The first question I usually get from people when I mention solo travel is, “won’t you get lonely?”. Let me start off by saying that I don’t think solo travel is for everyone. However, if you consider yourself a fairly independent and adventurous person, there is no reason why solo travel shouldn’t be an enjoyable experience.
To be honest, solo travel was never something I thought I’d do. The idea first came to me when I had returned from studying abroad in London back in 2010. Ever since I was a young girl, I could remember having the travel bug. However, I was seriously suffering from this bug after returning from my study abroad program. I was desperate to plan my next trip and scrambling to figure out who would join me. I basically grew impatient trying to convince my friends to commit to travel plans so I just decided to jet off on my own! It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
The Benefits of Solo Travel
Even though I was just re-visiting London, a city I had come to know quite well, I knew it was going to be a completely different experience on my own. It’s easy to listen to those people who tell you it isn’t safe to travel on your own, especially as a woman, or that you’ll get extremely lonely. I forced myself to look at it from a different perspective. I could go anywhere I wanted, perhaps waste an entire day in a museum if I felt like it. I could also pick whichever restaurant I wanted to eat at without taking a vote from my friends (who are mostly vegans and vegetarians!).
Coping With Loneliness
I’m only human and of course I was secretly scared about the loneliness, especially during the evenings since that’s when it usually ends up sinking in, right? Therefore, I made sure I had set plans for every evening I was there. During the days, I wandered wherever I wanted, but I was comforted knowing that my evenings were planned out. I ended up going on the London eye one night, seeing two shows (Phantom of the Opera and Billy Elliot), and meeting up with an old school friend for dinner on my last night. Most people I know also seem to have this fear of eating alone. I’ve never really cared about that, but if you’re concerned, bring something to read! I find that in big cities like London, you often see people eating alone, so it’s really not a big deal.
Meet With Other Solo Travellers
Another bonus about travelling alone is meeting other solo travellers! This is easier to do if you’re staying at some sort of youth Hostel, however, I’ve met several solo travellers while visiting certain attractions. I always seem to meet one when asking them to take my picture in front of some monument. It’s great because you feel this automatic bond since you have solo travelling in common. If you get on well, don’t be afraid to ask them what their plans are later on and perhaps you can meet up. Chances are, they are thinking the same thing. When in Rome, right?
Two Tips To Stay Safe
When it comes to safety, my two main tips are to plan ahead and be observant. Make sure you’re staying in a good location that’s close to some sort of public transportation, so you don’t have long walks alone to your hotel/hostel at night, which is especially important for female solo travellers. Once you have an idea of where you’re visiting throughout the day, just look up where these places are so you don’t end up completely lost and flustered.
Being observant is just as important, if not more. It’s the simple things like zipping up your purse, not stopping to talk to sketchy looking strangers advertising something, and being aware of who is sitting or walking near you. Obviously, be more on guard in super touristy areas since pickpockets target tourists. Look like you know what you’re doing, and you’ll be just fine!
Final Words of Encouragement
As for words of encouragement, PLEASE don’t sit around waiting for that perfect time to travel with your friends. People will always find a reason to not go somewhere. I know life is crazy and hectic, but don’t let it pass you by! We must take time to enjoy life and explore the world or we’ll become one of those old people with regrets that use phrases like “do it while you’re young, kids, or you’ll regret it.”
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If you’ve found this article useful, you should check out my blog for more travel-related wisdom. I want to encourage people to get out there and see the world. I want people to know that it is possible to have a five star trip on a budget. I want my blog to entertain, inspire, and guide people towards a lifetime of travel. Stop fantasizing about your dream trip and start making it happen.