Most people travel with a buddy or with a group but unlike them, I prefer traveling solo. When I first started this hobby of going to places for the first time on my own, my family especially my friends and co-workers went crazy and bombarded me with loads of questions like “Oh my gosh! Are you serious?!” or “Aren’t you afraid? You don’t know anyone there. Where will you… How will you…” so on and so forth. They display doubts, worries and awe. It is a foreign idea in my circle to travel alone. None of my friends do that.
After traveling alone in several places, I have gathered few things and general tips which might help if you are contemplating on doing what I do or just stick to your group of friends or a colleague next to your office cubicle to go on a weekend getaway.
Why You Should Do It…
- You will develop confidence and a sense of survival. As you go along, you will find yourself in different situations you’ve never encountered before which require you to be confident enough to make decisions and react quickly as you cannot depend on anyone. It’s a completely different adventure all along!
- You create your own pace. You can go wherever you want, whenever you want, stay in a place for as long as you want, leave early or stay out late without worrying if your group can keep up. If you have planned your trip thoroughly without considering anyone, you’ll end up seeing and experiencing everything in your itinerary. Time is not wasted. Works for me.
- You will get out of your comfort zone. If you are an introvert or even if you’re not and you’re traveling alone, you have a big chance of mingling and talking to others, local or non-local. You’ll think of creative ways on how to enjoy your trip. You get to know them, their culture, activities, favorites, travel experiences. This is a good exercise for your listening and conversation skills. You exchange ideas with someone who probably lives miles away from your home or someone who is totally different from you. Most of the time this works since like you, they are also traveling to experience something different or they just like a warm and engaging conversation.
- If you’re really adventurous and will take risks to do the things that thrill you, solo travel is for you because you’ll get rid of your kill joy friends. Most of the adventure parts of a trip get cancelled or replaced by a new activity because your friends think that it’s like a death defying stunt, which they cannot and will not do, ever. Or maybe it’s just me?
- It’s easier to squeeze in crowds during festivals, parades or street parties. You will not worry because you’re alone! When you get lost, you’re lost and that’s it. You just have to find your way back all by yourself.
- Deciding where to eat is easy. This is based on my personal experience. If you are with a group, you should first get the consensus of everyone on almost everything especially where to dine. Majority wins. It is almost always the rule. You can dine anywhere without wasting time arguing where to go.
- Solo traveling is perfect in finding serene moments with nature. It is a good opportunity to meditate and just enjoy the scenic spots.
Why It’s a Bit Awkward…
- When traveling alone, everything is pricey from the food to your hotel, arranged transportations, taxi fare and individual tour packages. In short, you are shouldering all the expenses in your entire trip so be sure you have saved enough before heading out the door.
TIP: Get a lot of research before leaving. Make sure to get the best hotel deals. Haggle with service providers to lessen your expense. Hook up with fellow travelers who also travel alone or in a small group so you can divide your total cost equally. This applies to tour packages and arranged transportation.
- Nobody’s going to take that picture perfect smile of yours with that jaw dropping backdrop behind you unless you are a selfie addict and you are satisfied with photos with your face occupying almost the entire frame. Thanks to monopods which are very popular today.
TIP: Smile and don’t be shy to say hello to locals, tourists or anyone you see. Ask them politely if they can take a picture of you. Everyone I asked was willing and happy to do it for me. J
- You’re on your own. You don’t have anyone to share the fun with, exchange impressions and ideas with, help you out with that heavy bag or watch the table, your chair or your personal belongings for you when you have to get additional order or go to the comfort room.
TIP: Just smile. Ask the one seated beside you if he/she can watch over your spot while you’re gone. Never leave your stuffs with anyone. Mingle with other travelers. You might find a new friend.
- When you get sick, which happens rarely especially when you are traveling locally or only for a few days, help and comfort of someone is not like an instant coffee. Make sure you have useful kits to use during emergencies. Refer to my article What’s in my Backpack for more details.
These are only a few of the things I realized when traveling alone. If you like this idea, why not try it and leave all your worries behind. It is an experience that will teach you a lot of things and makes you value everything around you.