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12th November 2012

Guide to Travelling Alone

Lucy Gardner takes you through the must-dos before travelling alone

With higher tuition fees and a question mark hovering over whether just a degree will secure you a job nowadays, many young people make the decision to take a gap year before, and even after, university in an attempt to see the world. However, when all of your friends decide to head off in to the world of further education or employment, who are you going to go jetting off with? Travelling on your own is daunting and without a doubt your parents will give many a lecture in an attempt to keep you nice and safe within the UK despite you being 21 and not having lived with them for 3 years. However, staying safe on your own is easier than you may think, here’s some tips on how to get by:

1. Make a plan and let people know it. If you have a rough idea of where you’ll be and when, write it down and give a copy to your nearest and dearest. Then if anything happens or you’ve ignored today’s 10th call from your mum at least they will know how else to contact you in case of an emergency. Leaving your hostel’s number may also come in handy.

2. Keep your documents safe. This seems simple enough but remember when you insisted you weren’t going to lose your second student ID card on that night out last week? You don’t need to strap your passport to you Eurotrip style but check that your hostel has a safe available for you to store things in overnight and when you’re out ensure that everything is safely zipped up in your bag and you keep it close – big cities are rife with pickpockets waiting to catch tourists off guard.

3. Packages. If you don’t fancy seeing the sights completely alone (someone needs to take the embarrassing photos of you holding up the leaning tower of Pisa) check out offers aimed at gap year takers and students. STA Travel and similar websites offer a range of volunteering holidays around the world where you are part of a group who will be living, volunteering and socializing together for the duration of your stay – a great way to make new friends and connections all over the world!

4. Research your destination. What areas are safe to go? What should you be careful about and look out for? Know where you are going and learn some of the local lingo, being alone means you and only you are responsible for your safety.

5. Be sensible! Okay, this one sounds patronizing but really, getting a bit too tipsy at the friendly local bar with your new friends might seem like a good idea at the time but getting back to your accommodation with all of your possessions safely is a bit difficult when you are finding it difficult to make out the foreign street signs. Also, no matter how tall, dark and handsome the helpful stranger may be, keep your wits about you.

6. Get comfortable and have fun. Don’t feel self-conscious about sitting alone at the Parisian café or Berlin bar – enjoy seeing new places (without being dragged around yet another art gallery by your mum or to that football stadium with your dad) and meeting new people!

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