I’m 27, single and I love to travel. God has blessed me with many incredible travel experiences over the years; however, until last fall, I had always gone with family or friends. To be honest, I actually said at one point, “I will never travel alone!” Well, since most of my friends are either nurses or teachers, and being a nurse myself, corresponding vacation times have proven challenging to say the least.
Last summer, the thought occurred to me, If I keep waiting for a travel buddy, I’ll never leave town! After much thought and prayer, I decided to take the leap and go on a grand adventure by myself. When I brought up the subject with my parents, their initial reaction was, “We don’t want you travelling alone.” However, when I shared my carefully thought-out plans with them, their reply soon became, “We wish we were going with you!” From Sept. 30 to Oct. 6, 2013, I traveled to Edinburgh and the Isle of Skye, Scotland by myself, and it was one of my favorite and most memorable trips. For anyone who is considering travelling solo, go for it! Here are some tips for a safe trip.
Make a Plan
As soon as I decided on Edinburgh and Skye, I looked into all the possible things to do, and based on the amount of time I was planning on spending at each location, I selected a few “must do’s” and a few “would like to do’s.” I chose hotels and B&Bs that were either close to the activities I wanted to do or had easy access to transportation. I booked my “must do” activities in advance, and I looked up bus schedules and opening/closing times of the “would like to do” activities. I kept my schedule flexible in case I decided to change my plans if something more exciting came up.
Where possible, book B&Bs and things to do ahead of time. Communicate with your hosts and the people running your activities so you have contacts when you arrive. If you’re a little apprehensive about traveling alone, it can help ease your anxiety since you know someone is expecting your arrival.
Use Common Sense
I took karate in high school and self-defense in university. I also grew up with three brothers and learned a little about wrestling over the years. Even with that knowledge and experience, I preferred not having to use those skills while I was away. While travelling solo, you need to travel smart, especially in a foreign country where the saying, “Don’t go anywhere alone,” doesn’t apply the same way. Use your smarts.
Where possible, do activities within view and earshot of other people, or go on guided tours. If you can help it, don’t go out anywhere into the wee hours of the night, and of course, don’t venture down any dark alleyways. I was in my hotel room or B&B every night between 7 and 8 p.m., and honestly, I did so much hiking or walking during the day that I was exhausted (in a good, healthy way!) and was ready to head in for the night.
One purpose of my trip was to physically get away and be on my own for a week. I did, however, leave the address and contact number for every hotel and B&B at which I was planning to stay, with my parents. I also left them my rough itinerary so they could keep track of where I was during my travels. I brought my computer and my cellphone along so I could use the free Wi-Fi my accommodations provided. And, though I didn’t plan on it, I did end up emailing home almost every night — mostly so I could share my excitement over the amazing things I got to do each day, but also to let my family know I was safe so they didn’t worry.
Consider revisiting a place to which you’ve already been. I had travelled through Scotland with a friend while on a Contiki tour a couple of years ago. Because of the research we did for that trip as well as the places we visited while on the tour, I was familiar with certain areas and I was comfortable using the bus system.
Remember, it’s the Lord who has given you the desire and the means to travel. It’s important to seek His guidance, wisdom and discernment in planning your trip, in keeping you safe while you’re away, and in leading you to the right contacts who can help make your experience even better. My B&B hosts made all the difference in my trip, and I know it was because God used them. Having an invaluable knowledge of the area, they gave me excellent recommendations on where to go, things to do, places to eat, and one host even picked me up and drove me to a couple of my destinations. What a blessing!
One more tidbit: Pick a day song! I chose Hillsong Young & Free’s song “Alive” (the studio version) as mine, and I played it every morning as I went on my way. It’s fun, upbeat and filled with truth that God used to remind me of His love every day as I traveled.
Laura-Beth King is a perioperative registered nurse at a hospital in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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