18 Aug 2022 | By Sun International
Satisfy your soul by going solo
Author and traveller Lerato Mogoatlhe reveals her tips on planning a solo trip
Ever considered travelling solo? Being able to create your own itinerary without having to consult anyone and deciding to linger longer, extending your trip at the last minute because your time is your own, are just some of the benefits. South Africa offers many resort, staycation and sho’t left offerings designed to get you out of your comfort zone in complete safety.
There’s no bigger (or better) proponent of solo travel than Lerato Mogoatlhe. The author of the critically acclaimed Vagabond, Wandering Through Africa on Faith, a poetic account of her travels through 21 African countries on her own, says the great gift from solo travel has been freedom – from fear, self-judgment, and to not relent from being assertive.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt about yourself through solo travel?
Kindness – and not just the kind that’s expressed as an attitude or hashtag. The type of kindness that made me offer a place to stay to a stranger who clearly looked nervous about his arrival in SA. So he came to our house and we now have a friend for life!
What do you enjoy about travelling on your own?
Meeting new people and making instant and sometimes intense friendships, and going with the flow. I was in Sao Tome and Principe recently. They speak Portuguese, which I didn’t understand at the time. A man I had only met once asked me if I wanted to follow a small crowd to comfort a bereaved family. After walking for a long time, the sky getting darker, we finally came to a section with the most delicious sea breeze I’ve ever felt. It was his favourite experience of his village, and he wanted to share it with me.
What are some of the things you like to do and/or experience when you travel?
Look for ways to turn a few days away into a moment in time. For me, it’s experiencing the places I visit through hobbies, like learning to cook Swahili dishes in Lamu or dance in Bamako. It doesn’t matter if they don’t turn into a lifelong habit, but rather that they create a more profound experience of a place.
Lerato’s five tips on planning a solo trip
1. Join tour groups for excursions and experiences that are far from your hotel or out of town.
2. If you’ve never travelled on your own, choose destinations with well-developed tourism infrastructure, like South Africa. With a variety of hotels, restaurants and activities, you’ll always have something to do.
3. Do a dry run by starting with a small local trip, like a weekend away at The Palace, where you can experience game drives in the Pilanesberg, a hot-air balloon ride, a bespoke spa treatment followed by a long lazy lunch. a day at the seaside. Discovering something new and spending time on your own is a great way to learn more about yourself.
4. Always share your itinerary with a close friend or family member so someone knows where you are.
5. I recently started using a tripod and Bluetooth remote, so I take better pictures of myself on my travels. It seems like a chore, but trust me, it’s all worth it when you look back at the memories.