2015 was a pretty tough year (for pretty much everyone) and by the end of it, I’d reached a tipping point and needed to take care of myself, away from everyone and everything. So I booked everything during a lunch break and flew out to Cape Verde the following Tuesday. I made it back to tell the tale so here are a few things worth thinking about/doing if you’re thinking of skipping off on your own for whatever reason.
- Tell the people that love you.
I was so anxious after I booked my flight, I wanted to get a GPS tracker to keep on me the whole time (LOL) so my parents would know if
God forbid anything were to happen to me. Let your people know where you will be and how to reach you, should they need to.
- Get a sim-free handset
My first stop on arrival was the mobile phone shop to get a local sim card and data… Lots and lots of data! Luckily my phone is sim-free so whenever I travel I can pop any sim card in it without any problems.
- Google Maps.
It still amazes me how accurate this app is everywhere I go! In case you do get lost and you cannot communicate effectively in the local language, you can navigate your way around pretty easily.
- Have an end-of-day plan.
I had a taxi driver on-call and they would take me to and from my apartment whenever I needed to get around beyond a walking distance. This was also the best way for me to be out at night without worrying about how I would get back to the apartment after dark.
- Other people travel alone too.
I realised on my flight out that there were two or three other solo travellers. I befriended one and we had dinner on a couple of the nights and got to hang out a few times. Being an introvert, this was a serious personal achievement!
- Get to know some of the locals.
This was pretty tricky for me since most of the locals speak Portuguese or Creole exclusively but with a little help from my iTranslate app and some careful hand gestures, I managed to have some meaningful exchanges. Although Cape Verde is off the mainland, the sense of familiarity and the feeling of being ‘home’ is still pretty strong.
- Treat yourself.
A helluvalot of food, a few spa treatments, a lie-in, a lot of meditation… whatever I felt like doing, I did. Not just the pampering but also treating myself- reflecting and getting my mind right was what I aimed to do.
- A bit of common sense.
If you wouldn’t do it at home, then it’s probably a worse idea in a foreign country where you don’t understand how things really work. By the way, getting wasted in a foreign country on your own is
probably not never a good idea… Just saying.
- Documenting your experience.
On the last morning, I took a walk along the beach and recorded a video where I just talked to myself about where I was, why I was there and what I had learnt about myself during my trip and every time I watch it, I feel motivated and inspired.
This may seem ultra-conservative to most people and to be honest, it is. I have a genuine fear of being taken but now I know myself better and I know how far I can push myself. Would I do it again? Without a doubt and I’d recommend it. The key is to be safe so you can really make the most of your experience!