention of pickpockets and thieves. 

Do not draw attention to yourself. People can spot tourists from a mile away and this is because tourists usually have huge cameras, maps and puzzled look on their faces. Orient yourself with the place and try to read up on the places where you are going. Not only will you be safer, you will also be saving a lot of time by doing so. 

Be open minded 

Travel is about gaining a new perspective on things so be open minded. Learn more about other cultures and people’s viewpoints. Do not be threatened with ideas that do not agree with yours. There is always something new to learn everyday so welcome that opportunity. Respect others opinions, they might just teach you something new that will empower you and make your life better.  

If you are open minded, it will make traveling a lot more fun. You will be willing to trying new things and perhaps even try a few dishes and delicacies, which you would otherwise not eat. Here’s to hoping you do not get diarrhea, though. Just make sure that you bring some medicines with you, like I always do. Having tummy problems can really put a damper on your plans.  

Pack light 

If you want to make travel safe and fun, remember to pack light. When you pack light, you are in control. You will be faced with fewer line-ups at the airport and you will be more mobile. Being able to handle the luggage yourself will mean saving money because you can take buses instead of taxis. You will also be less of a target if you if you have a backup instead of someone who has multiple bags or a large suitcase. 

Pack comfortable shoes for walking and clothes appropriate for the weather. Follow carry-on rules according to your airline, watch out for restrictions on the size of bottle liquids and do not wear bulky items. Wear them instead. What I do is to always pack some a few shirts and one or two pants and shorts. Reusing your shorts and pants saves space and allows you fresh new clothes too.  

Meet people 

Solo travel is an excellent opportunity to meet new people. At most touristy places you are bound to meet more people in an hour than you would in a day. Do not shy away from meeting interesting people who can make your travel experience a joy. Take a walking tour of the city and hit two birds with one stone. Not only will you learn about the city’s history, you can meet other travellers too.  

Another thing that you can also try is to meet up with other solo travellers through social media. Although I have never personally tried this yet, a good number of people I know have and they have great things to say. There are also various hospitality-exchange networks such as Couchsurfing and Servas. However, when meeting people do not forget to exercise caution and always put your safety first.