Traveling Alone: How to Have a Life-Changing Solo Travel Experience
Get the Most out of Traveling Alone
Getting married, pulling Christmas crackers, waltzing: some things just aren’t possible on your own. Fortunately, travel doesn’t fall into this category, and blazing a solo trail around the world is not only possible, but extremely rewarding.
This doesn’t change the fact that traveling alone can be one of the most daunting things you ever do, however, in particular for women traveling alone. Setting off to travel the world is a scary enough thing to do in itself, and doing it with no one’s hand to hold when times get rough can make it seem even scarier.
On top of that, sometimes as a solo traveler it can feel like you are missing out. Whether it’s paying full price for a double room, or being the only lone individual on a romantic beach crowded with couples, it sometimes seems like you are getting a raw deal.
For the lone traveler, it is important to make the most of the solo travel experience. Here are a few solo travel tips for how to find ways to make sure you have the travel experiences you deserve.
Don’t Be Afraid to Enjoy Things on Your Own
If eating alone in restaurants gives you anxiety, you could miss out on enjoying local cuisine. If you don’t have the courage to go into a bar alone, nightlife could pass you right by as you sleep.
If you are scared of what might happen if you follow some locals home for dinner, you might let countless connections slip through your fingers. Shyness, nerves and social anxiety can put up barriers between solo travelers and the experiences they desire.
To prevent your fears from getting in the way of making the most of your trip, remember there is absolutely no shame to be had in enjoying a meal or a glass of wine alone. Enjoy the time you have to yourself.
Go out and explore, and relish the absolute freedom you have to do anything you want, whenever you want. While taking downtime in your room is important too, don’t get trapped there.
If you feel lonely or low, staying cooped up alone won’t alleviate that. Stepping outside and reminding yourself where you are, however, might.
If you ever feel awkward about doing things on your own, and worry about how you might look to other people, remember the most beautiful thing about solo travel: no one knows you and no one cares about you, in the best possible way. Coming to this realization is one of the most liberating moments a solo traveler can have.
The people who see you doing what you’re doing will have forgotten you seconds after they saw you. With no one you know around to judge, wear your cloak of anonymity, let go of your reservations and just enjoy being you.
Become a Yes-Person
Whenever travel throws an opportunity your way, say yes to it. Even if it is something you aren’t sure you will like, say yes. Even if it is something that scares you, say yes.
Taking up an invitation to a family dinner, turning up to a party where you know exactly no one, trying weird new foods, going exploring with someone you met in your hostel — learn to embrace opportunity and see where you end up.
Carpe diem, as they say. Some of your most magical experiences are likely to be the spontaneous and unexpected ones.
Simply saying yes can make a huge difference in how much you get out of your solo trip. Obviously, though, draw the line at anything illegal or completely unreasonable.
Position yourself to meet other people. While the privacy of your own room can be sweet, it can also be isolating. If the social butterfly within you is craving company, select accommodations that will facilitate you meeting other travelers.
Many hostels offer private rooms adjacent to lively common areas, which is a great compromise. This way you can meet and chat with other travelers, and from these chance encounters you can find buddies to explore, eat and maybe even travel further with.
More adventurous travelers can meet locals through websites like Couchsurfing, Meetup.com, or through Facebook groups. These are great networking tools for meeting people in completely non-awkward ways, and you can find people with shared interests in outdoor activities, dancing, wine tasting, or any number of things.
Remember to Stay Safe
Nothing will ruin your trip like being robbed, or winding up in a nasty accident. There is a difference between being spontaneous and being needlessly reckless.
Traveling solo does mean you have to keep your wits about you, because there is no one else around to watch your back. So be open to meeting people, but trust no one.
Grab adventure with both hands, but make sure you wear a safety helmet. Go off the grid, but let your family and friends know where you are first.
Common sense is one thing that should never be left off your packing list.
Most importantly, don’t forget that traveling alone can actually help you get MORE out of your trip than if you were traveling with someone you know. You will probably find that the experiences you remember the best, and that give you the warmest feelings, are the ones where you have beautiful, random encounters with fascinating people from all walks of life.
Without the comfortable but exclusive bubble that cushions you when you travel with another person, you will be wide open to all kinds of interactions. Whether it is stopping to ask for directions and ending up being invited into a local shop for a cup of tea, or simply sitting down with a bunch of other travelers and swapping stories as though you have known each other for 10 years instead of 10 minutes, as a solo traveler you will seem much more approachable to other people, and you yourself will be more open to talking to strangers.
This is what’s called a win-win situation.
Solo travel is synonymous with freedom. You can travel on your own terms, according to your own schedule, following your own whims.
With no one else to hold you back or hold you down, you can do all of the things you have always wanted to do. Boldly go where you have never gone before, and make the utmost of your solo travel experience.