I sometimes read blogs and although enjoyable I find myself thinking “it can’t have all been THAT great.” Yes I’m British, therefore I’m a massive pessimist. Sorry about that. I also think it’s in everyone’s best interests to be realistic. As many people have pointed out (myself included) solo travel is mostly great but I know for some people going out into the unknown alone seems unthinkable. It’s not. It is however, daunting so I thought I’d share with you what I think the best and worst parts of travelling solo are.
There’s not a single feeling in the world (that I know of) that compares to being sat on a plane on your own knowing that your flying to a different country with no one but yourself to worry about. By travelling solo your allowed to be selfish, it’s ok to think about yourself for a while and not be confined by who your with. Having complete freedom is not something you should take for granted, in years to come you’ll have responsibilities and other humans that depend on you (yes I’m talking babies), make the most of your freedom!
It get’s lonely
After a while you kind of do want your support network around you. You want to chat aimlessly about stuff other than travel (it’s a hot topic among backpackers.) And when you go back to your hostel and log on to Facebook to see all of your mates out together you’ll get this overwhelming sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) I get this ALL of the time. It’s part and parcel of being away from your comfort zone, but remind yourself that your comfort zone is exactly that… comfy.
It’s much easier to meet new people
It’s easier to spark up conversation with people if your sat on your own in a hostel, I don’t know why this is but couples and groups are just harder to approach. You soon add to your circle and soon enough you’ve got a buddy that you might see a whole city together. I like to think of these people as whistle stop friends. Ok you may never see them again but that amazing time in that awesome city was you and a complete stranger exploring it together.
Your always meeting new people
This kicks in after a couple of weeks on the road bouncing from place to place. It gets tedious constantly asking and getting asked the same questions “where have you been?” “where are you going?” hearing the same chitter chatter about how many countries someone has visited is a great icebreaker but after 2 and half weeks of the same conversation you get real fed up of it. It sucks really but your brain just can’t take much more of it!
You only have to answer to yourself
When your with other people, whether it’s your best mates or new friends, there’s other people that come into the equation when discussing where to go. If you’ve got super chilled friends it’s great but if you’ve got a place you really want to see but your travel buddy isn’t bothered it’s sometimes hard to reach a compromise. If your on your own this obviously isn’t a problem.
There’s no one to share your day with
After an awesome day of travelling round you get back, sit on your bed and want to tell someone all about the fact you just saw the most amazing waterfall or that you jumped out of a plane but you can’t because your travelling solo. Even if there’s people in your hostel it’s not the same as telling someone that get’s you, that knows your huge fear of heights and understands what it took for you to jump. I guess that’s why there’s so many travel blogs out there, we all want to tell someone our stories.
You get the last spots on trips (sometimes for cheaper)
A more practical reason is that your more likely to get on last minute excursions being on your own. Most will have an extra seat for one more person and if your booking last minute you can haggle!
Although there are hostels pretty much everywhere in the world now, it’s still sometimes hard to find places for one person and even if you do, it cost’s so much more as your not splitting it with someone. If your travelling for a while your going to want a night off from hostels and although Air BnB is a great alternative many are still for 2 people sharing.
You take things in better
Walking around with no one to talk to really makes you appreciate somewhere. You take in the culture, the people and notice things you probably wouldn’t if you were with someone else. You can take your time and stop where you want to stop. It’s like a personalised tour just for you.
Walking around a strange city is daunting and as a woman on your own with a backpack and a map it’s kind of a red flag to people that want to find an easy target. There are way’s to make yourself feel safer like; don’t walk around with both headphones in, try not to get out your phone too much, make sure you have a bag with a zip… there’s a few more tips I like to live by when walking around on my own (even in the UK) but there’s no doubt about it that safety does come in numbers.
Getting to know yourself.
The cliche that you ‘find yourself’ when you travel may be cheesy but it’s true, especially when your on your own. Being in your own head is a weird and wonderful feeling. You have time to answer questions you might not have wanted to answer and deal with feelings you might not want to deal with. It toughens you up emotionally and hopefully makes you believe in yourself a bit more. At the end of the day, when your the other side of the world if your not going to believe in yourself, who is? It doesn’t have to be a life changing epiphany that your going to join a convent or save baby elephants it could just be that your going to conquer that mountain that you don’t think your fit enough for or your going to learn how to mediocrely windsurf (my aim this summer.) You’ve got to tell yourself your going to do it because you’re on your own with this one!
I think the pro’s outweigh the con’s when it comes to travelling solo, even if it’s just for a few days, but it isn’t for everyone and I can honestly say some of my best memories have been with my friends whilst travelling.
What do you love about solo travel? Let me know in the comments!