Why don’t more people travel alone?
I never thought of it as being especially brave. I enjoyed being able to choose my destination each day and push myself along into meeting people, trying new things and just plain getting out there and discovering new things every day.
It’s probably easier for younger people, those who don’t stop to think about what might happen. Most of the time, all those worries are based on very little real information. Seldom did any of those worries ever become fact.
Getting lost is something I don’t even count as a problem. It’s when you do get lost that you find something really wonderful. It may be a tourist thing, a new restaurant, an attraction or an event. Sometimes the thing you discover is yourself, your own resilience, ingenuity and ability to adapt and change.
Get out there, get involved and find your way around – those are the keys I have found to living or travelling in a new place, town or city.
Getting Started by Getting Out There
The number one thing to do in a new town or city is NOT staying indoors, shut away and safe. Jump in and join in. The purpose of travel is to see new things, meet new people and broaden your horizons. Also, to enjoy yourself and relax. But, if you just stay safe inside a hotel or a safe little area you could just have stayed home and saved your money.
Start slow and build your way up, feel your way around. I often went out for breakfast somewhere. Look for a local place rather than going for a chain restaurant just like the chain restaurant you see in your own city or town. Talk to the waitress or waiter, whoever takes your order and serves the meal. Make conversation by asking them about the town, what do they recommend?
You don’t have to take any suggestions, unless something does perk your interest. The point is to find out what local people think would be good to see. Often the local people have never explored the tourist elements themselves, they just know there is a local museum or art gallery but have never taken the time to see it. Locals tend to take their own town for granted that way. If you think about it, you like do the same in your own town.
Get Involved with the Local Community
Check for event listings in the local newspaper. See how many events and group meetings (clubs and societies) you can find and attend.
Go to local shops, stores and restaurants rather than big, well-known stores and retail chains. Local places will have local people and know more about local things you can do and get involved with.
Local places will also sometimes have flyers, business cards and other media which will help you find more local things to get involved with.
Navigation in a New Place
Get local maps and learn the roads. When you plan to go somewhere study the route so you will begin to understand the streets and be able to navigate around without needing a map eventually.
Know the local transit system. Know how much bus fare costs and the general route.
Keep the phone number for the local taxi service in cause you wander too far and don’t like where you end up. You don’t even need a ride all the way back, just get dropped off somewhere you would rather be.
Don’t Fear for Your Life
Don’t be afraid to wander around on your own. Even in the “big city” you don’t have to be intimidated or afraid. Too often I hear people from smaller towns claim bigger towns and cities are dangerous, so much crime, so many guns and robberies… Of course there are more crimes in an area with more people to create them. This does not mean you are not safe.
There are more areas more places as well as more people. Actually, having lived in both big cities, small cities, small towns, villages and one town too small to have more than one traffic light – I can say you are equally safe in any of those places.
Of course, there are precautions you can take, things not to do and situations to avoid. This is regardless of your location – village, town or city.
Don’t become an easy target. Going out drinking and then stumbling around drunk is not the smartest plan. Being an ignorant loud-mouth is bound to make you less friends and give people a reason to feel resentment and anger towards you. So, mind your manners.
When you go out, have a plan. Know where you are going. Have a plan for getting there and back. This way you won’t be vulnerable if something happens and you need to leave or get back to an area you know better. Also, people who walk as if they have a purpose and a planned destination are less likely to be approached.
If people tell you are area is not good for whatever reasons, avoid that area. You can be in a small town and discover an area which is run down and usually badly kept with people who don’t have much and may be risky. This is not just a big city thing.
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