Gizmos, Gadgets and Other Great Finds

Traveling solo? You're really not left to your own devices anymore! These days there are a multitude of options available to help you navigate even the most foreign lands

Tina Richardson

Traveling solo? You're really not left to your own devices anymore! These days there are a multitude of options available to help you navigate even the most foreign lands

RW CO clothes

Traveling solo? You're really not left to your own devices anymore! These days there are a multitude of options available to help you navigate even the most foreign lands. From currency conversion to locating that perfect restaurant, to getting your point across in another language, here are the ones our solo travellers keep going back to.

Anti-theft bags: Without a travel partner to keep an extra eye on your stuff, you want to be sure you're taking the right precautions. Anti-theft bags are created with the savvy traveller in mind and include a multitude of cool features such as RFID technology, locking compartments, and slash proof straps. Forgot yours at home? A great trick is to turn your regular bag around the other way, so any outside compartments are facing towards your body.

Translation APPs: Enter the English text, select the language you wish to translate to and voila! You're not going to translate your life story this way, but it sure is helpful when you're conversing with locals. These APPs come in all shapes and sizes, some are free and don’t even require data. If you have food allergies, this will be a huge help getting your point across. I suggest also jotting down the translation of your allergies on a piece of paper and tucking it somewhere safe, so you can quickly show it to a server if your device is not sufficiently charged.

Mapping APPs: Excellent for planning your day, finding that hard to locate shop or just getting your bearings. In Rome this past fall, a group of us navigated our way to a tricky to find restaurant in the Campo dei Fiori neighbourhood using this method! We were so, so close, but just kept getting turned around. With the help of one of these, we were enjoying a fantastic meal in no time with very smug smiles from having conquered the maze of Rome.

Currency converter: Anyone who has travelled with me on tour has seen this in action! I use this regularly when I travel and find it particularly useful when bartering because you can manoeuvre the CAD price and quickly see its equivalent in local currency. It’s quick and easy and there are lots that don’t require data. It’s also good for a few laughs. In Iceland I regularly entertained the gals with price calculations in Afghan Dollars! Yes – I should be wearing my glasses!

Travel guide books: Lonely Planet, Rick Steves, whatever the flavour, these guidebooks are a great resource for planning what you'd like to do at destination. From where to find the best happy hour, to dining, to activities to fill your day. Some even include bonuses such as pull out maps, local walking guides, etc. You’d rather save your pennies for souvenirs? Don’t discount your local library for these. Request them ahead of time and take them with you. Travelling in North America? CAA has many great tour books and maps at no additional cost to Members.

Locally hosted walking tours: All the rage these days, and popular throughout Europe, these tours are led by locals who are well versed in their city, who have a knack for storytelling and a love for the arts and history. These are free; however it is customary to tip the local guide at your own discretion. This is a win-win on both sides. The guides do something they love on their own schedule, and you receive a unique local perspective of a city.

Hop on/Hop Off bus tours: Designed to hit all the hot spots of a city in just one day, these tours enable you the flexibility of getting off the bus and exploring on your own. Just hop back on when you're ready to travel to the next location. There is running commentary along the way, recorded or live, highlighting all the "must see’s". Tickets are usually available for one day or multi day. In large cities, these can prove to be an invaluable form of transportation alone. When you're already doing so much walking in a day, it's nice to take a load off and coast for a bit.

Cooking classes: What better way to really get to know a destination than in a local kitchen? If you're in Italy, make your own pasta, in Peru mix your own Pisco Sour - the world is your oyster. Literally! These can be arranged ahead of time or locally, and formats will vary. Some are more of a demonstration; some are down right “get your hands dirty!” I especially enjoy when a visit to the local market is also included to shop for the ingredients. This fall in Tuscany, our Solo Traveller Club will be taking this one step further, truffle hunting with a local and his dog, gathering the elusive truffles and cooking with them later on.

Homestay: A deep dive into local living. Hosted by a local family, you will have the opportunity to harvest crops, prepare meals is in the kitchen and experience a day in the life of another culture. These are memories you will carry with you for lifetime. Just ask our Solo Travellers who stayed on the island of Amantani in Titicaca a while back how many potatoes they peeled!

If it all still seems like a bit of work to you, we've got you covered! Our CAA Solo Traveller Club tours are chock full of these types of experiences. You'll taste wine with the locals, see how fresh mozzarella is made, and schmooze with a local family over tea. We've taken all the guesswork away from you, while still allowing you to put your own stamp on things with free time worked into the itinerary. For more information on where we're headed next, visit caaneo.ca/solo , email solo@caaneo.on.ca , or contact your favorite CAA Travel Professional.

To get your hands on cool travel merchandise, check out the CAA Store nearest you!