by anne B.
Happy Spring Break time, Ramblers!
I hope you all had a great Spring Break or will have an amazing Spring Break! Since many people take this time off to travel, I figured I would give some tips for traveling alone as well as some tips for spending the least amount of money as possible if you are on a tight budget!
Subscribe to Travel Deals
I know you’ve heard of travel deal websites like Kayak, Expedia and so on. For anyone who watches TV, it’s practically impossible to miss those commercials! Although I do think it is good to subscribe to their email list so you can see what travel deals are available, I also think you should subscribe to smaller websites that aren’t as known. This will increase your chance of getting a good deal and not having all the tickets sold out by the time you actually look at the email.
If you’re in the Montréal area, a great website for travel deals is Les Vols D'Alexi! This works differently than the other travel websites because you don’t search for flights, Alexi does. Whenever there are really good deals on flights leaving from Montréal (and soon Ottawa), Alexi sends out an email letting you know about the deal and all the dates that work with the reduced price. For instance, I got an email in January with a deal for Montréal - Dublin, Ireland for only $400! That is pretty amazing as the price is usually $700 or more. The price reduction was only for dates in February and March, but if you’re a spontaneous traveler, then that isn’t a problem. Alexi usually sends emails once a week and the dates for the travel deal really depend on the location.
Now, Les Vols D’Alexi is just for the Montréal and Ottawa areas, but I am sure there are similar websites for other areas. Just do a little bit of Google searching! Also, remember to always clear your browsing history or go into incognito mode when you are looking for flights and aren’t planning on buying it then. This is to avoid getting the prices jacked up the next time you look up your flight to buy it!
Go to Hostels or Share an Airbnb
Yes, yes, I know - Stranger Danger! I know hostels and sharing rooms/ apartments when you’re traveling alone can be scary, but this is good for your wallet and your traveling experience! This is a much cheaper option than going to the hotel! This also allows you to meet other travelers like yourself, share stories, and maybe even make some long-lasting friends! Plus, if you get along with your travel roomies then you can explore your new surroundings together, get food together, etc. No matter how introverted you are or how much you want to travel alone, it’s always nice to connect with people when you are exploring new places.
Obviously, if you can, make sure to check the reviews before booking!! Actually read the reviews because that can tell you so much more about the place than the stars. Everyone rates things differently so reading the reviews will let you know if there are some things that would bother you but not others. For instance, cleanliness is a very subjective thing as well as how equipped a place is with utensils, cookware and so on!
For hostels, I know you might not always be able to look it up or book in advance. Or if you’re doing things spontaneously, then there’s a good chance you won’t look up places to sleep in advance. If that’s the case, try to ask the locals or other tourists what they know and think about the local hostels, hotels, and such!
Don’t Eat Out For Every Meal
When we are on vacation, one of the biggest expenses is going to restaurants. Eating at restaurants that serve cultural dishes is always a good idea, but try to not eat out for every meal! For instance, you could decide to eat out for one meal a day but make your own meals for the other two meals. This would also allow you to check out the local produce and markets. If you’re in a place that has a farmer’s market then go to that!
Not only will you save money by not eating out all the time, but you will also be supporting small and local businesses. When you do go to restaurants, try to avoid fast food or chain restaurants!
Always Tell People Where You Are Going
I know sometimes it’s nice to just pack up your bags and go on an adventure without telling anyone. I’ve been there, trust me. But I also know how unsafe that can be and that if anything were to happen to me, no one would know until it was too late. So please, make sure to tell the people around you all the places you are planning on visiting during your trip and when you’ll be back (or an estimation if you plan on deciding later). If you are able to have wifi and cell service, then you can just keep people updated as you go, but if you are going somewhere that won’t have those, then it is so important to give all the details you can to your family and friends!
Safety Tips For Traveling Alone
Stay alert and stay sober. The best way to stay safe is to be aware of what is happening around you. Follow your gut instincts. If your gut is telling you that you aren’t safe, then quickly get out of there. In general, try to stick to public places so that you don’t end up in a sticky situation.
Don’t tell people you just met where you are staying. No matter how well you get along with someone and how nice they seem, don’t give out all your personal information. It’s always better to be cautious when it comes to personal information.
Research the culture you are going to. Research the popular scams so that you don’t end up with no money or giving out your social security number and go home to nothing (ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration). Research the dress code, what’s polite/impolite and so on so that you don’t offend anyone!
Know whether you can drink the tap water and eat local food. This is especially important if you are traveling to less developed countries. Getting sick is terrible when you are traveling, but getting sick alone is even worse. If the water in the country you are visiting isn’t properly filtered and is known to have parasites, then make sure to only drink water from bottles and make sure they sealed properly. If you buy a water bottle and it seems like it was opened beforehand, do NOT drink that water. For local produce, if the water they use to grow the produce has parasites, then the food will also have those parasites. Eat foods that are packaged or that have been cooked enough that any bacteria or parasite would be killed. If you’re unsure if you can eat or drink something, then it’s probably better to avoid it.
Blend in. The less you stick out like a sore thumb, the better. You are already more vulnerable when you travel alone, but if you look like the stereotypical tourist on top of that, then you will be seen as the perfect victim for scams (and possibly worse things).
Take good care of important documents and jewelry (if you bring any). This is pretty common sense. Keep your documents in a safe spot and don’t flash fancy jewelry.
Always carry a map and the information of where you are staying. Even if you have cell service or wifi, it’s a good idea to carry a map if you don’t know the area because you can’t always rely on your phone battery. It’s also good to have the information of the place you are staying at in case you need to contact them or need directions to it. If you don’t speak the local language, you can just show the address on the card.
Last but not least, I know I said this already but it really truly is important: DO YOUR RESEARCH. From the culture to the exits in your hostel to what to do, research as much as possible in order to avoid bad situations but also know what you want to explore and how to explore it!
Well ramblers, I hope you enjoyed these little traveling tips. Let us know what your travel plans are for Spring Break, if you’ve ever traveled alone, or if you want to travel alone in the future! Even though it is important to think about your safety and budget when you are traveling, the most important thing is to have a good time! Traveling, especially alone, is such an empowering and amazing experience. You can learn so much about a culture and about yourself, so above all else, enjoy your time off and go explore!
Have a lovely weekend and Ramble On!