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Solo travel: 10 tips for your trip alone

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Amanda has traveled alone in El Salvador. Read her 10 tips for solo travel.
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Solo travel: 10 tips for your trip alone is written by Amanda Rico Abildskov.

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Solo travel in the sensible way

When I told my friends and family that I had decided to travel alone to Central America and that I had booked my ticket to El Salvador, so most of the reactions were, "Well, isn't that dangerous?"

And then came the worries and speculations. Not my own, but my surroundings. Because it can be dangerous in El Salvador and especially in the capital - depending on which urban area you are in. But there is no more dangerous than so many other places, and whether you travel alone or with others, you have to to use his common sense.

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Learn about the country you need to visit

There are different ways of seeing and traveling the world - in relation to cultural differences, attitudes, attitudes, environments, religions and so on. It is easy to do something inappropriate if you have not familiarized yourself a little with the country's conditions and way of doing things beforehand.

Here are my top 10 tips for you who want to embark on a solo journey - especially as a woman.

Solo travel

1. Arrive while it is light

As far as possible, it is a good idea to travel and arrive at a new place while it is still bright. That way, you have a greater overview of where you are, whether you can read the signs and better orient yourself.

Arriving at a brand new place when it has gotten dark can feel unsafe because there are not that many people on the street and shops and offices are closed so it can be harder to ask for directions and the like.

In that situation, it is a good idea to make an appointment with the place where you are going to spend the night, to be picked up by taxi. That way, you are sure to drive with a reliable driver and avoid having to travel around in the dark for the right address.

Solo travel

2. Your first night on your solo journey

Make sure you have at least booked your first night at your new destination. Possibly close to the bus terminal or airport you arrive at. It's not nice to stand in an unknown place and have no idea where east and west are, or how to get a taxi, as well as where there is a place to spend the night at all - I'm talking here from experience.

3. Card and address

When you go on solo trips, it is a really good idea to have downloaded the most important ones travel apps. An 'offline map' on your mobile, so you can always find out where you are - if you do not have that option, take a few screenshots of the address you need to go to on your mobile via a map. Also, make sure you have the correct, full address listed for your accommodation both on your mobile and written down somewhere on paper or in your notebook.

That way, you have the important information in case your mobile should run out of power - or need to ask for directions. Double check the address. What are some of the major attractions nearby? Monuments? Large main streets? You can not count on your driver if you take one, for example fee, know where the address is just because you printed it out and showed him a map, so it's good to have a famous building to navigate around.

Solo travel

4. Currency

It is a good idea to have some cash on you in the local currency when you arrive in another country. You can not be sure that the credit card can be used everywhere if you are outside the big cities and in public transport, as well as taxis they usually prefer cash.

If not, that you have the opportunity to exchange for the local currency, before you set off on your solo trip, travel with at least US dollars. They are often easier to exchange for local currency than Danish kroner.

However, you do not have to travel with several thousand kroner in cash, as you already as a tourist, backpacker and woman stick out and signal that you travel with valuables.

Solo travel

5. Cash and cards

On solo trips, you can be extra vulnerable to thefts. Therefore, always make sure that you have your cash placed in several different places on your body and in your luggage. The same is true if you have multiple credit cards with you. If you have it all gathered in the same purse and the same bag, then you will be without any cards or cash, should you be so unlucky that someone robs you of your bag.

So my advice is to have your cash and cards spread out in both your large travel backpack, in your hand luggage as well as having cash and cards directly on you.

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6. Trust yourself - and lie, if necessary

It is important that you listen to your gut feeling when you go out on solo trips. Trust yourself and your own decisions. There are always some friendly souls who will offer their help and a “good” service when you arrive at a new place while standing there vulnerable and confused with your luggage and looking around.

Most important of all is your own safety and to travel safely on. It is not always the price that will necessarily determine how you get from A to B. Rely on your own judgment when people approach you. If you are not comfortable, do not go along.

