It seems like only yesterday I was embarking on my first solo travels, even though we are actually talking about 7 years ago! I feel like I always get two responses when I tell people that I prefer to travel solo. One is a simple ‘that’s awesome’, whilst the other is more like ‘are you not scared lol’. To be honest, both are valid. Over the years I’ve seen it all with solo-travel, from the good, bad and downright funny. I just HAD TO share my opinions. Whether you are a regular solo-traveller or are new to the idea, you’re in good hands here.
You’ll have a higher amount of freedom. I have always been the type of person to wake up at 5 am and insist on going outside to explore. My travel companions? Not so much. When I travel solo, I don’t feel ‘bad’ or guilty for waking up early, walking everywhere all day or taking spontaneous trips to the beach whenever I feel like it. My theory will always be if I want to rest on a trip, I’ll rest on the plane ride home lol. Got to make the most of exploring right? However, this also goes in reverse. If you are someone who prefers to relax on holidays then you’ll also see benefits of solo travel. You won’t be pushed around to go climb up a mountain, surf at the beach and watch a sunset at once. Sure, I guess a balance can be struck between excessive vs. minimal adventure, but when you travel alone you won’t have to settle for anything less than what you desire when structuring the day.
People have more patience with you. It might sound weird to say this, but I’ve found people to be a lot more understanding when you ask for directions or food recommendations when you travel alone. In a sense, there is almost a sense of sympathy? I can give a few examples. One time I was having a really rough day on my solo travels so sat in a park feeling defeated. A group of college students approached me and asked me if I was okay. Another example is when I was stranded at an airport and a fellow passenger asked me if I wanted to use their phone charger so that I could download necessary apps onto my phone. Most people have good intentions. I think the desire to help others becomes more visible when you see someone alone looking lost.
As cliché as it sounds, you really do learn a lot about yourself. I would consider myself very outgoing but I didn’t realise to what extent until I travelled solo, because all communication is down to you. This is the dream for a chatterbox like me. However, what surprised me is how many people are also willingly to strike up conversations with strangers in the plane or at street food stalls. For me, I swiftly found out that communicating with locals and fellow tourists was the main reason why I enjoyed to travel solo and how everything I pursued in the future needed to involve high levels of communication. Everyone will find their ‘why’ very quickly.
If you are a female, you will probably hear something along the lines of ‘what is a pretty girl like you doing alone’ followed by creepy winks. Not pleasant! As a solo-traveller, your safety concerns are heightened and sometimes this can stop you from doing certain things. Whilst it is ALWAYS a good idea to be street-savvy, you might yourself feeling annoyed at the thought of having to have an extra pair of eyes at the back of your head at all times. There are certainly ways to reduce fear surrounding solo travel though. Learn how to say ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ in the language of the country you are visiting and keep your valuables placed around different areas of your body. For example, don’t keep your phone, keys and money all in the same pocket. You never know who might be trying to pick-pocket you.
You’ll feel lonely at times. Personally, my feelings of loneliness always seem to strike up when passing restaurants full of people. I catch myself thinking ‘I wish I had my friends here for a giggle over some good food’. You might also feel lonely when sight-seeing as you’ll see so many people exploring in large groups, having the time of their lives. Some ways I’ve combatted loneliness when it arises is by joining walking tours or cooking classes. I’ll also check out events in the city which are aimed at tourists.
Your pictures will most likely be selfies. A full-body picture by iconic landmarks? Forget it. Even if you have a tripod, you’ll probably feel awkward setting it up in front of a bustling crowd of people just to get a snap. You might even find you’ll take no pictures on your trip. Live in the moment and all that, but reminiscing on your travels months later can be difficult without a picture. Trust me, you’ll wish you snapped a few. I have written a post on ways I take pictures alone so I’ll link it for you here: A Guide To Travel Photos When You Are A Solo Traveller!
You’ll pack loads of random things ‘just in case’ but never even use half of it. You know what I mean, that new book you purchased, two pairs of hiking shoes, a portable iron etc. I remember taking an entire bag full of snacks on my first trip, which was the most pointless thing ever because when you are abroad for a short while, you rarely want to eat things from home. I also remember bringing back a huge bag of Italian pasta back to the UK on my return flight, even though my bag was already too heavy. WHY. SERIOUSLY WHY. Although, this changes when you become a nomad as you’ll trek miles and miles for an international supermarket to grab some comfort food from back home!
In your first night at a shared Airbnb, you’ll feel nervous to even move. Suddenly that moment of hunger doesn’t seem so urgent when you think about having to walk into the kitchen to get something to eat. *Gasp* What if you bump into someone? Hahahaha. These feelings pretty much go away after a day or two so don’t worry, but it does happen!
Can you relate to any of these? Let me know in the comments below.
See you in the next post!