Discover the secrets to navigating London like a local.
7th June 2022
More and more of us see the country - and the world - by ourselves, to the extent that around 18% of those who book a trip travel alone. That’s according to the latest global survey 2022-2023 by the website Solo Traveler. Executives at Airbnb agree. Their research shows that post-pandemic, around 26% of all bookings are from solo travellers.
And it’s not just intrepid millennial backpackers or Gen Z who fancy setting out on their own and signing up for an adventure tour group – the trend is being taken up by all age groups, especially those aged 60 years or over. Tour group Explore Worldwide has set up a group specifically for this demographic.
So, if it’s given you ideas to strike out and join a tour going to a worldwide location you’ve always wanted to see, then read on. We’ve compiled a list of what you’ll need to pack and consider before you set out:
Luggage. Try and take as little luggage as possible. For instance, can you pack all you need into just your hand luggage? That way, it’s easy to store overhead on a train, and you won’t have to pay for luggage in the hold if you can get your bag into the plane’s cabin.
Also, the less luggage you have, the less likely you are to lose it or have it stolen. It will also be far easier to carry, meaning you won’t need to pay for a taxi to get to your initial destination. You won’t need to tip a porter to bring it to your room.
Clothing. Yes, it’s part of your luggage, but such a big part that we thought it deserved a section all to itself. First, every item you pack must go with lots of other clothing you take. That means packing along one colour palette. By this, we suggest having one base colour, such as black, brown or white and one colour, such as grey, to contrast. Finally, pack an accent colour, such as red or green.
If you’re going hiking, wear your walking boots while travelling. Take two pairs of comfortable shoes – a dressy pair and trainers or sandals. Clothes that have multiple uses are always a good idea, for example, a pashmina that can work as a beach cover-up, throw at night and cover from the sun and a scarf or necklace can dress up a casual T-shirt.
Money. When out and about, ensure you know where your money is at all times (a belt bag under your clothes is a great place to keep notes). Always store any money you’re not taking with you in a safe, whether in the room or at reception. Use a travel credit card, such as Revolut or Travel Money from the Post Office, so you don’t get charged interest when swapping currencies.
Travel insurance. If you get money or valuables stolen, then at least you won’t be out of pocket if you sign up for travel insurance before leaving for your trip. The cover will also pay for hospital stays and medical bills if you get injured or fall ill and may reimburse your holiday fees if you get caught up in a storm or other natural disaster.
Safety. Also, let someone you trust know where you are. It could be the receptionist in your hotel when you’re heading out or a family member before you move on to your next destination. Take a card advertising your hotel or B&B so you will know the address in the local language.
Be careful if you’re in a large city on your own at night – just as you would at home. Always keep a close eye on your drinks and be sure to look out for scammers.
Documents. It’s a good idea to take electronic copies of your passport, visa and insurance so that you always have them to hand. Do this by taking photos of the important info and emailing them to yourself.
Keep your real-time location secret. It can be tempting to snap an amazing view and share it on Instagram immediately (or whatever social media channel you’re on). But try and wait a few days - that way, people never know exactly where you are. Don’t post your hotel or Airbnb info at the time, either.
Selfie stick. Unless you want to be constantly badgering other people to take a photo of you, it's best to take a selfie stick, that way, you get the image you want to (rather than what someone else thinks should be in the background). If you’re more of a landscape or people photographer, it might be worth carrying a tripod with you rather than a selfie stick.
Make a playlist. Get a list of all your favourite songs and download them to your iPhone. Not only will you love listening to them at the time, but when you hear them again once you are home, they’ll bring back happy memories of your holiday.
Wear a wedding ring. If you want to avoid uninvited advances, then wearing a fake wedding ring can be a great way around this – especially if you enjoy going to bars on your own. The ring doesn’t have to be pricey – just so long as it sparkles and is big enough to spot.
Learn some phrases. Knowing how to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in the local language isn’t just helpful, it also usually gets you a smile from people who live there. It shows you’ve made some effort to understand a little of the language and culture, and bar or retail staff tend to appreciate that.
Listen to your gut. If something doesn’t ‘feel’ right, it probably isn’t, whether that’s a person, place or activity. Meeting new folk is great, provided they’re your kind of people. If going to a new location, do some research so you know the best areas to visit and also those to avoid.