Daniel Brown shares five of his best tips for the adventurous lone traveller. If you’re heading off on a solo journey soon, read on. Here we cover trip planning, keeping your important documents and valuables safe, battery power and tech, dining solo and more…
Even though the trend of solo travelling is becoming more popular, it is agreeable that venturing alone without a companion is daunting. Luckily, there are clever tricks anyone yearning to be a lone traveller can make use of to feel more comfortable along the way.
I believe everyone can benefit from trying on the ‘lone traveller’ hat at some point in life.
Many swear that travelling solo can be likened to experiencing religious enlightenment!
Not only are you able to fully rely on your own judgements and ideas, but as a lone traveller, you can do whatever you please all throughout your journey.
A pretty liberating thought!
Of course, with all the freedoms of being a lone traveller, come the drawbacks. Some of these, concern safety and overall wellbeing.
To make things easier, following are my practical tips which will empower you to book your solo trip.
You might also enjoy our feature in Get it Magazine on how to choose your own solo adventure, including interviews with two of our fave bloggers. Read it here
The very first tip after you have decided to venture out solo, is to remember to take some time and extra effort to plan the whole trip as thoroughly as possible.
Spontaneous travel is great, but when a co-pilot is not there to help you out, you will want to have a plan to fall back on.
Make a list of all the must-have items you cannot travel without. But remember, you’ll need to pack light. Heavy bags and luggage will slow you down, and it may be uncomfortable to carry extra through a crowded airport or bus station.
Next, double check the bookings, such as the taxi, the means of transportation and accommodation.
Something I was taught is to try and memorise maps as accurately as possible. It’s helpful so you don’t have to be reading a map in public (potentially looking lost), or if Google Maps fails, as sometimes it does.
Plan, book, and get ready for the time of your life. You inevitably make friends, whether you’re heading off on long term travel, a wellbeing retreat or city tours.
Make copies of your documents
The most important thing you should bring with you when travelling is a case which contains all your personal documents. These will include your passport and photo ID. It is certain that there is nothing as stressful as getting your documents lost or stolen.
To make sure that your most important documents are safe and easily accessible, it is recommended to scan them before leaving home. The best way to do this is to make copies and store them online, for example, in Dropbox. Make sure your connections are safe though. In another article we talk about using a VPN to make sure your privacy is protected when travelling, surfing the web and accessing personal files.
If you know where document back-ups are, you can rest assured that in the worst-case, there is a quick solution to save the day.
It’s important to invest in quality equipment to keep you connected and safe on your journey. Don’t forget local power adaptors for the places your’e visiting, a portable WiFi hub can be helpful, and back-up battery power is essential.
A new favourite of ours is the slim and sleek Zippo HeatBank that doubles as a hand warmer in cold weather. Pretty neat, and lasts for ages (choose three or six hour packs).
Keep your valuables safe
Another common fear when travelling alone is getting your belongings stolen. No one can fully relax and enjoy time swimming, for example, without letting go of the fear that a stranger will slip away with your personal possessions.
You could carry with you quality waterproof containers that can go into water. These double as food containers when you’re travelling and saving on buying out all the time. Alternatively, you can leave your money and valuables in the hotel room, but use a safety deposit box if possible.
With hotels, it is important to take extra precautions. It is not uncommon for things to be lost even when they are in the drawers, seemingly safe. A smart tip to ward off thieves from your room is to hang up a “do not disturb” sign after leaving your room.
Coming to London? You might be interested in the chic but great value Point A Hotel in Shoreditch. Take a look at our review
Also, by leaving the television turned on, anyone is able to trick potential thieves into thinking that you have not left in the first place.
The best bet to keep your money and fancy jewellery safe is to only carry enough money with you for food, taxi, accommodation and tours. Leave all the luxurious bling-bling behind.
As a matter of fact, it is best to not put on fancy necklaces, rings and earrings. Don’t attract unnecessary attention – better safe than sorry.
