Here are a few tips I have learnt so far…
1. Don’t pack too much, if you make use of hostel laundry’s you can mix and match your outfits. Buy little things as you go, you really don’t want to make my mistake and over pack, meaning you have to carry that bag around everywhere AND sacrifice souvenirs and gifts from some amazing places all cause you thought you would need three pairs of jeans (one is enough)
2. If you want some peace and quiet, or to be left alone, make use of your headphones. This can be done anywhere from on the train, to in hostels, on the beach or sitting in a cafe. You don’t even need to play music, just wear them and (most) people will leave you alone.
3. Use body language if you don’t speak the local language, this can get you quite far. Just consider what you’re trying to say before acting it out. Makes you an awesome charades player for future games too!
4. Make sure you have a few plasters/bandaids in your bag, requesting these at a pharmacy can be hard (and expensive if you pick the wrong ones like I did in Napoli).
5. Book hostels, these are great as a way to meet people. Generally you can stay in mixed rooms or single sex however there is usually a communal area which everyone gathers to chill out, eat, watch TV, talk etc. You can get some travel advice for your next destination and give advice to fellow travellers. I have met some great friends in hostels and you never know, your next best friend could be waiting.
6. As meal times can be very lonely for the solo traveller, I would recommend having snacks at hand. Going to a cafe can make the loneliness set in so rather than do this (and pay for expensive meals) go to the local shops, markets etc and buy some snacks, or if you’re really hungry for a feed you can buy a few things from the markets and eat in a park or back at the hostel.
7. Don’t speak to much if you can’t speak the local language, you don’t want to make it obvious that you are travelling as this could make you a target for thieves or scammers. I found the Lonely Planet Phrasebooks handy. I was able to carry it around in my bag and pull it out when I was really desperate to find something (like the bank).
8. Carry cash, but not too much. There may not be many ATMs, or you could be charged high fees if you don’t have a cash passport (for New Zealanders, I used Kiwibank Loaded for Travel card, this is also available through NZ Post). Separate it through your bags and on your person. Ladies, the bra is a great hiding place. Don’t carry it all around at once either.
9. Use a tripod, selfie stick or ledge to get that perfect shot of yourself in frame (and without an arm taking over half the pic).
10. Take a book or your travel journal with you if you are going to a restaurant. Eating alone is very boring and while you’re waiting for your meal you can read or write. You realise how long it takes for food to arrive when you’re sitting there staring at the wall or at your nails.