Solo travel is becoming more and more popular and increasingly so for females. And for me, I think it’s a really great way to travel. But, of course it’s not without it’s challenges. I wanted to write a post on why I solo travel, how I solo travel, how I prepare for trips and the reality of solo travel. And hopefully if you are thinking about solo travel, this post will help!
“Travelling solo means getting to know the real you”
“I wondered why it was that places are so much lovelier when one is alone”
“To awaken alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world”
Let’s start with why I solo travel
This is a fairly simple and straightforward answer. I want to see the world. I’m single. I do have a lot of friends who I travel with and love travelling with. But sometimes, they don’t want to go to that destination. Or they don’t have enough money or time. For me that isn’t a reason to not go. So I go.
I think its safe to say I am addicted to travelling. I get itchy feet and a feeling of restlessness if it’s been to long since I was last on a plane. So I am not going to let the small matter of not having someone to go with stop me.
How I solo travel – part one
I think this is a really important one. There is a definite concept that “solo travel” needs to be heading off for months on end on an epic trip around the world. This definitely isn’t always the case and definitely doesn’t need to be the case.
Solo travel is solo travel however you embark upon it. So far I have solo travelled in two ways.
Firstly, and how I began my solo travel life, was on group travel tours. I had been in the same job for 8 years and had never really travelled. So I decided to take a sabbatical and headed off on a 9 week tour of South East Asia.
Read more about my South East Asia travels:
It was the first time I had been abroad alone, the first time I had had any experience of long term travel and my first time in Asia. So I decided the best thing for me was to join a group travel tour. I booked three tours, with some gaps in the middle.
It was the perfect way to begin my solo travel life. I had the comfort of travelling with people, but I also had the freedom to do what I want. I booked breaks between each tour. With these I spent time exploring on my own, relaxing and learning what I loved about travel.
It’s been a while since I joined a group travel tour as a solo traveller, but I am so excited to be going on one to Egypt and Jordan next year. After the tour finishes I have some days on my own. Again for me, the perfect mix.
If you’re interested in group travel tour, have a look at this post.
How I solo travel – part two
My past few solo trips have been in a more, lets say, low key style. As I said previously, solo travel doesn’t always have to be a big life changing journey. I have recently been indulging in a some long weekends and short breaks solo. And I have loved it.
They have been fairly spontaneous, or tagged on to work trips, and so it was just easier to go alone than try and find someone to go with.
How I prepare for solo trips
I think the key to this, is knowing yourself. Know your limitations and exactly what you need out of the trip. I am actually a fairly nervous traveller, I am very self conscious and often very unsure of myself. However, I do also enjoy my own company.
So, bearing both of these things in mind, I set about planning my trips. I know, given the chance, I would have a tendency to not push myself. So I make sure I have some things booked. Whether it be a lunch reservation, a ticket at an attraction or a complete day trip out from a city. It forces me to get out, to have to be somewhere for something at a certain time and have a structure for the day.
With each trip I do, I become more and more confident. More confident in my own ability, and more confident that I can do this. I am building up to bigger and better trips. But I do know my limits. So for some of the more, let’s say, risky destinations I think I will often revert back to my fail safe and sure fire way of travelling. Group travel tours.
I would quite confidently solo travel around South East Asia now. However, back when I did go I didn’t know this about myself. I booked a style of I trip I knew I could work with and that would work for me. And I think that is the key to solo travel.
How to plan your solo travel
I think the main thing to take from this post, is know your own limits. Know what you can handle. The first trip doesn’t have to be a big culture shock. If you are thinking about solo travel and are unsure about it, start small. Maybe something as simple as taking a day trip on your own.
Build up to the big trips you want to take and learn bit by bit. The more you solo travel, the more you know what you are capable of.
Likewise with accommodation, start with what you know you are comfortable with. My first experience of hostels was a private room. More expensive? Sure. But I wasn’t sure of what to expect. Now I am more than happy to share a room, but I like to stick to 4 beds or less. If hostel life isn’t for you, book a hotel! On a long weekend trip somewhere, you probably won’t get lonely for a couple of days.
If you are worried about being on your own, then consider a hostel. But also consider booking onto a day trip or a free walking tour. They are often packed with other travellers who want to meet new people.
If public transport is a big worry, then book accommodation nearer the centre of a city. It might be more expensive, but it means you will feel more comfortable with your trip.
Researching your trip
I guess this is an extension of the above. But I spend a lot of time researching what I want to see and where I want to go. I use other bloggers guides, and also extensively peruse the Lonely Planet website. Before I go I have a list of the places I want to see, broken down into days.
When you’re on your own, I find you tend to see sights a lot quicker. I guess it’s the not stopping to chat about what you are seeing. By having a rough guide of what I want to see in a day, it means I’m not wandering around at a complete lose end.
Find some restaurants you want to eat in as well. It helps frame the day! And finally, it’s totally fine to eat on your own. I really enjoy it!
I think this is a concern of a lot of people when they embark on a solo trip. All I can say here, is use your common sense. Which is necessarily exclusive to solo travel. I, again, always trust my own instincts. I stick to well lit places, I don’t flash my belongings around and I judge all the situations.
If you are considering somewhere a little less statistically safe, this is when I would consider day trips or a group travel tour.
Finally, I always carry a second purse, with a little bit of cash in it. If anyone then demands I had my purse over, I can give them this rather than my actual one!
Reality of solo travel
I am actually very positive about solo travel. It can be tough, but I am so proud of myself for going on the trips I have on my own.
There have been times when I have had to give myself a serious talking to. I vividly remember this only my recent trip to Brussels. I was exhausted, had injured my ankle and just couldn’t seem to muster the energy to leave the hostel and face the city alone. But it was Brussels! It was Europe, and I realised I was being pathetic.
There are of course the low points. I had my entire savings skimmed from my card in Vietnam. I absolutely felt like giving up. But after multiple phone calls to the bank, and also to my mum, I got my money back. Now it’s a story to tell.
I think the biggest thing for me, is how I proud I feel of myself. And how I know I can take on any challenge now. I have become so much more confident through travelling. I know I said I was a nervous traveller, but honestly you should see how far I have come!
Suggestions on destinations for solo travel
If you are looking for some first destinations to consider for solo travel, I recommend having a look at:
- New Zealand
So, my thoughts on what solo travel means for me. Have you solo travelled? Would you? How do you feel about it?
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