Do not be afraid of solo dining
Many people are anxious to dine alone. It’s common to feel like sitting solo in a restaurant makes you seem desperate or ‘sad’. But, it’s not uncommon to witness people sitting by themselves, enjoying a coffee or a meal and reading a book.
So, let go of the irrational fear and embrace solo dining! If it is too uncomfortable to go to a fancy dinner, consider a smaller coffee place or coworking cafe and opt for a counter seat or a seat at the bar.
To keep yourself occupied, take some reading materials with you or maybe a laptop to do some research about the local must-see things.
All in all, travelling alone can be a truly empowering and a unique experience. At the end of your trip, you will certainly feel like a changed person full of new experiences and interesting stories.
We’d love to hear your stories and tips – drop us a line in the comments below.
Guest post by Daniel Brown, image by Levi Bare
2019 is the year we truly start to take care of ourselves on our time off, which is why creative travel and wellness holidays are the thing of ‘now’ in the travel industry.
Once upon a time, a vacation meant drinks, lots of food, tours and shopping. But many of us are tiring a little, even on our trips.
Recently, there’s been a shift in the reasons many of us choose to get away – we want to switch off from the pressures of modern-day life.
Why creative travel and wellness holidays?
The new kind of break, the one that will continue to rise as one of the most sought-after in 2019, is the ‘wellness escape’. It’s an enriching life experience – a creative travel or wellness holiday – where we return home feeling great about ourselves.
Wellness has become a booming industry, evidenced by the fact Lonely Planet has just published a gorgeous hard-cover guide on the topic, Wellness Escapes.
Get creative booking your travel this year
The publication presents an inspiring breadth of offerings around the globe.
- Yoga retreats (we’ve published a story about a retreat in Turkey if you’re interested)
- Fitness and wellness festivals around the world
- Creativity workshops and personal growth opportunities
- Health spas and nutrition getaways
Akin to other collectable Lonely Planet guides like Culture Trails and Everyday Adventures (released in 2018, be inspired by those titles here), Wellness Escapes is an item any wanderluster will want on the coffee table.
Wellness Escapes features a worldwide guide on the best, coolest and most energising creative travel, wellness holidays, meditation centres, health spas, fitness events (including LoveFit in the UK) and much more.
It’s a whole lot of love in one delicious book. Be inspired, get creative and healthy now.
Inspired creative travel trends and holiday tips
For more on wellness trends and creative travel of 2019, have a read of my feature on the topic published in the January issue of Get it Magazine.
I love January! I think I like it more than Christmastime, although both come with their own set of rituals, demands and expectations. It’s important to remember that we can make a fresh start any time, which I’ll cover here, but as it’s the New Year…
Every day is a fresh start, but 1 January is extra special
For some reason, New Year has always served as my reset point; my joy-and-motivation initiator – my reminder that every day is a fresh start. Certainly, that may be cliché, but I’m sure others see it the same way.
I also know I’m not alone in scrapping the whole ‘resolutions’ and ‘goal setting’ business. January 1 is a holiday, my uncle Doug and cousin Liz’s birthdays. The only pressure I want to experience is the cork popping out of a bottle of bubbly!
How to do January (or any time, for that matter) stress-free but with maximum impact then?
I’ve been practising for a few years and have simplified my start-fresh ritual.
Here’s what I’ve learnt:
A book, that is. I’ve spotted a pattern throughout my year – when I’m perpetually emailing or mindlessly scrolling Facebook each evening, I’m less happy than the times I’m engaged in a good read. I’m more of a non-fiction gal myself, but it doesn’t matter what your preference is. Find time to read. It’s too easy to fall out of the habit of reading books, but the practice has proven health benefits including improved memory and reduced stress.
Tip: Not sure where to start? Ask for recommendations on Facebook or talk to friends. Take it one step further and join a book club this year (there are countless options, both on and offline).
We are blessed with thousands of free interesting, inspiring and motivating resources at our fingertips. If you’re short on time, try the Blinkist app that summarises popular books into 15-minute sessions; or start a routine of listening to a Podcast once a week. Breathe and Calm are fabulous apps that will get even the most resistant amongst you into healthy meditation and mindfulness habits. The most accessible of course, is YouTube, with more hours of content than we can consume in four lifetimes. Much of it is even very good!
