Travel is meant to be all exotic and exciting but sometimes it's really difficult too. How do you get through the lonely times as a solo traveller?
As a frequent solo traveller, I feel well-equipped to answer this question. Travelling alone is actually my favourite way to travel - you can really follow your own whim and you don't have to deal with anyone else's issues. However, there are certainly times I've found myself feeling a bit alone and despondent in a hotel room in a strange city.
My main tip is pretty obvious - talk to people! It's actually a lot easier to meet new people when you're on your own. Rather than holing up in your room, head to the hotel lobby, the kitchen or the bar and strike up a conversation with fellow travellers. You're bound to learn something new and pick up a few tips about the area - plus you might even make a real friend, with whom you can then get in touch when you're in their 'hood.
Dating apps such as Tinder can be a great way to meet locals as well - not necessarily for romance, it's a great way to make friends. Exercise caution, of course - if you're meeting strangers, make sure it's in public and let others know your plans.
Explore as much as possible, wander (as long as it's safe) and people-watch. It's amazing how many more small details you notice when you're not distracted by other people. I enjoy dining alone for this purpose - plus, it's a great opportunity to write, so bring a notebook if you're into keeping a record.
As far as homesickness goes, we're lucky to be living in the 21st century - home is only a keystroke away. Keep in touch with friends and family back home, but don't spend too much of your time online.
Feeling a bit down while travelling is normal, but make sure you've got a plan to deal with it if it lasts longer than a couple of days. If you suffer from mental illness, don't forget to take your medication - it can be easy to let it fall by the wayside while on the road.
Overall: Try to maintain a positive attitude, keep yourself busy, don't be afraid to make friends and enjoy the many pleasures of travelling alone.
Here are the last of our Vietnam tips:
Julie and Murray recommend dressing for the climate "wear light clothing, cotton is best, light dresses or shorts for women, very casual" - which I can also back up, you can never have enough quick-dry clothing over there.
They also recommended getting clothes made in Hoi An, as did Jan Marie, who recommends Yaly. "If you or a friend have a favourite shirt, jacket or other clothes, and you have room in your sparingly packed suitcase, throw the shirt in your bag so that when you get to Hoi An you can drop in to one of the many tailors to order three copies, which will be ready for you to pick up or have delivered the next day. It's a real treat having clothes tailor-made to order. Yaly is a popular, efficient and quality tailor among many."
I did go to Yaly in the end and came back to New Zealand with a suit and four shirts that fit perfectly - highly recommended!
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