Solo Travel. Do those two words scare you?
Some people chose to explore independently, whilst others end up doing so because they can’t find a travel partner for a particular date or country. There is a common misconception that travelling solo means you are doing everything by yourself and that you are always ‘alone’. This is certainly not the case. Believe me when I say it is quite the opposite.
I am always surprised when people ask me how I can set off into the big wide world alone, with doubt in their voices. At first it was a little scary, but now it feels like second nature. Knowing I am capable of booking a single plane ticket to a new place with confidence is a liberating feeling.
Here are some reasons why you should travel solo. Go get lost and find yourself!
You Have Complete Freedom
I feel euphoric when I am in a new place and I can wake up to a day where anything is possible.
- Wake up with no fixed plan and see where the day takes you. You could meet some new people over breakfast in a hostel and bam, next minute you are spending the day wandering around Barcelona with some new friends.
- Sleep when you desire. Sometimes I want to sleep in, sometimes I want to explore a city at 7am when no ones around. Some nights I want to stay out until sunrise and other nights I prefer watching a movie on my laptop and be asleep by 9pm.
- Fall in love with a place and stay a few extra days. Or weeks. Or months.
- Meet people in a similar situation and make further travel plans together.
- Wander the streets whilst listening to music when you don’t feel like socialising.
The opportunities are endless!
Travelling solo doesn’t make you an inconsiderate person. It is simply a way to spend time abroad doing what you want to do. Don’t miss out on things others don’t want to see.
See The Places On Your Own Bucketlist
Have you ever wanted to do something but you don’t know anyone else who wants to join? Maybe you want to go to Mexico, or discover Morocco, but your friends think they are dangerous? It’s completely fine to want to see different things, but don’t let that hold you back. Solo travel allows you to conquer your personal bucket list. The choice is always yours. There are so many adventure tours available where you will meet people wanting the same.
Spontaneity is the greatest gift for solo travel. One day I met an Australian guy who was travelling Europe by motorcycle. He had a spare seat on the back of his bike so he found a spare helmet for me and we spent the day riding up the Austrian Alps from Salzburg to the Werfen Ice Caves. A similar decision took me to Dubrovnik Old Town as a passenger on a 60-something year old Croatian hostel owners scooter at sunset. One time I went to London with the plan of staying 5 days, but spent 3 weeks there instead. I loved Brazil so I extended my stay. When I had a stopover in Madrid, I spent a day wandering the city.
Honestly, when I do have plans and bookings, I don’t always want to leave one place for another and quite often I find myself heading back to experience more. I would never had done these things had I been taking another person into consideration.
Get Outside Your Comfort Zone
This is the greatest for developing your people skills and going out of your way to meet others. Many of those travelling as a group may depend on each other and don’t always socialise with strangers because they are content with the company they have already, whereas if you are alone you tend to make more of an effort. In saying that, there are still countless friendly groups that will adopt you into their circle. If you want to join forces with others, do not sit in the corner with your eyes glued to your phone or you’ll miss out on all the fun.
You Are Rarely ‘Alone’
There are plenty of others out there just like you and almost everyone wants to meet new people. If you are backpacking, you will find most people friendly and open. Hostels are the number 1 place to meet fellow solo adventurers. I think it’s exciting to walk into a hostel dorm and see who is inside. Chances are you will meet people from all corners of the globe and learn about other cultures. A friendly hello can lead to a few days or a few weeks exploring new places together. I’ve made so many great friends this way who have contributed immensely to my memories abroad. As long as you wear a friendly smile, you are not going to be sightseeing or partying alone, unless of course you want to. Solo travel gives you the opportunity to meet like minded people and I’ve walked away with many life long friends.
If you are going on a tour with Busabout, Contiki or Topdeck to name a few, you won’t be alone even if you try. Although you will initially arrive as an individual, you will be constantly surrounded by others who are keen to mingle.
Enjoy Some Downtime When You Need It
Sometimes if you have been wandering the city all day, you might just want a night to chill out and recover. It can be hard keeping up with another person, but it can be harder if they don’t want to do things on their own so you are ruining their night by spending it in bed.
Heading to a destination in the summer is great because you get more time out of your day. In Europe, the sun doesn’t set until at least 10pm in most places, allowing you to have a guilt free sleep in and still having the majority of the day ahead of you.
But there are also some things to bear in mind…
Who Will Take The Photos?
The only downfall I can think of when to travelling solo can be when you want a great photo but you are too shy to ask a stranger to take one for you. Don’t be scared, most people are more than happy to help.
Tip: Ask someone who is holding a professional looking camera (you will find these at nearly all main attractions) and you will most likely leave with a great shot. Don’t go for the flustered looking tourist who will aim and fire in 2 seconds. It can be super annoying asking for a photo and in return finding one of yourself and…nothing. (Excuse me sir, but I wanted the Colosseum in the photo also, not half of the ground I am standing on). Be friendly yet specific, or you’ll regret it later!
Be Wary Of Your Surroundings
As a female travelling solo, sometimes you do get unwanted attention from groups of local males (usually harmless), but it’s important to be cautious and make sure you don’t find yourself wandering dark, dodgy places alone. You are accountable for you and only you; no one is there to hold your hand so do make sure you use your common sense. I love to go out for some drinks with new friends and often those have turned into crazy nights. I always make sure I go out with someone staying in my hostel or stick with a group on a pub-crawl, so somebody does know my whereabouts. It doesn’t hurt to let a friend or family member back home know what you are up to, just to be on the safe side.
Unlicensed Taxis Are A No No
I once missed the last bus taking people into town from Zadar airport in Croatia late at night. I got into an unlicensed taxi without realising because I was eager to get to my hostel. After noticing my driver take a turn down an unlit street with the Zadar sign pointing the other direction, I naturally freaked out and my mind wandered to the Taken movie. He was just taking me the longest way possible in order to charge a much more expensive fair, but it was quite a scary experience, especially when he put the windows up.
Trust, with Caution
I am a trusting person, but I like to think I have my wits about me when something doesn’t seem right. Although I’m open to trying different things and accepting kindness from strangers, there are a few offers I’d politely decline. I wouldn’t go into a random persons house for dinner after just meeting them if I’m alone, but I would instead accept to grab dinner with them in an open, public place. The world is full of kindness too, just use your head.
Don’t get me wrong, I love solo travel for all the reasons stated above, but I also adore travelling with good friends, my boyfriend and family members. I have many wonderful memories doing so. I have also found that the friends I’ve met along my travels have been some of the most compatible people to explore with. Everyone has their preferences and you might enjoy your time more with someone familiar. It really depends on what kind of person you are.
Nowadays, I tend to travel more with my boyfriend which I enjoy just as much, but it’s also nice to have the freedom to venture off alone. I guarantee travelling solo will boost your confidence and you will surprise yourself with what you can accomplish on your own two feet on foreign turf. Whether its for 2 days, 2 weeks or 2 months, it’s great to try it at least once. Although it can be a little intimidating at times, if you use your common sense, your adventure will be fulfilling and you will come home with a sense of achievement. That exhilarating feeling when you arrive to a new place, completely anonymous to every single person who surrounds you is unforgettable.
Have you travelled solo? What was your experience? Let me know in the comments below!