Tip: Sign-in to YouTube with your own unique account, so you can personalise your experience.
Make this the year you engage a coach or mentor. Since I opened up to this, my life has changed. I used to think I had to do it all on my own, but now I know for sure that surrounding myself with guides is wise.
To clarify, I see a ‘mentor’ as someone to look up to; whose footsteps I’d like to follow in, and who shares helpful advice. A coach, is usually someone who talks you through questions that help you come to a conclusion or solution that’s right for you.
Tip: Don’t worry if you’re not sure who these people might be in your life. If you’re on the lookout for a mentor, you’ll know when they appear. Or try Google – coaching is big business now.
Lean on gratitude as a tool moving into the New Year. Set an intention to consistently recall the things you’re grateful for. By giving energy to the good, you’ll attract more of it.
Tip: Start a habit of writing down five things you’re grateful for each morning and watch what happens.
Pick a tool, any tool – pen and paper, or an app like Evernote. Write down the things you want. It’s that easy. Think big; limitless. The power of putting it on paper is renowned, and for good reason. Many of us have seen the things we write down come true.
Tip: Don’t be too manipulative or specific. Instead, write down how you want to feel. For example, ‘I want to feel respected and be abundantly compensated for doing what I love’. Often what you ‘want’ comes in a form that you hadn’t imagined, so be open to the possibilities.
How do you see it? Let us know in the comments about your New Year’s rituals that work.
It began with something called a ‘happy planner’ that promised to keep me on track with my life goals list. The year, that is – I started off so well, planning ahead in my bright yellow hard-covered book that’s trimmed with gold and artistically decorated with beautiful landscape photography.
All my goals, neatly listed, poised for New Year’s success. Maybe you relate?
The un-happiness of a life goals list
I spent time working through my planner’s activities which included noting intentions, and rating my happiness in various areas of life with a view to taking action on anything that felt lacking. On a glance back, I see I also filled in the ‘reverse bucketlist’ pages, where instead of writing down all the things I wish to achieve, I listed those things I was already proud of accomplishing (a very nice activity, if you need a boost today).
While I did initially make the most of my ‘happy planner’, it has actually been sitting on top of a pile of half-read books since May!
The bright yellow HAPPY cover serves as a reminder each morning of the possibilities ahead. But in the evenings, it came to prompt panic over all I’d intended to do but not yet acted upon.
According to the internet, this is now a thing – ‘FOMOMG’ (fear of missing out [on] my goals).
What on earth is FOMOMG?
What to do then, if we feel like we’re not where we intended to be now? That is, if we haven’t saved the money we wanted to, got the job, bought the house, discovered the romance, finished (or started) a project we’d hoped to have in hand.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and like we’re missing out, and some might agree it’s especially so at this time of year. Keen to not fall victim to this so-called FOMOMG, I resolved to lessen the pressure I admitted placing on myself.
Types of goal setting, not goal-setting or indeed not giving a f*ck!
I’ve been reading some of Sarah Knight’s work – she’s the author of the No F*cks Given guides and presenter of a TED talk on the ‘magic of not giving a f*ck’ that’s reached over four million people. Clearly, many are curious to know if it’s ok to shed our excess ‘stuff’, and Sarah’s now famous for spreading the word on how to let go of things you really don’t need to care about.
Akin to decluttering your home, we’re encouraged to do the same with our minds. You can start this today by writing down a list of all the things that are taking up space in your head, then carefully considering which items you don’t need to care about. Really. For example, are you worrying that you’re not as caught up in your career as your friends are (well apparently, according to Instagram)? Let it go. It’s likely to work out the moment you begin to clean up your thoughts and focus on the things that truly matter.
