Exploring on your own is one of the most empowering and character-building choices a person can make. I’ve adventured on my own through two continents, many countries, innumerable US states, and a few Oregon rivers. Although I’ve experienced occasional anguish, complications, or loneliness, the rewards far outweighed the difficulties. Here’s a rundown of my solo trips, special arrangements I made for independent travel, and essential safety measures allowing for unforgettable adventures.
Thailand and Cambodia are the perfect places to travel alone. Situated in the South China Sea and the nook of the Gulf of Thailand, these countries are easy to hop between. I recommend flights rather than ground border crossings as the latter can be menacing on your own. As a solo traveler, the islands of Ko Tao, Koa Pha Ngan, and Koh Samui are outstanding for touring. Beware of looking like a wealthy traveling tourist. Dress down a little. Keep your money and credit cards in a waist wallet with RFID pickpocketing technology concealed under your clothing. I found that traveling out of a 35L backpack was the safest way to monitor my belongings.
Australia and New Zealand
The best way to connect to the community you’re exploring and plug into a social network is to work or volunteer while on an extended stay trip. For solo stays in Australia and New Zealand, grab a working holiday visa which allows a 1-year stay. You could also choose a visitor’s visa for a three-month stay. Visas are relatively easy to obtain but get them as soon as possible once you lock in your travel plans. A passport is critical for international travel. When traveling solo, sharing copies of your passport with a friend or loved one is even more important. Emergency contacts can provide paper copies to embassies and other entities if your documents are lost overseas.
US Road Trips
Many of us have road tripped all our lives. There are some easy practices you can put into play to stay safe while driving solo. First, fully understand your insurance and pay extra for roadside assistance. Back that up with a subscription to AAA. Second, keep all necessary documents like registration and insurance information in your glove compartment. Finally, consider purchasing an iPhone over other brands, as the most recent model has a satellite and SOS feature, allowing the owner to send emergency signals in worst-case scenarios when cell service isn’t accessible.
I’ve solo paddled a few rivers on multi-day journeys. The Deschutes River (40 miles) by raft and the wild and scenic John Day River by paddleboard (70 miles). Kids, don’t try this at home; it takes specialized knowledge and experience to tackle a solo whitewater trip of this magnitude. If you want to experience this excursion, find a reputable guide to lead the way. Traveling solo doesn’t mean traveling alone. It’s still your solo trip, even with the help of an expert.
So, take a chance on solo trips, and remember, for any independent outdoor adventure like backpacking, hiking, or mountain biking, be sure to let someone know where you are going and when you will be back. This way, they can alert the authorities if you aren’t back by the rendezvous time. This is an essential rule for all solo trips, whether wilderness based or not.