What if you could just quit everything and leave?
A lot of people fantasize about ditching their current lives and starting somewhere else from 0. At the same time, not a lot of people dare to travel solo.
Travelling solo can give you a sense of freedom and adventure that you might be missing in your life, plus teach you new skills and allow you to meet new people. There’s no better way to improve as a person than to travel solo!
If you’re afraid of travelling by yourself for whatever reason, you aren’t alone. But if you’re here, reading this article, it means you want to change it and you definitely can. So let’s cut to the chase; learn how to travel alone and why.
Top Reasons Why Travelling Solo is Great
Like most things in life, travelling solo gives you valuable lessons that can change your life. Here’s why travelling by yourself is something everyone should try at least once in their lives:
1. It increases your confidence
Visiting an unfamiliar environment on your own can be nerve-wracking but once you’ve done it, you’ll realize how much it improved your confidence and trust in your own decisions. You might also become better at navigating social situations.
2. You’ll become more resourceful
When you travel alone, you can only depend on yourself so you’ll learn how to be more independent, recognize and attend to your needs and make important decisions.
3. You’ll learn more about yourself
Travelling by yourself is challenging in many ways and so it can help you improve as a person in many ways too. When you face obstacles, you’ll get to learn about your strengths and weaknesses and when you get to know people from different walks of life, you might find out what your core values are.
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4. You learn problem-solving
Solving a problem in an unfamiliar environment is challenging but can help you become better at it and allow you to find a solution faster when you’re faced with a challenge you already know.
5. You broaden your horizons
If you never travel alone, you might tend to see things from just your own perspective. Travelling involves meeting people who might face different struggles from your own and immersing yourself in a different culture, which expands your view.
6. It can make you happier
Travelling is an opportunity to put your feet up and treat yourself to nice food and do things you enjoy. Plus, the sense of accomplishment you get when you travel alone boosts your mood.
What You Should Remember About When Travelling Solo
Travelling solo is a great opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and create amazing memories but if you’re new to it, you might not know what to do to make the best out of your trip. Here are a few tips that will help you turn your solo vacation into something unforgettable and safe:
1. Make connections
We’re all social creatures to some extent so travelling without any human contact could make your solo trip incomplete. Building connections with others can be extremely rewarding as it gives you mental support and ever more so if you’re exploring a foreign country. Making friends with locals and other travellers is a great way to make sure that you have someone to show you around and give you tips on what to look out for and how to navigate the area. So, be prepared to be social for your own sake and partly because most people who travel for fun enjoy getting to know other travellers and hearing their stories. If you’re staying at a hostel, remember to spend some time in common areas once in a while – don’t worry if you’re shy because sooner or later someone will approach you and invite you to join their group. You could also network on social media. There are plenty of Facebook groups where you can meet people who are already in the area or planning to travel there.
2. Immerse yourself in the culture
Travelling solo gives you the freedom to choose what to do and at your own pace. While visiting all the popular landmarks might be someone’s idea of the perfect vacation, it doesn’t necessarily have to be yours. Especially since visiting places filled with tourists might not be the best way to immerse yourself in the culture and really get to know the city. When you travel on your own, you should remember to have a break once in a while and simply let yourself walk through the streets and witness what the locals’ life is like.
3. Research your destination
When you travel solo, you have to rely on yourself to keep yourself safe and make sure that your solo trip goes smoothly. So before you set off, research your destination in detail. Learn about the place and its law because a seemingly silly mistake can get you in trouble (for example, buying and selling chewing gum is illegal in Singapore and littering is taken very seriously). Additionally, make sure that you learn the basics of the language. While nowadays many if not most people can communicate in English, it’s always good to know the most common phrases in the local language in case you run into someone who happens to speak no English. Plus, making an effort to fit in when you visit a foreign country is always appreciated. Another important thing is making sure that it’s easy to access wi-fi in the place you’re going to. If a free Internet connection is hard to find, you might have to consider getting a foreign SIM card.