Life goals to set for yourself: choose wonder not worry
I’ve also been dipping into Amber Rae’s Choose Wonder over Worry (another one stashed in my bedside pile of books). She helpfully points out that it’s not the things we don’t care about that are hard to let go of, but it’s letting go of all those things we DO want to achieve, plan for or create, that is so hard. To choose ‘wonder over worry’, means doing just that – letting some of the stress and pressure go, and focussing on the thing that is the most important to you.
Looking ahead, it’s time for me – and you, perhaps – to find joy in the moment. Embrace, don’t stress, over your dreams and goals.
Make time for a festive break; consider the good in your world, and your achievements; play with your kids or pets; focus on ONE thing you’re looking forward to pursuing next year. Let go of the clutter and embrace with me the understanding that setting goals is one thing, but realising those goals can change is the real key to happiness.
How do you see it – do you set goals anymore, or focus on intentions? I’d love to know – please drop me a line in the comments.
First published in the December 2018 issue of Get it Magazine, getit-magazine.com.au
Late last year I picked up on something I might need to address, a behaviour that didn’t impress me; I wondered what it would take to do everything without complaining or gossiping? My life would surely be less complicated. I’ll admit, it proved harder than I thought, but my diary on my week without bitching unravelled as follows.
How to do everything without complaining or b!tching: let’s do this!
It happened during lunch a few weeks ago – I was catching up with a group of friends, and typically, not too far into the time we were together, I noticed us all descend into negative chit chat. I could hear the words spilling out of my own mouth and knew I should rein it in, but I was on a roll.
I bid farewell to my mates and headed off to finish work for the afternoon, but something didn’t sit right following the interaction. It dawned on me that with some groups of people, I had fallen into negative patterns. We all need to let off steam now and again, and let’s face it, sometimes we face situations that provoke even the most patient among us. Still, I felt a bad habit brewing, enabled and worsened by certain people and conditions, but also creeping into home life, WhatsApp chats and coffee dates with colleagues. Chronic complainers – we all know them, and that is not who I want to be.
Breaking a b!itch of a habit
They say 21 days is what it takes to form a new habit. I decided to compromise and swore off b!tch!ng for one working week.
I declared my intention to my partner Cooper, and at 9am the next day to Lisa, the first work-pal I saw.
‘No negative talk for a week!’ I shared. She smiled sweetly and encouraged me to pursue it. ‘Excellent!’. Within half an hour we were discussing how irritating Riverdale is and how we’re shocked it scores so many television award nominations. b!tch b!tch b!tch.
Oops. (sorry Riverdale fans… but honestly!)
Onwards, it’s never too late to start fresh. I made it to 3pm determined to stay sensible during a meeting I was set to have with a project group I’m part of. All good, until one of the team made a dramatic entrance announcing he had gossip. I love gossip! And I failed on day one.
Four days to go, and in my diary was a meeting with a fabulous friend of mine, Tina. We often collaborate, and the reality of our ‘one hour’ slots is 45 minutes gossip, 15 minutes work (we are very efficient).
There was giggling, joking and b!tch!ng. As we entered our 35th minute, I told her that I was trying to drop my negative habit and feeling better about myself, I talked us up towards positive perspectives.
Wednesday: mid-point hump day, tough. Instead of engaging with my known triggers, I intentionally surrounded myself with optimistic affirmations and kept an eye on @thedogist Instagram Stories to maintain high spirits. If you’re not familiar with The Dogist, go on – thank me later.
Chronic complaining can be broken by mindful action
By Thursday I found I was catching myself in the act, but still making excuses for my bad behaviour. Two of my favourite people tried to explain that there is a difference between ‘b!tch!ing’ and ‘updating’, particularly if one of them has been away and missed out on ‘news’. I’m not sure it works like that, but we were being mindful of our words and actions, and that’s progress.
As the sun rose on FriYay, I wondered if I should test the rubber-band-on-wrist strategy, to be snapped as a reminder if I caught myself mid-naughty habit; but I granted myself a reprieve. I realised the experiment had been successful – pain free, even – because while I completely failed on the no-gossip, no-b!tch!ng front, I was now fully aware of the behaviour I am changing for the better.
