This article originally appeared in the Independent SA.
As the popular saying goes: "In the School of Life, travel is the best teacher".
Some of the world's more seasoned travelers have also said that the best way to challenge yourself and see the world while you're at it; travel solo. While all of this sounds great on paper, practically, it may not work out this way.
The world can be a very dangerous place, especially if you're in another country, know no one there, cannot speak the language and find yourself in an emergency, this can be a harrowing experience. This is why every traveler must take the necessary precautions and prepare properly.
Youth oriented travel agency "Contiki" specialises in curating experiences across various parts of the world. According to Kelly Jackson, general manager for Contiki, a lot goes into ensuring that the trips are safe even for young people that come alone, but want the experience.
"The safety of our guests is always comes first. Being part of The Travel Corporation family of brands, and being a family-owned business, means that we operate with a ‘family first’ mentality. Just as you would go above and beyond for your nearest and dearest, doing anything to ensure their safety and happiness, that’s how we feel about our travellers.
"Sometimes incidents that occur that cannot be planned for. In 2016, the Calais ferry strikes meant that hundreds of Contiki travellers were unable to get either to Paris, or back to London. Yet whilst other companies left their travellers stranded, we don’t work like that" Jackson said.
For young solo travellers, Jackson had the following tips:
- Always let your friends or family know your trip plans. At Contiki we provide our travellers with a duplicate list of hotels for this reason. Parents and friends can contact the hotels at any time to stay in touch.
- There are Pickpockets everywhere. Pick pocketing and theft happen in every country around the world so just be sensible about this. People are naturally security conscious so don’t let this habit lapse when you’re travelling. Keep locks on your luggage and don’t carry too much cash on you (or your passport) when you’re out sightseeing.
- Know how to contact local authorities in case of an emergency, and have the means at your disposal to contact them. Get yourself a local SIM card and stay in touch.
Jessica Clarke brand manager of Busabout, an alternative travel company said it is important to keep alert when traveling.
“Never let your usual sensibilities desert you. Keep your guard up in public places, be aware of pick pockets, know how to contact the Embassy, let family have a copy of your itinerary and be contactable – even if it’s only on Facebook,” Clarke said.
Here's to your next solo trip. And always remember: SAFETY FIRST.