Keep an eye on your belongings at all times and do not fuss with money or mobile in a public place where everyone can keep an eye on you. Set yourself up against a wall or sit down somewhere and put your luggage away so you have peace of mind while you create an overview. Maybe some of the locals will greet you and you will be asked by strangers if you are traveling alone.

In these situations, it can sometimes be worth considering lying and telling people when they ask you that you are waiting for your friend or traveling with a larger group. No matter how uncomfortable it may feel to lie, it can be a good strategy not to have strangers and curious souls too close to you if you do not want to.

If the men are too approachable, it can also be a strategy to wear the ring and say you are married and traveling with your spouse.

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7. Select dine means of transport with care on your solo travels

If you have not already arranged for someone to come and pick you up from a specific transport company or one shuttle service from your hostel or similar, then you have several options. If you arrive at an airport, I recommend that you either buy a ticket for one space shuttle further from the airport before you leave the airport itself, or that you take a regular taxi and agree on a price before boarding.

The reason why you have to buy your ticket before you leave the airport is that there are often many drivers outside the airports' exits waving various brochures and offers and shouting for all those who have arrived and competing for customers. Here it is not always easy to say no thank you, or find out what pays off best.

If you need to change means of transport along the way, be as well informed as possible before your arrival about your options. If you decide to take a taxi, always ask for the price to your destination before boarding the taxi. If there is wifi in the area, order an 'Uber'.

If it is within walking distance, make sure you have informed yourself about the direction and address thoroughly before you start walking, so that you do not have to fumble with mobile and printed maps along the way. Wear good solid shoes. Make sure you have packed your luggage then smooth as possible so that you can easily walk to the address you need to with as free hands as possible.

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8. Spot other backpackers

When you travel, you will often meet other backpackers who are also on a solo trip. Of course depending on where you are and when in the season you are traveling. Sometimes you can already spot the other travelers at the airport, at bus stations, in the bus itself, or when you arrive somewhere. Often they are also on the road just like you. So it can be a great help to find together.

If it feels natural, contact them, ask where they are going and if you might need to share a taxi or an Uber. That way, it can feel safe for both parties to have someone to accompany. At the same time you save money. Maybe the other traveler can give some good advice or a tip for a place to visit.

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9. Announce your arrival

If you feel it would be nice for someone to know the approximate time you will arrive at your destination on your solo travels, inform your accommodation of your arrival time so they know when to expect to see you.

Another good idea is to give them your mobile number so they can contact you if there are any changes. You can also make an agreement with the place you are traveling from to contact them and let them know when you have arrived and can thank them for good treatment and service.

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10. Combine on your solo trips with group trips

A new place, a new city, a new country. What to do? It is always a good idea to buy a guided tour of the place where you have landed. That way you get the most important information about the place, attractions, things you have to take into account, and you will definitely meet others on the guided tour who are also traveling alone or with whom you can strike up a conversation.

And who knows; maybe you agree to meet and have dinner together or something completely different.

Have fun with your solo travels!

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10 good tips for your solo travels

  • Learn about the country you'll be visiting so you know what you're getting into.
  • Arrive while it is still light, so you have a better overview and can find your way around better.
  • Book at least your first night away from home
  • Report your arrival to your accommodation so that someone knows where you are
  • Download an offline map on your phone so you can always find your way
  • Withdraw some local currency so you always have cash on you
  • Trust your gut and lie if necessary
  • Choose your means of transport carefully
  • Spot other backpackers and hang out with them
  • Place your cash and cards in different places on your body so you don't lose everything in case of theft.

About the author

Amanda Rico Abildskov

Amanda runs her own travel-related business Homepage and Facebook page. She is half Danish and half Spanish and grew up in an Andalusian village. She travels to Spain several times a year both on family visits but also to explore new exciting places. She is a trained tour guide and has worked in Spain, Turkey and Thailand.

Most of Amanda's travels go to the Spanish-speaking countries, and she has, among other things. been backpacking in Costa Rica, Cuba and Mexico. Amanda is, in addition to a tour guide, a trained school teacher and musician. Her approach to local life is often music, snorkeling and diving or mountain biking. She will be in Central America as well as South America until the end of 2019.

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