So many of us love to travel, see new sights, taste new food, experience new cultures. But sometimes our plans don’t match up with those of the people we’d usually travel with; either they don’t want to go to the same place you’ve got your eye on, they don’t have the money, they can’t get time off work, they just read in their horoscope that they shouldn’t visit any new places in the next couple of months, the list can be endless. But should these reasons mean that we miss out?
Easy answer : no.
And welcome the recent boom of solo travellers. A refreshing, liberating, life changing, nerve wracking and scary experience. The first time is the hardest, but also the most rewarding. Once you realise that you can totally do this, you’ll wonder how you’ll ever travel with someone again.
But it’s so easy to say you’ll be fine, and for some it’ll be beyond easy to make the transition into travelling alone. For others, like me, it was a daunting experience that I eased into. And here are some ways you can do the same:
Go on holiday with friends
Wait, what? Yep, that’s right…go on a city break with friends, but when they head home, go to another city alone. It’ll feel weird once they’ve left and the realisation hits that you’re now in a country that isn’t home, all alone. But, because you’ve already been there a few days with friends, you know the lay of the land. If you’re really nervous, stay in the same city for a couple of extra days, if you think you’ll be ok, move on to a new city.
Visit a country you can speak the language (or at least understand a few key words)
Removing one of the barriers of travel from what may already be a nerve wracking experience will ease the nerves a little. And who doesn’t like having one less thing to worry about? If you don’t speak any other languages, stick to the bigger cities or try learning a few key phrases. Being able to speak to people, even just the cashier, helps stop
Choose your accommodation well
Solo travel doesn’t have to mean hostels. Sure, it’s a great way to keep costs down and meet people, but if you choose well you can find a number of other places to stay that don’t cost much more than a hostel. I always use booking.com (other accommodation providers are available…) and filter down to my price range. It shows you hotels, apartments, b&bs and hostels, so you can pick up what’s best for you. When I’m travelling solo I like to mix it up, staying in a mix of apartments and hostels. There are some days where I’m happy to end the day by myself, tucked up in bed with Netflix and sampling the snacks I’ll have no doubt picked up through the day. Other times I need to be around people, and regardless of whether I book a quiet or lively hostel, sometimes it’s nice to just be around people and have a chat.
Check the location
Sure, the apartment or hostel is dirt cheap, looks nice and has a snazzy kitchen to cook in, but what about the location? We always need to be aware of our surroundings but even more so when travelling alone. You don’t want to feel like you have to return to your accommodation before dark because the area isn’t so great, or be laying in bed wondering what that noise was. I have stayed in some lovely apartments in super dodgy areas and had to plan my day around getting back before a certain time to make sure that it was early enough that I still felt safe. Lesson learnt!
Tell people your plans
This is a twofold point – not only does it make you feel better that someone knows where you are if something goes wrong, but also if you tell people you’re off to Barcelona for a few days traveling solo, it’ll make sure you don’t back out. Maybe that’s just me…
Have an emergency fund available
Most of us are not made of money, and wasting money when travelling is particularly difficult. But, it’s reassuring to know that if you need it, you’ve got money there to help you out of a tight spot. This was particularly helpful for me before I went away the first time, knowing that if I really hated being on my own and didn’t want to carry on, I could use that money to book an earlier flight home. Spoiler: I didn’t…I loved it!
Know that there will be lonely times
This is an obvious point, but it’s essential to know before you go that it’s likely you’ll have a moment where you miss being around people you can have a good ol’ natter with, or who know you well enough to know that you like the ketchup to not touch the rest of your food. But, these moments pass and all it really takes is a quick phone call home for a catch up with someone, a step back to see that you’re doing something totally amazing, and if it lingers, then a change of scenery. And the best part of solo travel, if you really and truly hate it, you can go home and not ruin anyone else’s plans.
There are many things I love about travelling with someone, but now I’ve experienced solo travel, I don’t know how I’ll adjust back to travelling with a friend or partner. The freedom of travelling alone is 100% my favourite thing, and knowing that I’m free to do absolutely whatever I want is amazing. Want to get up at 11am and have a lazy day? Go ahead! Last minute change of plans to visit a place you can see in the distance but aren’t sure if it’s worth it? No worries, it’s only your time you’re wasting!
If you’re considering taking a solo trip, I would 100% recommend giving it a go. Whatever happens, at least you’ll know whether solo travel is for you. And if you’re a fellow solo travel fan, let me know if you have any tips for conquering the transition into solo travel.