To travel solo, or not to travel solo. That is the questions, and the question I have been asked a bit recently. Should I travel solo? Is it safe? What are the pros and cons?
Well ask and you shall receive!
The first time I decided to travel solo I was so nervous. I researched every day and feel like I read every possible blog on solo travel on the internet. It’s daunting if you have never done it before, there’s so many aspects to consider.
So here are the main things that crossed my mind when considering travelling alone:
CON: Lonely… I am so lonely. I think this is an obvious one, at some point in your solo travels you are going to get lonely. Like many others, I crave company so this was a big personal obstacle to overcome. To help with the feeling of loneliness you could:
Ditch the lonely hotel room and stay at a bustling hostel – new people check in everyday so chances are you will find someone friendly to talk to
Try couch surfing – they are obviously going to be friendly if they are willing to allow you come into their home. They could even show you some ‘off the beaten track’ sights in their local neighbourhood. Just make sure you do some research
Join a tour/excursion – some of these are actually free and will obviously contain people with similar interests
The sure way to meet some friends…. go on a pub crawl. Nothing like a bit of alcohol to help remove those nerves!
PRO: Lets be friends! Once when travelling with one of my friends we noticed it took a while for people to warm up to us. We are easy going, fun gals (if I do say so myself), why didn’t they think the same? Later we were to find out people didn’t want to approach us because we were one tight unit and it made us intimidating. You are more approachable to people if you travel solo. So embrace this new opportunity to spark up a conversation with random travellers, or even a local. What have you got to lose? Nothing! You may never see them again. And to gain? Potential new, lifelong friendships!
Try some of the things in the ‘loneliness’ point above. Just remember: a simple smile can be a powerful thing.
“1 Universe, 8 Planets, 204 Countries, 809 Islands, 7 Seas, and I had the privilege to meet you” — Unknown
CON: Safety in numbers. Although this statement is not entirely true, there is more comfort in knowing you have someone there with you. You feel more vulnerable on your own, like you have a target on your head, so having your buddies right there with you to watch you back provides that comfort you need.
But if you are the ‘glass half full’ kind of person like me, you could actually turn it into a pro. Going solo you are less likely to be distracted by your companions and will be more aware of your surroundings. You can also blend in and look like a local. Just remember some basic things like:
In crowded areas keep your bag on your front – those pickpockets are clever (Watch the clip In my previous post ‘The Brunette Travel Tips’)
Try taking different routes back to your accommodation, mix it up – just stay clear of the back streets
Leave the token tourist clothes at home – nothing screams tourist like an ‘I heart NYC’ t-shirt. Dress more like the locals do
Listen to those voices – when your hesitant head says ‘I don’t know, it should be alright’ and your gut is screaming “oh hell no”…. listen to your gut! Chances are, it’s right
Most importantly – get travel insurance!
PRO: Free as a bird. It’s all about you! There is no one to complain about the things you want to do and see. You can be as lazy or as active as you want. When you are hungry, you eat. Tired, you sleep. Do those daring things you may not do because a less adventurous companion puts doubt in your mind. Everything is simple! It’s good to sometimes disconnect and just enjoy your own company.
CON: Wish you were here! This is one that I was particularly torn on. Not only do you have the potential of being lonely, but if you are like me you want to share the world with people. I want to be able to say “remember that time…..”
For example: I had previously been to Paris and seen all the sights, but this time was going back with first timers. I knew the best metro stop to get the amazing view of the Eiffel Tower was Trocadéro – so I took them there. When we rounded the corner to see the tower, their faces just lit up. The pure joy and excitement on their faces was priceless and I would not have missed it for the world!
Whether you are seeing something for the first time, or revisiting something you loved – its always better shared with someone.
CON: Show me the money. Travelling alone can be more expensive than travelling with people. The cost that could be split between two or more, all rests on you. Rooms are usually about the same price for one person as they are for two, transportation (especially those late night taxis from the airport) and eating out. So budget a bit more for those solo travels.
PRO: Who am I? This is the perfect opportunity to ‘find yourself’. Like I said before, you are free as a bird. Free to do what you want, when you want. You will find new things you like, and of course new things you dislike. Being alone gives you time to reflect (no.. not dwell, reflect) on your past and, in turn, prepare for the future. Solo travel will help you grow as a person.
“Be yourself, everyone else is taken” — Oscar Wilde
CON: Let me take a Selfie! The last thing people want to look at is a million selfies of you around the world. Or worse, no pictures of you at all making friends question if you were really there. Not only that, but you get sick of asking people “excuse me, can you take a picture of me” only to review it and they have cut half your head off. When this happens you have four options:
Ask them to take another, which they will probably despise because they can’t understand what was wrong with their first photographical masterpiece
Ask someone else to do it and hope the last person doesn’t see you photo-cheating on them
Think “stuff it, that will do” and abort the mission, only later to regret it later
Hello selfie stick, let’s take another selfie…
I guess the only plus side to this is, you will be able to run “how to take the perfect selfie” classes upon your return home because let’s face it, you will be a pro!
There are many pros and cons about travelling solo. The con that always concerns me is loneliness. As mentioned, I crave the company of others – especially my friends. The times where I want to share that special moment with a friend will always be the hardest moments for me.
On the other hand, the biggest pro is self discovery. I am an introvert by nature, it takes me a while to get my confidence to be myself and talk to people.
But travelling solo I don’t have to show this – I can be anybody I want to be so it is the perfect opportunity to be a closet introvert and show the confident, bubbly me. I do things I have never done, make new friends and take time to reflect and figure out future aspirations.
I believe solo travelling is something everyone needs to try at least once. It’s a time to find out who you truly are as a person – it turned out to be one of my best travel decisions. And if you really stop and think about it, with over 1 billion fellow likeminded travellers globetrotting each year – are you really going to be alone?
Give it a go!