Surviving the highs and lows of solo travel

With solo travel on the rise and more and more Aussies jumping on a plane overseas, we asked Craig Morrison, CEO of Southern Cross Travel Insurance to run through his top tips for successfully travelling the globe alone. Here’s his advice:

While travelling alone can be one of the most empowering experiences you’ll ever have, it’s also likely to be one of the most challenging. When we conducted some research recently we found that although most trips run smoothly, travel doesn’t always go according to plan.

  • More than half (60%) of Aussie travellers have been exposed to petty crime and scams whilst overseas.
  • Nearly a quarter (22%) of Aussie travellers have fallen unwell and a further 7% have been injured.
  • More than a third (37%) of Aussie travellers have experienced flight delays and cancellations whilst on holiday.

A dreaded flight delay or unexpected illness is likely to quash anyone’s holiday spirit, and can be even trickier to deal with when you’re on your own.

So from packing tips to knowing what to do if things go wrong, we’ve pulled together a checklist so you can have a safe, care-free, solo adventure:

1. Know before you go 

Read up on the destination you are travelling to so you’re aware of the potential risks. The government's Smartraveller website has all the latest travel warnings, as well as advice on where to get help in the event of an emergency. Some of the most common claims Southern Cross Travel Insurance sees from solo travellers include theft, pickpocketing and muggings.

2. Do your research 

Untrustworthy vendors are another pitfall for solo travellers. Researching recommended accommodation and reputable tours before you go will mean you don’t get any nasty surprises. The review site TripAdvisor provides honest reviews from fellow travellers and is well worth checking before you book your hotel or excursion.

3. Pack wisely 

When it comes to packing for solo travel, less is definitely more. Reduce the worry of having to safeguard your belongings by carrying just one bag and leaving the valuables back in Australia. Expensive items may attract the watchful eye of thieves, particularly if you’re alone.

4. Learn the local way 

Arriving in a new country alone can leave you stressed and craving home comforts. Have a plan of how you will get to your accommodation from the airport once you land. You’re at your most vulnerable when you have arrived in a foreign place, flustered and laden down with luggage. Before you go, familiarise yourself with the local currency and learn some basic local phrases so you can start your holiday as soon as you step off the plane.

5. Keep in contact 

Wherever you are in the world, remember friends and family are only a phone call away. Keep them in the loop by updating them on social media, text message, phone or video chat, and make sure they have copies of all your important documentation, including your passport, itinerary and the name of where you are staying. In addition, you can also register your details and travel plans on the government's Smartraveller website.

6. Stay healthy 

A little bit of planning can go a long way to making sure you stay healthy on holiday. Carry a basic first aid kit and find out what vaccinations you will need well in advance of travel. If you do fall unwell or have an accident whilst travelling alone overseas, Southern Cross Travel Insurance offers a 24/7 emergency assistance phone line.

7. Take us with you 

Buy a travel insurance policy as soon as you book your flights or accommodation so you can travel with peace of mind, knowing that if things don’t go quite as you planned, you’ll be covered for any unexpected events.

*Research was conducted by TNS on behalf of Southern Cross Travel Insurance on a sample of over 1,000 Australians nationwide.