I can’t even believe I’m saying this but I’ve been solo-travelling for 7 years. It still feels like yesterday when I took my first solo-trip as a broke college student all those years ago. Where has the time gone?! After some nostalgic reflection, I’ve realised how much I credit solo travels to many of my characteristics. Sounds cringe to say I know, but you really do get to see the good, the bad and the downright ugly. Let’s go!
You’ll communicate like you’ve never communicated before.
What does this mean? Allow me to explain. Seeing as you’re reliant on yourself to get by, you’ll communicate in so many different ways without even noticing. As you can imagine, as a solo-traveller, when language barriers become an issue you can’t exactly ask your multilingual friend to help you out. Over the years, I’ve communicated with emojis, with doodles, with body language and of course, Google Translate. All of these forms of communication really taught me how we aren’t limited to solely oral conversation. Solo travel forces you to be creative and, for me, that’s a wonderful thing. I actually wrote a post about language barriers when travelling so I’ll link it here for you if you want some post-reading: How To Get Over Language Barriers When Solo-Traveling
People you meet once will come back into your life in the future.
One of my favourite things about solo-travel is that you’ll randomly meet people by the pool or at a coffee shop, then a few years later you’re travelling to see them in their home city. People who hosted their house out to me whilst I was Air BnB-ing have become lifelong friends. People who I met strolling Barcelona have become social media friends who pop up every year to wish me happy birthday. You get the idea. Cherish these connections.
You’re going to feel lonely at times, but that’s where the best memories happen.
You’re busy exploring then suddenly loneliness hits your stomach. It’s not fun but it happens. I would be lying if I sat here telling you I never get lonely on solo-travels. However, from these moments I’ve created unforgettable experiences. This is usually because instead of just sitting on a bench feeling sorry for myself, I take action. Often, I’ll go for walks by following random roads and end up at beautiful hidden gems I didn’t even know existed, or I’ll head to a tourist hotspot to soak up the atmosphere. How can a smile not appear on my face after experiencing these moments? When I solo-travel, I tend to exercise my initiative more and this leads me to new opportunities.
No matter how street-savvy you are, you’ll still stumble into unpleasant situations.
Yup. There are things you’ll never be able to fully prepare for or predict. Whether that be getting followed, getting scammed or something else, taking each moment as it comes worked better for me than thinking generically about every potential mishap. I found that if I got into a sticky situation, thinking about what most people would do didn’t help me to untangle myself. I had to take the facts and situation in the very moment to work out best course of action. As a hypothetical example, if you are being followed then you might automatically scream for help but what if doing so would attract the attention of people you want to avoid? Don’t go by a textbook when it comes to safety as common sense is also a saviour. For tips on avoiding scams, give my previous post a read: How To Avoid Tourist Scams When Traveling or Backpacking
Your ability to efficiently pack bags within seconds will become second-nature.
I get it. On your first solo-trip you’ll probably pack things you don’t even use ‘just in case’. Heck, this may even continue for years. However, you’ll reach a point where you’ll want to pack as minimally as possible. You’ll get tired lugging around a heavy bag as it weighs you down and puts you in a bad mood FAST. When you travel solo, you want to be as free as possible. Being responsible for a whole suitcase won’t appeal to you. Instead, you’ll just grab the clothes you need, a bunch of toiletries and your passport in under a minute.
I urge everyone to travel solo at least once in their life. Without exaggerating, I would personally describe it as pretty life-changing. Even if you decide afterwards that it’s not for you, at least you’ll know for certain.
Until then, see you in the next post!