Essential Tips for Solo Backpackers
The appeal of travelling solo is easy to see. You get to choose when and where you go and everything stays as simple as possible. What’s more, if you stay at a London Backpackers hostel, then you’ll be able to explore solo and enjoy lots of company at the same time. That’s because our hostel will be full of like-minded travellers and explorers with whom you can mingle in communal areas like the kitchen and lounge to swap advice, tips and suggestions. As exciting as travelling alone can be, it’s vital that the solo traveller takes a few extra precautions to stay safe. These are a few bits of advice we’ve picked up over the years:
Do Your Research
The research you do on your destination before setting off will do two things. It will make sure that you know everything there is to know about the technical aspects of your trip such as tickets and bookings, and it will free up your time once you arrive. It will also mean that you come fully prepared for the environment of country you’re visiting. Things you should research include:
- The visa requirements of the country
- What the climate is like and what kind of wardrobe you’ll have to pack to deal with it
- Where’s the best place to convert your money and what the conversion rate is at the time of your travel
- Are there any local customs you need to be aware of – for example, will you need to tip people such as taxi drivers, waiters and doormen
There’s a high chance you’ve bought travel insurance in the past and ended up not having to use it. With this in mind you may be tempted to save the money it costs and not bother buying one. This would be a huge mistake. Travel insurance is a vital safety net in case you need emergency medical treatment while you’re travelling, or you have to cancel your trip due to certain reason or even to cover more mundane risks such as lost luggage.
Carry a Map
In the digital age it can be all too easy to fall into the habit of sourcing absolutely all your information online, but when it comes to the maps you need to get around safely this would be a huge mistake. Wi-Fi provision can be extremely patchy, and you may not always have the data available to get online and look up your route. That’s why it’s vital to have an offline map loaded onto your device, which you’ll be able to access whether you have a good signal or not. Even if you do something as simple as taking a photograph of a physical map, you’ll always have a visual guide to refer to when the moment arises.
Buy a SIM card
As noted above, Wi-Fi is far from universal and even if it is freely available it can often be painfully slow. Rather than wasting many precious minutes of your trip waiting for yet another website to download, you should purchase a local SIM card with a budget data plan. SIM cards of this kind along with the pay as you go deals they come with are often extremely cheap. You’ll be able to quickly and simply look up vital things like directions and booking details, as well as send text messages to friends.
Back Up Documents
The chances are that you’ve got copies of all your vital documents. Some of these, such as passports and visas will be carried in the form of paper, while others may be purely digital in nature. There’s always the risk, that you could lose the physical copies of documents or that the device you have everything stored on could go astray. That’s why it’s important to have a range of back-ups. Photograph documents like your passport and driver’s licence and email a copy to yourself. Also make sure you store everything online on site such as Dropbox, which can be accessed from any device. Finally, print off a physical copy of everything which you can carry around with you as a quick proof that the documents in question exist.
Keep muggers at Bay
Generally speaking, London is an extremely safe city, but that doesn’t mean the problem of street criminals such as muggers and pickpockets doesn’t exist. These criminals often target places that are crowded and popular tourist attractions, so you should do your best to blend in and not mark yourself out as a tourist. Try to familiarise yourself with your route before leaving the hostel, so that you don’t have to stand consulting your map in the street. Just in case the worse should happen, carry a ‘spare’ purse or wallet with you, with just a small amount of the local currency in it, while the rest of your money is safely hidden away.
These advices are all extremely useful, but you shouldn’t fall into the trap of over-planning your trip. Acting on a whim is a huge plus point of travelling on your own, and when you stay in London Backpackers budget accommodation you’ll be right in the heart of London, in accommodation where the staff are only too happy to offer advice and point you in the right direction.