4. Check the reviews
Staying at a hostel is a cheap way to travel and is recommended if you want to be sociable. However, the quality of hostels might make or break your solo trip, which is why it’s important to research them before you book a bed. Reviews don’t lie – if one person mentions bed bugs, trust me, you don’t want to take your chances just because it’s the most affordable option. And while hostels might not be the cleanest in some countries, you don’t want to worry about catching a disease during your stay so choose wisely. The same rules apply to restaurants – you don’t want to have your trip ruined by food poisoning so always remember to check what other people have to say about their experiences.
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5. Pack wisely and light
The idea behind travelling solo is often to be as flexible as possible and that includes travelling light. It might be tempting to pack your best outfits so that you can look good in your holiday photos but moving around with a big suitcase isn’t convenient and might attract too much unwanted attention when you’re in a hostel (not to mention that it will be too big to be placed in a locker). If you can, opt for a big backpack that is easy to carry with you everywhere and look for hostels that offer laundry services.
6. Keep safe
Travelling solo is all about embracing the YOLO culture but within reason. If you want to party, you should but taking drugs or accepting alcohol with strangers isn’t the best idea. Just because you’re on a vacation doesn’t mean that the risks that exist back home cease to exist there. On the contrary, you should be extra careful especially as a female traveller, and remember that your safety comes first. It’s also a good idea to let someone you trust like your friend or family know where you’re going and how long you’re staying there for. If anything goes wrong and they don’t hear from you for a while, they’ll be the first ones to raise an alarm and you’ll feel safer knowing someone looks out for you.
7. Be open to spontaneity
Forget a strict schedule and choose the top few places you must visit, then go with the flow. You might be sad about not visiting the most popular landmark but there are plenty of photos and videos about it online and frankly, in most cases, you’re not missing out much as they’re overcrowded with tourists. On the other hand, the only way to experience social life in a foreign country is to live it so don’t be afraid to ditch your plans to do something spontaneous.
8. Document your stay
If you have a smartphone, don’t forget to use it. While some might say that documenting your trip prevents you from living in the moment, after you’ve come back home, these snippets are all you have left. So make sure you take as many photos and videos as you can – it will also be fun to revisit your solo trip at home with your friends and family (especially if your loved ones were worried about you going away on your own). You can also print them and make a photo album.
9. Keep a journal
If you struggle to appreciate the present, travelling solo is the best time to learn how to live in the moment. Document your stay by keeping a journal where you talk about your day, your thoughts, feelings and anything you can think of. This isn’t just a great way to feel grounded but also a way to encourage you to think more positively. If you tend to struggle with negative thoughts, you can also make sure you list a few things you’re grateful for every day. But not pressure, don’t force yourself to write when you don’t feel like it, just remember to give yourself the permission to pay attention to your thoughts whenever you can.
10. Get out of your comfort zone
What’s one thing that you’ve always wanted to try but never had the courage to? Another great thing about travelling solo is that it fills you with adrenaline that encourages you to get out of your comfort zone. It’s the best opportunity to tick some positions off your Bucket List and they don’t even have to be too extreme to count. Doing that one thing that scares you in a foreign country might also be easier because no one knows you there and once you leave, that memory doesn’t have to leave with you. So don’t be afraid to be embarrassed or to fail – ask a stranger out, go to a restaurant on your own, do bungee jumping or whatever sounds challenging enough.
11. Try new food
Whether you’re a foodie or not, trying new food when you’re travelling on your own is a must. if it turns out that you don’t like what you ordered, at least you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and you won’t have to explain to your friends and family why you can’t describe what the local cuisine is like. Even if you’re a picky eater, every country has at least one dish that you can enjoy so try to explore the dining scene as much as you can.
12. Sort out the logistics
This advice applies to all types of travelling but is even more important when you travel solo because if you make a mistake, you’ll be the one that has to solve it. So make sure that you know your budget and how to stay within it, buy the right travel insurance (you don’t want to miss out on your solo trip just because your flight gets cancelled), consider getting a weekly transport pass and make sure you have all the right documents before booking your vacation.
13. Treat yourself
And lastly, don’t forget to treat yourself when you travel alone. Pamper yourself in the evenings and have a glass of wine or eat local dessert. If you feel lazy, don’t pressure yourself to explore the city and stay in your room to read a book instead. Do whatever feels right for your body and soul so that you can come back fully rested and with no regrets.
Learn more about contributor, Joanna Cakala