Tips For Solo Travelers Embarking On A Gap Year Journey
There can be nothing as good as a solo trip abroad, where you can get as crazy as you want to be and none will judge you for any of your actions! It's perhaps something that everybody wants to experience at least for once in life, but not everyone has the guts to set out alone to face the world. If you are a high school student, a recent graduate or someone seeking freedom from the monotonous 9-to-5, setting out on a solo journey will unfold the world in the most beautiful manner and let you experience all the good things that you probably would have missed out, otherwise.
Now that you have finally gathered the courage and decided to set out for the most adventurous trip of your life, here are some tips that will help you during your solo gap year journey.
Know your itinerary properly and enquire about all the details
As you choose your gap year program, it's essential that you go through the itinerary properly and enquire about all the details that you should be knowing. (Our Team would love to answer all your questions, you need not worry!) Having proper information about the places you'll be traveling to, accommodation, transportation, activities etc., will help you to keep your family informed about the journey. This will not only lessen their worries but at the same time you'll feel safe that someone back at home knows where you are.
Pack smart and travel light
Don't pack your entire wardrobe while setting out for your gap year abroad! Remember that in today's date, almost everything is available all across the world, and you can hit a store anytime to pick up the essentials - so, it's better not to make your luggage too heavy to carry! Make a list of things that you should pack, so that it becomes easier for you to keep a track. Research about the weather of the places you'll be traveling to, and pack your clothes and shoes accordingly. In case you have to think twice while packing an item, you can leave it behind because there are high chances that you'll never use it during your trip! In case your doctor has prescribed any medicines, make sure to carry those (considering emergency situations). Split up your cash and credit cards into different spots so that even if you lose one set you still have another to save you.
Keep your travel documents and other belongings safely
When you are traveling solo, you need to be responsible enough to look after yourself and your belongings. Make sure not to lose your important travel documents (especially your passport, visa and insurance papers). It is advisable that you keep multiple photocopies of all the documents, and leave the original ones inside your luggage (which you can lock). If you are going for day trips within the city, there's no need to carry all of it. Also, it's better not to carry expensive things like jewelries and electronics that you might not need! In case you are carrying something pricey, you can inform the GDA coordinator about it, and leave it locked at the accommodation.
Spend less time on your phone and more time knowing the people
We know that you are hooked to SnapChat and dying to share all those amazing photographs on Instagram, but wait... go slow! Try to look elsewhere rather than your phone screen! Since you've traveled all the way to reach your destination, it's better to immerse yourself in the culture and lifestyle of the locals, observe them and know more about them. Go out to explore the crowded places, maybe visit the local market and sit at a cafe, look around, share a smile, say 'Hello' to a stranger and connect to the world which is beautifully different from that of your own.
Say 'Yes' to new adventures!
A gap year is all about saying 'yes' to all that you have wished to do. It's the time you'll cherish forever, so better not to hold yourself back. Being on a solo trip adds to your advantage, as you won't have to consult anyone while planning something, and can do whatever your heart calls for! No matter whether you are on a volunteering trip to India, backpacking across Southeast Asia, experiencing the thrill of wildlife safaris in Kenya or hiking up the Inca Trails in Peru - don't hesitate to stretch yourself and explore everything that the place has to offer you. Let there be no stones unturned, because YOLO!
Know your limits when it comes to alcohol!
Pulling the strings tightly, we would recommend you to know your tolerance levels when it comes to drinking. Of course, you are allowed to go and party hard, experience the nightlife of the city you're in, and make friends out of strangers - but just be a little careful and don't get drunk to lose your senses. Not just for the sake of calling danger closer, but getting drunk will make you messy and nursing the hangover headache is surely not something you'll want to do during your gap year adventure abroad. Hence, count this as an advice and you'll thank us later for this.
Don't hesitate to make friends
Since our childhood, we have been often told that 'Strangers are dangers' - but, now is the time to keep your mind open and unlearn it. During your solo journey, you'll realize that people are innately good and friendly. No matter whether he/she is a local or another solo traveler like you, bonding with strangers will help to broaden your perspective, help you know more about their world, and widen your social network. Over time, you'll start believing the fact that there's nothing called strangers, only friends you haven't yet met! And you never know, you might just find out your best travel mate during your journey.
Learn the necessary phrases in the local language
No, we aren't asking you to master it. But knowing the local language (even in bits and pieces) will help you more than you can ever imagine! The best thing would be to know how to say 'Hello', 'Good morning', 'Thank You', 'Sorry' and a couple of other phrases in the native language, so that you can connect better with the locals and seek help whenever needed. You can also ask a local friend to teach you how to introduce yourself in their language. You need not be fluent in it, but seeing you make an effort will surely delight those people.
Learn to enjoy your own company
A solo trip would give you adequate time to spend with yourself, to know yourself and to find out your strengths and weaknesses. Know that if you don't enjoy your own company, no one else will. It's only when you love to be with yourself, others will enjoy being around you - that's the truth of life. During your solo gap year journey, you'll get ample scope to do things that you love, things that you've always wanted to do, things that scare you, and much more. It would be great if you can take some time out, every day, and maintain a journal to write about your experiences.
Get involved in something meaningful
Your gap year journey will turn out to be more fun filled and exciting if you get associated with something meaningful, like a volunteering project or an internship, or maybe a language course abroad. Most of the millennials opting for a career break choose to volunteer for a cause and contribute effectively towards the underprivileged societies in developing countries. Many others take up internship projects, with the aim to gain first-hand learning experience. In case you are up for something less serious and more exciting, you can learn a new language, or maybe surfing, or scuba diving, or cooking/baking, or salsa! After all, this break will add to your CV/ Resume, making you stand ahead of your peers who don't have a gap year experience!
If you are still wondering where to go or what to do in order to make your gap year more exciting, you can simply drop us a mail at [email protected] and our Travel Advisors will get back to you!