A long time ago now, maybe even as much as a decade, I was speaking to a friend of a friend who happened to have just returned from a month of solo travel. I was transfixed. I’d assumed most people would never be crazy enough to actually travel solo without the requisite film crew and voice-overs that normally accompany people travelling alone on the TV. But here was proof. People actually do it. And they come back in one piece.
Over the course of a few rounds of drinks, I discovered some travelling tips from the real-life Columbus sat in front of me. Here’s what I found out.
Clothing that Lasts
I found out that some of the most reliable clothing for travel can be more heavy-duty than you’d think, especially if you are going to be volunteering or working outside along the way (check out these workwear clothing options, for example). Apparently, for people who want to ensure they don’t succumb to injury while travelling – which could put you out of the game – the more robust the apparel, the better.
It kind of makes sense when you think about it. Lightweight everyday wear is one thing, but when you only have yourself to depend upon while travelling alone, can you really risk an injury? Toes and ankles are fragile things, and you’ll be on them all day. Wrapping your feet and dressing your body in the best protection possible is a trick that once learned you’ll never be able to overlook when packing your bag, especially for long trips! This is particularly important for solo travellers, as you don’t have anyone else to rely on to take care of you if something were to go wrong.
Go to the Tourism Office
Towns and cities generally have tourism offices. Most people are too proud to walk up to the desk and say, “Hello, I’m planning on staying in town for the next couple of days, is there anything I shouldn’t miss while I’m here?”. But I have been told this is a chance to make the most of the flow of culture while you’re there.
For example, if a particular area of town (or even a specific bar or café) has recently become the epicentre of an art movement or political drive, you won’t find out about it through the normal means. You need to speak to people on the ground. A tourism office can help you to make the most of an area in the short time you’re there.
BONUS TIP: hotel staff members are another great resource for local information. You can walk up to the desk in any hotel and ask for advice, even if you aren’t staying at that hotel!
Read relevant history books before you go
Tourism boards and online reviews are a great way to start. But if you really want to do or see something spectacular, you need to head slightly off the beaten path.
For example, did you know there’s an underground tunnel system in Liverpool, England, called the Williamson Tunnels (built by Joseph Williamson in the early 1800s)? It’s an underground world with no apparent purpose – there’s a banqueting hall and everything – and you can buy a ticket to see it.
The more you look into the weird and wonderful things in history books, the more hidden gems you’ll uncover.