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Top tips for solo walking and cycling trips

shutterstock_133899356.jpgSolo walking and cycling can have many advantages, but for most people there are also concerns about safety. The benefits of a solo walking or cycling holiday include:
  • Complete flexibility as you can suit yourself when and how.
  • No worries about finding your holiday partner annoying.
  • Sense of achievement from doing something different on your own.
  • Heightened experience in terms of what you see and do because there are no distractions from others.
  • Delightful feeling of complete freedom.
Worries of solo travel include:
  • Fears of safety (especially for women)
  • Becoming lost or lonely
  • Single person’s supplement cost for holidays alone
  • No joint memories to share with other people after the trip although photographs make a great substitute.

Think about a self-guided walk or bike tour

A good solution for solo travel is to book a trip that follows a guided walking or cycling route (there are loads at macsadventure.com). In this way you will know what your route is each day and you can be sure that other people will know where you are (even if it is approximate). Other advantages of guided walk and cycle trips include:
  • The chance of meeting other similar-minded people along the route (if meeting people is what you want)
  • Easier route finding thanks to maps and guide books.
  • Heightened awareness of your surroundings. When you are walking or cycling alone and navigating a route you will have more awareness of the sights, sounds, smells etc of the landscape you are travelling through because there are no distractions from other people.
  • Peace and solitude. These are factors that are often overlooked when travelling as a group but they are always great for the soul.
  • Confidence. Travelling on your own shows you what you can achieve on your own.

21 tips for solo travel

Book ahead. While some people love the freedom of not knowing where they will stay each night, others find security in knowing they have a bed each night. Walking and cycling holiday tour companies, such as Macs Adventure, can book all this ahead for peace of mind. Plan your day’s route before you go. If you are following a self-guided walk or cycle still take a good look at the day’s route. Take account of distance and total ascent, in particular. Many travellers now use devices, such as Garmin, for routes that can be followed as you travel. Stay in hostels or accommodation that has shared sleeping or dining areas. You will meet other solo people and can share ideas and perhaps find someone going the same route, who could walk or cycle with you for a bit if you want. It’s your choice! Take earplugs in case of snorers if you plan to use dormitory style accommodation. Allow for “fudge factor” timings. Solo travel can sometimes mean getting lost or losing the route so make sure you have all the kit and food you need in case you are walking or cycling longer than you expect. Spare batteries or a remote charger for your phone and/or navigation device are vital for solo travellers. Tell others where you will be going each day so that if something happens someone else knows where you were meant to be. A SPOT tracker is a small device that you can carry with you that lets people know where you are. It can also be used for telling other people about your solo adventures via social media etc. See Find Me SPOT Use a modern GPS device so you know exactly where you are. OS Locate, from www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk, is a new app that helps you find your location on a map. But don’t forget that devices can stop working so always carry a map and compass, and your route guide notes, if you are following a route that is not signposted. Take a photograph of your map and route and store on your phone in case of emergencies. Write down vital information and store it your luggage in case the worst happens and you lose your phone/day pack. Add some emergency cash to the same place. Make sure you have local emergency services numbers and taxi numbers added to you mobile phone contacts list. These numbers are different in most countries so find out what they are before you go, or ask your holiday booker for advice. You never know what might happen so make sure you have good travel insurance and the European recognised health card, the EHIC. ID wristbands are increasingly popular. Check out The ID Band Company or One Life ID, for example. Or add your ICE (in case of emergency) numbers into your phone or write them on a sticker on the inside of your bike helmet etc. Use an app such as a Google map that shows you where local cafes etc are. You can also use this to find bike shops should the need arise for spare parts or mechanical help. Travel as light as you can. The rule is to pack your kit and then take it all out and halve it. Booking with a tour company can help, too, because they can arrange to take your overnight baggage to each night’s accommodation leaving you to carry only the stuff you will need for the day’s walking or cycling. Plan in rest days. Days for taking it easy and perhaps hanging out with people that you have met along the way are important. Duct tape. This amazingly versatile and useful item is hailed as a saviour in all sorts of situations. Duct tape can fix so many things. Use a credit card with good rates on international transactions. Use your commonsense and rely on gut feelings. For example, be aware of stranger danger and being out in an area that you don’t know after dark. Most places will be fine and safe but it pays to be sensible. Just do it. Don't listen to the naysayers who ask: "Aren't you scared of travelling alone?" Most people who have done so will tell you amazing stories of their trips.
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