It can be daunting travelling alone. (It can be daunting travelling at all!) Going at it as part of a group does make it easier. However, there is still ice to break and barriers to bulldoze. I have come up with 10 tips that I feel will come in handy to help you make the most of your group travel as a solo traveller around Southeast Asia.
- Smile 🙂
Smiling is simple, yet important. It says “I am friendly” and “I am open.” It makes you approachable and gives a pretty clear indication that you would like to make friends. Smiling is also infectious!
- Choose the dorms
Dorms are where you meet most of your friends. If you opt for privacy, you could involuntarily remain that way, private. If dorms aren’t optional, buddy up for twin rooms.
- Use your words
Strike up conversations because everyone is in the same boat here. Even non-solo travellers get the most out of their experiences meeting new people.
- Get used to reciting your story
You will repeat it a thousand times over. New people will hop on and hop off all the time, as well as you. This conversation can get old, but don’t make it seem that way. Be enthusiastic – enthusiasm is also infectious!
- Embrace the culture
Eat the food, drink the drinks. These leisurely activities will not only allow you to bond with your fellow group mates, but also to enjoy traditions of the places you visit. Also, be respectful of these cultures; cover up at temples, take your shoes off where required. Make and leave a good impression.
- Do your research
I understand that half the fun of these tours is not having to organise anything yourself. However, you can do a little digging into the places you will visit, have an idea of where you would like to stay longer, what activities you know are on offer – most beautiful beaches, most fascinating temples, etc. It is your responsibility to go home without regrets. You can also pass some of this useful information onto others. You know never, they might choose to hop off with you!
- On the other hand, be flexible!
Somewhat contradictory to that last point, but you might meet someone you get along with awesomely well who wishes to stay somewhere a few days longer. Be flexible enough to say, “I’ll stay too.” One of the most exhausting things about travelling can be saying goodbye to amazing people.
- Don’t be afraid to confide in others
Travelling is difficult. Amazing, but difficult. If you find yourself struggling, use the shoulders and ears of your group. They understand. For those tough times, empathy is close at hand so utilize it.
- Learn to barter
Southeast Asia is all about the bartering! It can become annoying to do it all of the time – depending on how much you shop. So you may find yourself just giving in. Because, well let’s be fair, even the price they give will always be great for where you’re from. But know that you can always get them down, have a little fun with it, and chase those bargains.
- Find yourself
This one is pretty involuntary. Travelling opens your eyes to new experience, opportunity, opinions, feelings, and desires. Be open to them. Embrace the person you find along the way. Allow travelling to bring out the best in you!
I hope you will find these tips or even just some of them useful along the way. Southeast Asia is an extraordinary place, and I have no doubt that you will enjoy it!
Guest writer Clare Caddick from the UK recently spent a couple months travelling solo around Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam on Stray Asia’s Lot Pass. She loves nature and believes there is no such thing as fear in adventure!