This is good, because I much prefer the girl who contributes knowledge, kindness and wisdom to conversations. If not those things, good cheer, at least. I can’t say that you won’t find me moaning about certain television shows (don’t get me started on Love Island), but nobody’s perfect.
Have you caught yourself in the act – what are your tips on not being the compulsive complainer in your social circles? Let me know in the comments.
First published in the November 2018 issue of Get it Magazine, getit-magazine.com.au
Wild wind howled through the auburn autumnal leaves and across the rolling green hills on either side of the secluded, narrow road that we carefully tread along, excitedly pursuing filming locations for Outlander…
My brother Josh, happened to be my travel companion this past October, and we both remained quietly stunned by the scenery at each turn: thick woodlands spilling into pretty streams, centuries-old wooden bridges and an odd few sheep tenderly grazing under patchy grey skies.
Filming locations for Outlander
It felt like an adventure, and that’s because it was!
An unplanned trip through time somewhere outside of Inverness, the capital of the Scottish Highlands.
Rewind an hour, and we were sitting on a local bus which for just a few dollars was ferrying us around the area from Inverness to famous Loch Ness, its castles and ruins.
We were on our way to Culloden Battlefield, a vast windswept moor that preserves stories of the Jacobite rising that came to an entirely tragic end here on 16 April 1746.
History buffs, fans of Scotland and indeed those of a seductively popular television series called Outlander will be familiar with the locations.
Josh and I were discussing our day’s plan when a sweet woman turned around in her seat to chat to us. She asked where we were from, because she recognised our accents and said she had family dotted around Australia.
As it happens, in her 70 years young she’s done a lot of travelling and had some great tips to share, one being for us to get off the beaten track about 30-minutes’ walk from Culloden, to seek an ancient burial ground called Clava Cairns.
Clava Cairns and Outlander film locations
I’m one of those Outlander fans eagerly awaiting the return to telly this month of time-travellers Jamie and Claire Fraser.
Scotland now offers plenty of ‘Outlander travel experiences’ that attract thousands of enthusiasts seeking the filming locations for Outlander, and Clava Cairns happens to be an integral part of this.
While ‘Craigh na Dun’, the mysterious stone circle where Claire falls through time in Scotland to the 1700s in the books and television series does not actually exist, Clava Cairns is understood to be author Diana Gabaldon’s inspiration for the spot.
So, willing to walk – because Josh and I have always been into the mystical, mythological and downright creepy (our parents are very proud) – we went in search of this millennia-old site.
Scotland offers visitors unparalleled landscapes, legends and folklore, and even our first glimpse of Clava Cairns’ ruins didn’t disappoint.
These exceptional 4000-year-old remains of an ancient cemetery are set on a terrace above the River Nairn, and an appropriately atmospheric breeze washed dust and leaves through the ghostly site as we pushed open a rickety fence and made our way inside.
Historical sites of Scotland
There are four cairns (the word ‘cairn’ hailing from the Scottish Gaelic, càrn, meaning a human-made stack of stones) and three standing stone circles here. The three prominent cairns form lines aligned with the sun solstices and show hints of forgotten beliefs carved into the stones.
Our friendly local guide on the bus had shared stories of how she and her friend experienced extreme emotions and rushes of energy on touching some of the larger stones in the circles.
Josh and I can attest to feeling what can only be described as a very heavy sensation within one of the open-air stone tombs, and admittedly I felt like it wouldn’t be right to take photos inside.
A strange tale I’ve read since, is that of a Belgian tourist who claimed to have been cursed after taking a stone away from Clava Cairns. He and his family swiftly encountered such terrible luck including job losses, accidents and ill health, that the disturbed visitor anonymously posted the ‘souvenir’ back to the Inverness tourist centre and requested it be returned to the site.
Superstitious or not, this excellent adventure provides an off-road glimpse into the true heart of the Highlands, a rugged, romantic destination where you may very well be standing in 2018; or is it 1743? Just be careful what you touch or wish for.
First published in Get it Magazine, November 2018, getit-magazine.com.au