Like anything in this world, travelling solo has its positives and negatives. If you’re thinking about travelling around Africa solo and it seems difficult, it can be and has been done by these amazing AfroNomads we profiled. With help from our Travel Africa Twitter Chat host Vuyiswa Matomane, we’ve gathered 10 tips on how to stay safe and enjoy yourself while travelling solo through an African country or around the whole continent. The great thing about travelling solo in Africa is you really get to appreciate the beauty of the land, culture and the people on your own way. Solo travel teaches you that the world is so much bigger and more interesting than your circle. The cool places “for tourists” provide base and context, but should only use them as trampolines to jump into the real culture.
- Research: Before you travel, get some basic knowledge about the country you’re going to e.g. language, religion, customs, culture, dress code etc. It’s also good to know what is happening in the country during the time you are planning to visit as some periods are not ideal, e.g. election time or Ramadan.
- Mingle: When you visit a new place, hangout with the locals, taste their food, visit their bars and restaurants. Attending festivals, concerts and sporting events would definitely help when travelling solo as you get to meet many local people.
- Explore: Travelling solo can be fun because you get to do exactly what you want. Wake up early, walk around the city and do things that a friend may not necessary want to do. You rely on yourself more and create your own experiences.
- Focus: Always be aware of what’s happening around you. Try not to have headphones on in public as you may lose focus of your local surroundings and it attracts robbers.
- People: Be sure about your new-found friends. Nothing wrong with making friends but don’t be too hasty to go out with them. Get a taxi driver or local guide recommended by the hotel or local tourism board.
- Language: It is a lovely gesture to greet Africans in their native language. Learn a few common words in the local language for taxis, haggling and courtesy. Locals love to teach you a few words or correct your pronunciation.
- Money: Don’t take too much money out with you. The markets are busy so be careful when taking money from your purse. The traders can smell a tourist from afar and will charge you double the price for goods so have your haggling hat on. Don’t settle for the first price as it’s always double or triple the normal price.
- Valuables: Try not to show your mobile goods when travelling solo. Make photocopies of paperwork and ID such as passports and travel docs.
- Communicate: Smile, ask for help, initiate conversations with the locals. The greatest thing about Africa is the people are friendly and welcoming. Ask if you can take photos of people as some don’t like being put on show. Let your hotel know you itinerary so they can look out for you. Also communicate with family members and friends back home so they know you are safe.
- Dress: African countries are highly religious and prefer people to dress modestly. Cover up your arms and legs when travelling solo so not to attract the wrong attention. Wearing trousers, long skirts and dresses are always a safe option. If it’s scorching hot, which it usually is, carry a light scarf to cover up.
What are you top tips on solo travel? Let us know in the comment box below.