A survival guide for solo travel?
I know, it’s a bit over the top but writing about how to travel alone is important now and then. All the basics have been covered on this blog before but there are thousands of new readers every month and the topic needs to be addressed regularly. A survivor guide model that points to lots of other posts seemed like a sensible and helpful idea.
I had a look at the US Army Survival Manual for a framework – but it is way too elaborate. So I have simply worked with their beginning which uses the word SURVIVAL as an acronym to get down the basics.
Here’s my take on the SURVIVAL acronym.
How to Travel Solo – ‘S’ is for…
The following terms for the acronym are taken right from the US Army’s Survival Guide. The interpretation of them are, of course, purely mine from a solo travel perspective.
S – Size Up the Situation
This is a great tip and something that solo traveler needs to do at every stage of a trip from planning to packing, navigating, going out at night and more. Knowing yourself is a big part of this process. You need to size up yourself to decide where to go. And as you travel, you need to size up, in the words from the Army Guide, your “surroundings, physical condition and equipment”. Here are a few posts that will help:
- Best Destinations for Solo Travelers
- What to Do at Night When Traveling Alone – 7 Tips
- Bare Minimum Packing, Bare Minimum Gear and the Gear & Books page.
U – Use All Your Senses
One thing about traveling solo is that you can stop, listen, smell, taste, see… all with intention – without distraction. I remember standing on the citadel in Amman, Jordan and hearing for the first time the Muslim call to prayer as it echoed off the city’s hills. It was mesmerizing. Here are some posts to help you stop, look and experience with all your senses.
- Travel with the Wit of an Adult and the Wonder of a Child
- Travel Solo in Silence… at least some of the time.
- Take Neither Camera Nor Notebook – a very short Sunday Travel Poem
R – Remember Where You Are
To state the obvious, you are not home when you travel. You are on other people’s turf and their rules – legal, social, interpersonal – apply. Recognizing this will keep you safe and make for memorable moments.
- Travel & Culture: Good manners and political perspectives.
- 15 Ways to Be a Good Traveler: solo or otherwise
- Two Powerful Concepts for the “Why” of Travel
V – Vanquish Fear and Panic
Even after all the trips I’ve taken solo I usually find myself feeling awkward the first day. I wonder what I should do and how I’ll navigate the city. Regardless of research, I consider such moments of hesitation natural. They are my moments of fear and while they may or may not be as intense as other people’s, the solution is the same. It is to slow things down. Take a seat on a park bench and watch. Keep things simple. Here are a few posts to help you.
- What You Focus on Will Grow: You can travel solo.
- For Those Afraid of Traveling Alone
- Solo Travel Tips for Newbies
I – Improvise
Maybe you’re a planner. Maybe you’re not. It doesn’t really matter. There will be times when you will have to accept last minute changes, when you will toss plans aside for unexpected opportunities, when it is time to improvise.
- Solo Travel: 42 things I now know.
- Travel Deeper: how to connect with locals
- Paying Forward a Kindness on the Road
V – Value Living
We live only one life so let’s make it a good one. This point is about valuing your life, valuing the privilege you have to travel and valuing the cultures you encounter on your journey.
- No Guilt Solo Travel: 6 thoughts on making yourself a priority
- Zen and the Art of Solo Travel
- Solo Travel and Your Personal Legend
A – Act Like the Natives
Acting like a local, staying at B&Bs rather than chain hotels, enjoying your morning coffee at an independent coffee shop, going out in the evening to local spot… allows you to experience a destination fully. Here are just three posts on Solo Traveler to help you with this.
- Slip into the Scene Solo: Bars, restaurants, festivals…
- Solo Travel Safety: 10 ways to blend in when you can’t. and 10 Tips to Survive Culture Shock
- 8 Ways to Find a Free Local Travel Guide
L – Live by Your Wits, But for Now, Learn Basic Skills
As you travel you may be called upon to live by your wits – to make decisions for unplanned situations – but, for now, learn the basics about solo travel. Here are a few posts with lots of tips. There’s lots more in The Solo Traveler’s Handbook.
- How to Travel Solo: 50+ Tips
- How to Travel Solo: answers to the 5 most common questions
- The Sweet Spot for Solo Travel: the question of “when”.