Maybe you’ve been sent away on a business trip without your family. Maybe you’ve dreamed about traveling solo but have been afraid to try it out. Having recently returned from a trip to the Persian Gulf, an area totally new to me, I honed in on 8 key tips for solo travelers. Please let me know what I’ve left out!
Tip 1. Do what you want. There are some destinations where you might feel pressured to ‘tick off’ a sight or an experience. “What, you went all the way to Paris and didn’t see the Mona Lisa?” Agree graciously and ignore.
Tip 2. Keep your opinions to yourself. Listen. Look. Absorb. Sometimes your opinion about a place only ‘settles’ many weeks after you’ve returned. So make a mental note of your first impressions, but don’t always trust your initial instincts.
Tip 3. Dip in and out of your comfort zone. If you hate haggling, still force yourself to the souq and try to get a good bargain on some dates. Then reward yourself by finding a Starbucks and buying your regular flat white. Go easy on yourself.
Tip 4. Don’t just watch the international news channels in your hotel room. Flick through some of the local channels. It might also help to remind you that your international colleagues have been speaking with you in a second language. Bask in some good old humility and confusion.
Tip 5. Wear layered, inconspicuous clothing. Change out of your business clothes and leave all your emerald tiaras in the hotel safe.
Tip 6. Eat. Everything.
Tip 7. Take to the city on foot. Walk down main streets. Sometimes walk down quieter parallel streets. Use common sense with safety. And look both ways when crossing streets, even if it’s supposed to be one-way.
Tip 8. Wear headphones when necessary. If you’re nervous in new environments, headphones create a personal barrier which can add an element of ‘unapproachability’ in confronting surroundings. But use this strategy sparingly, you don’t want to comes across as arrogant or hostile.
Abu Dhabi, UAE: