10 Truths for Solo Travel – If You’re Thinking About Adventuring Alone
Travelling alone opens up a world of opportunities when exploring the world. If there’s a place you have always wanted to go, but can’t find the right companion, then travelling solo may be just what you need. Just what you need to get away from the people you see everyday. But even for a natural loner like me, travelling solo is no doubt a challenge.
There are many things out there listing the tips and the advantages of solo travel – but many of them lack the truth of the situation. About when you are actually out there, experiencing the wonders of the world alone.
Travel blogger Robyn White shares 10 truths everyone should know about solo travel in this guest post (find her blog here). Learn how to travel alone and love it.
1. The friends are fleeting, but beautiful.
From discussing Bill Bryson over pasta and wine on a busy Roman street, to exploring cities on foot for 14 hours a day with a Taiwanese stranger. You will feel as if you’ve known the people you meet for years.
The people you meet when travelling solo are some of the most interesting relationships you’ll ever form. While sometimes you’ll be at the wrong place at the wrong time, where everyone is already in a massive group and kindred solo travellers are scarce, sometimes you’ll find someone in exactly the same boat as you; alone and waiting for company.
These people will give you an exploring or a dinner companion, but travelling is all about moving to the next place. So these friends are also fleeting but beautiful. Find a few tips for making friends while travelling solo.
“The man who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The man who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been before. ” – Alan Ashley-Pitt
2. Loneliness will happen. But that’s okay.
Travelling alone while the majority of people travel with a companion, can sometimes make you feel like you’re doing something crazy. Sometimes you will feel the empty space beside you as strongly as you tasted that mouldy French cheese.
One of the loneliest moments in my life was the 12 hour place journey to the depths of South Africa, at 18 years old. But, as people, we adapt to situations as naturally as breathing. To find yourself alone in unfamiliar territory will teach you so much about yourself and will ultimately make you more at peace with being your own best friend.
Just remember, that in those lonely moments, something unexpected is about to come right round the corner. Just like real life, travelling has good days and bad days. Discover a few ways solo travellers can beat loneliness.
“The man who goes alone can start today, but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.” – Henry David Thoreau
3. To write is to share.
When eating alone, or travelling to your next destination, keeping a diary can be a creative way of passing the time and making you feel less on your own.
Writing postcards to loved ones back home can be a way of capturing that beautiful sunset, and sharing it with someone, even though you are witnessing it with yourself and you.
“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the most pleasant sensations in the world. You are surrounded by adventure.” – Freya Stark
4. Eating alone is not as scary as you think.
Just do it. Go into the restaurant and ask for a table for one. The first time I ate alone felt bizarre and embarrassing.But learning to appreciate the fact that nobody cares about you or your lack of a companion makes it less so.
A good book or a camera to look back on the pictures you took that day will make it feel more comfortable. And you may even meet an Italian language student from Arizona, sat alone at the table beside you. Or was that just me?
“Loving life is easy when you are abroad. Where no one knows you and you hold your life in your hands all alone, you are more master of yourself than at any other time.” – Hannah Arendt
5. It is not that dangerous out there.
There is no end to people who will try and scare you if you tell them about your travel plans, especially if you tell them you it will be solo travel. In my experience, these people are merely trying to be helpful. When I told people I was going to South Africa on my own, nobody failed to warn me of the level of crime out there.
Being scared of being alone out there in the big wide world, I would argue, is not valid. Of course there are destinations that call for a bit more caution, but it doesn’t pay to be scared. It pays to be bold.
“You do not travel if you are afraid of the unknown, you travel for the unknown, that reveals you with yourself.” – Ella Maillart
6. You need to be realistic when travelling alone.
Yes, the world is not as scary as you think. But you need to realistic when planning your solo travels. It can seem like a fairly simple task, once you decide to go. Buy a ticket, pack your bag and you’re all set.
But making the decision to travel solo in the comforts of your own home is different to how you feel when getting to the wilderness of an unfamiliar city surrounded in people you don’t know.
When planning my first big solo trip, I decided I’d be perfectly able to take a night train by myself from Amsterdam to Zurich, camping out in a communal carriage to save money. This was stupid. I was only 18 years old and had never been away from home.
Undertaking the overnight train seemed easy before I’d left. But suddenly, I was in a rainy and cold Amsterdam alone, and waiting until 11pm to catch a night to Switzerland was not going to happen.
“My alone feels so good — I’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude.” – Warsan Shire
7. Being shy will not help you.
A bit of tough love here. There was a time when I thought strangers were the scariest people in the world. I would want to crawl into a hole in the ground whenever I thought about walking up to stranger and asking if they want to join me.
Kindred solo travellers are going to be some of the friendliest people you’ll ever come. Chances are they are just waiting for someone like you to make the first move and say, “Hi.” Just remember, this is not the same as making small talk with a grumpy commuter on the tube. These are people looking for adventure, just like you. So get up and say, “Hi.” You can find a few strategies for the shy solo traveller here
“Don’t ever accept anyone else’s preconceived limitations. If there’s something you want to do, there isn’t any reason you can’t do it.” – Amy Dodson
8. You need to be kind to yourself during solo travel.
So even though it doesn’t help to be shy, you sometimes need to cut yourself a break. Travelling alone is hard, and to pretend it isn’t won’t help.
There are going to be days when you don’t want to push yourself, when you’re tired from that journey and all you want to do is curl up in your hostel bunk and have some you time to yourself. Sometimes that will be just what you need. You are still human when travelling the world. And you still need to kind to yourself.
“Sometimes the journey has to be travelled alone in order to appreciate the strengths that lie deep inside of you.” – Steven Aitchison
9. Being by yourself is nice.
As much as it’s amazing to meet people during your solo travel adventure, take some time to explore by yourself too. To experience something without the burden of having to consider someone else is really the most liberating thing.
As much as exploring Rome with a hostel friend was fun, traipsing through the crowds at the Vatican was really not my idea of a good time.
Looking back, I should have just told her to go ahead, I’d see her back at the hostel. I could have been sipping cappuccino, while contemplating the beautiful sounds of the Roman traffic. Here are a few simple ways to enjoy travelling alone.
“I urge you; go find buildings and mountains and oceans to swallow you whole. They will save you, in a way nothing else can.” – Christopher Poindexter
10. Treating yourself is important.
Never forget you are there to enjoy what the world has to offer. While money can be tight, it’s important to make yourself feel loved during solo travel. Book a place to stay with good ratings and do not make yourself stay in a scuzzy 10 bedded dorm if it will make you feel vulnerable.
Order that three course meal. With wine. Eat plenty of ice cream. And most importantly, remember that the only person you have to please on a solo trip is yourself.
“Travel brings power and love back into your life.” – Rumi
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