WARNING: May Be Addictive – Catching the Solo Travel Bug!
I’ve caught it…it’s the only bug I’m happy and willing to catch and it is the the travel bug – more specifically the solo travel bug and goodness is it addictive.
In my lifetime I have explored and discovered more places on my own than I have with company. I know what you’re thinking, solo travel is either for the introvert not looking for company or for the lonely looking for company…and I am neither. I have plenty of people to holiday with but the truth is I prefer travelling alone, and as a socialite there must be some reason that I’ve fallen in love with it.
Beware, this travel story will have some insane cringy-ness relating to all things ‘finding myself’ – so prepare yourself for some inspirational pictures and soppy travel quotes, we all love them deep down!
Before going travelling alone I was asked so many questions, and I asked a lot of questions too. I wondered where the best place to travel alone was, and what I would do there and what solo travel actually does for you. So I’ve compiled my Top 5’s to Solo Travel: Top 5 Questions, Top 5 Tips and Top 3 Destinations for Solo Travel for all those adventurous travelers out there.
Top 5 Questions about Solo Travel:
What is Solo Travel?
So many people ask me this and then follow up with ‘why would you want to?’ but I’ll get to the second part of that question in a second. To start off on a basic level, solo travel is what it says on the tin. Just me and the big wide world ahead of me.
Solo – “a thing done by one person unaccompanied.” (aka me, a lone ranger, an independent explorer). Travel – “make a journey, typically of some length” (aka my trips, adventurers and explorations).
Why would you Solo Travel?
Well, my first experience of travelling solo was when I took a year out to travel after my education all finished. A friend agreed to join me for the whole year but ended up having to cut his trip short. I already had all return flights, accommodation and travel booked so I decided that I’d just finish the trip on my own – after 7 months of travelling with someone I thought I might be used to it and enjoy the alone time. It turns out that that was exactly the case, I loved it more than I thought I would! I loved it so much that I decided to keep travelling alone. This meant weekends away during the year and months away in the summer.
And why? Solo travelling gave me the confidence and the passion to keep doing it over and over again. It made me feel more capable than ever before, and expanded my knowledge and aspirations for the future.
I have the absolute freedom to go wherever I wanted to go, no one else mattered and I didn’t have to wait for anyone.
As the quote says, I do not travel to escape my friends or family. I don’t make every single adventure during the year a solo trip because I enjoy the time spent with people exploring the world but I just get so much more out of the exploring I make myself sometimes. I’ve have become my own travel buddy, I decide when it is time to go home and also where I am going home from. There is no better feeling that being the captain of my own ship – and every once in a while that is exactly what you want.
How do you plan your first solo trip?
Well firstly I would suggest to travel somewhere where they speak your language – or a language you know. Your first trip should make you feel comfortable and happy. I researched online through posts like this to get the best tips and tricks, they are all so useful and you find out your own on the way. Throw caution to the wind and just go for it!
How do you find other solo travellers?
To some solo travellers this will be their main goal, to make international friends for life through travel and spending some time exploring with them. This requires a lot of confidence, and was definitely something I was interested in – it gave me the freedom of having friends and company to move from place to place, but I could also drop out whenever I wanted time on my own. I would suggest sleeping around different options from hostels to B&B’s and even homeshares – wherever a traveler lays their head is where they find a home (and other traveler friends). You’ll definitely have to do that awkward ‘scouting out’ to decide if they have friends or not, and if they WANT friends or not…either way you’ll get used to finding this out.
How do you survive travelling alone?
A bit dramatic but also entirely reasonable to ask. You’re away alone, maybe with a language barrier and all your belongings strapped to your body. On my first solo trip I was TERRIFIED of being pick-pocketed or mugged. To stop this, place yourself in areas that you know will be well-populated or places that are not a threat to be in. Research, research, research before you even think about travelling somewhere alone. Learn a few phrases in the language such as,
You will survive if you’re smart and think before you book.
Moving onto my…
Top 5 Tips to Solo Travel:
Choose your destination wisely
Choose your destination very carefully, no matter how adventurous you want to be there are definitely wordly limits you need to understand to keep yourself safe. When choosing a destination make sure to look at their customs and traditions to make sure you abide and stick by the customs of that country as to not offend anyone or get yourself in trouble.
Eat in Restaurants ALONE
Yep, the one thing you might dread. You might find it weird at the start, and feel like that poor old lonely person that your heart breaks for when you’re out eating with family or friends BUT it is so normal. You definitely shouldn’t avoid eating out and eating the traditional food in order to not be seen eating alone.
If you make a friend, keep them for as long as your trips cross over. Some people are what I like to call ‘solo traveller martyrs’, they will make the whole trip less fun because they feel like they have to do it alone. From previous experience some of the connections you make on these trips are invaluable for morale and also some of the best relationships you’ll ever form – not to forget also a place to visit and stay somewhere else in the world!
Collect memories not things
In your life how many trinkets have you purchased along the way on a family holiday and then in later years discarded them? Don’t let your mature travel become that way too! Take a cheaper old phone and a rubbish camera and get snap happy. These are memories you are collecting, memories with meaning not just some anklet from somewhere in Europe.
I collect postcards – a nice visual of where you were and you can write on the back some of your favourite and best moments.
For the sake of your mum and dad sitting at home, take some pictures and get them sent to your family when you get the chance (or get some wifi). This is the same person who used to get worried about when you walked to the corner shop on your own to get the bread…now you’re half way around the world on your own!
And finally (last but not least), these are some of my favourite solo travel trips – I’ll keep them brief here but will expand in further trips.
Top 3 Solo Travel Destinations:
No. 1: Germany
Oktoberfest is all I will say. This was my first proper solo travel experience – no one was there for the start, middle or end, it was all me. I met tourists from all over the world in both Germany and Munich, there for the Oktoberfest celebrations. It was an experience of culture, both for Oktoberfest but also the amazing tourist opportunities in Germany such as; Berlin Wall, German Spy Museum, Dachau Concentration Camp and Neuschwanstein Castle Tour!
No. 2: Bali
Isn’t this on everyone’s top travel lists? On this trip I played it completely by ear, by my knowledge I wasn’t there during a festival and I didn’t go with a preorganised group of solo-travelers. My own itinerary in every way. I decided to rent a scooter during my stay, it seemed like the most logical way to get around. I visited temples, as well as the volcanoes and hot springs – all in the one Bali sightseeing day trip. This was a great opportunity to meet other travelling groups and get involved with their adventures!
No.3: South Africa
This was somewhere I had always dreamed of going to, and these dreams were made a reality on a 10 day trip away. I booked a trip through a company for solo travelers called justyou. Everything was included in the package and plans were made for every single day – this was different for me because usually I organise my own trip but I thought for SA I should let someone else be the expert. Going on the South African Sun & Safari gave me enough freedom to roam but also learning so much along the way – just look at that amazing itinerary!
There you go, my complete rundown of Solo Travelling, I’m addicted and that’s okay with me! I can’t wait to document the rest of my trips and give travelers tips along the way – I’m somewhat an expert now on travelling alone…well according to my friends and family!
I am an adventurous sales consultant from America. I work so that I can travel around the world beyond the 50 states of the USA, but also in them. I really enjoy solo travel and suggest everyone try it at least once but I also love taking to the slopes with my friends.