Always wanted to try hit the road alone? Solo travel is one of the most empowering adventures we can ever undertake. However, it isn’t all sunshine and roses every day, and sometimes travelling solo can take its toll. But does that mean you shouldn’t go travelling alone at all? Hell no! Solo travel expert Claire from Tales of a Backpacker opens up about some of the great and not so great things that come with solo travel, so you know what to expect on your first solo adventure.
FIVE HIGHS OF SOLO TRAVEL
MEETING NEW PEOPLE
Travelling on your own means you are much more likely to talk to ‘strangers’ than you would do if you had a friend or partner travelling with you. People in couples or groups tend to keep much more to themselves, so when you are alone you are opening yourself up to a whole new world of potential friendships. The best thing? These friends are probably from all over the world, so you can arrange a future trip to go and visit them!
Once you’ve met some friends, you might decide to travel with them, so you won’t really be alone at all. However, don’t rely on travelling with someone, as you lose out on all of the awesome pros of solo travel!
Milan Duomo Cathedral
Having the freedom to do whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it is truly liberating. No more compromise. Want to stay in all day and chill out without someone nagging you to leave the hostel? Want to visit every single museum you can find without someone moaning that they’re tired? No matter what you feel like doing, you can do it! You get to choose exactly what your itinerary will be, and if you want to change it right at the last minute then go ahead.
Climbing the Rock in Guatape, Colombia
TRYING NEW EXPERIENCES
Solo travel really pushes you out of your comfort zone, so you might find that you are more open to trying even more new experiences. Once you’re free from all the rules you had to follow at home, you’ll discover you are braver than you ever felt before. Any new experience that comes along you’re much more likely to grab it with both hands. Considering a cooking class? Why not!? Scuba diving? Sure! The world is your oyster.
Diving in Mexico
PEOPLE ARE NICER TO YOU
I genuinely think that people are much nicer to solo travellers than they are to groups or couples. Especially for solo female travellers, many people you meet will go out of their way to be friendly or to help you if you need something. Solo travellers seem to bring out the best in people, and I have never worried about getting help when I needed it. Of course, not everyone you meet will be nice as pie, but generally speaking people want to look after you!
Sunset in Rio de Janeiro
YOU WILL LEARN MORE ABOUT YOURSELF
Having more time to yourself gives you the chance to reflect on what you are really like as a person now you are free from the usual pressures and responsibilities of your ‘normal’ life. Maybe you thought you liked to get up early because that’s what you’ve always done – but travelling alone you might discover you love to have a lie-in! OK, that’s a pretty stupid example but hopefully, you get my point. You have time to really get to know what makes you tick, so listen to yourself for a change, not other people. You’re running the show!
Solo travel isn’t always easy, and it isn’t for everyone – but give it a try. Choosing to travel alone has made me a stronger, more well-rounded person as I continually meet new people and challenge my opinions and pre-conceptions. Travel makes us better people, so you owe it to yourself to explore the world!
FIVE LOWS OF SOLO TRAVEL
This is one of my biggest bugbears about solo travel, which often affects the price of group tours and cruise travel. Surely this is discriminating against solo travellers? Why should we pay more than our coupled-up counterparts? Should having a partner mean discounted travel? I don’t think so! Luckily, more tour companies are realising that solo travellers are growing in numbers, and some are designing tours specifically for solo travellers, with no single supplement in sight!
The Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland
For some reason, eating alone is something that many of us dread. Eating a meal is supposed to be a sociable affair, lingering over a dessert and a glass of wine, savouring every moment with your friends, family and loved ones. However, as solo travellers we don’t get to enjoy the social side of eating, often preferring to grab whatever we can and eat a takeaway in the safety of our own rooms.
But don’t let a fear of eating alone stop you from enjoying the local cuisine wherever you are. Food is such an important part of the culture and experience when you’re travelling, so be brave and take the plunge - everyone else is too busy looking at their phones to care about what you’re doing anyway! Or if you’re staying in a hostel, why not ask your roommate to join you for dinner?
Solo travel isn’t for everyone, and some people can struggle when they feel they have no one to talk to. To combat loneliness, find simple, fun things to do to take your mind off being alone like going for a walk, reading a book, or even watching a film on Netflix. However, if you feel lonely then the best thing to do is find people to talk to, so get out there and start chatting – you’ll have new friends in no time!
FAMILY & FRIENDS TELLING YOU IT’S DANGEROUS
Many people believe that solo travel is more dangerous than travelling with someone else, but I don’t believe that is true. No-one worries about going to the supermarket alone, driving to visit a friend alone – why should travel in a different country be any different? Solo travel can be daunting though, so this is when you need the support of your family and friends, not having them put a downer on your fabulous adventure. Explain that this is something you’re really excited about and that they should support you, and hopefully, once they’ve realised what your solo trip means to you, they’ll have your back.
HAVING NO-ONE TO LOOK AFTER YOUR STUFF WHEN YOU GO TO THE LOO
This might sound trivial but think about it. You’re at the airport and found a seat at the gate while you wait for your flight, but now you need to pee. Which means you have to take ALL of your luggage with you and try and fit it inside a tiny cubicle while you do your business. Inevitably you will get something wet as you wash your hands (you really don’t want to put your coat on the toilet floor), and of course, when you get back someone has taken your seat. Typical. No solutions for this one I’m afraid, just an annoyance you’ll learn to live with!
Natural Swimming Holes in Colombia
Article & Photography by Claire Sturzaker Claire is a solo traveller and backpacker, originally from the UK but usually found abroad. Her blog Tales of a Backpacker is designed for travellers on a budget who are willing to splurge on amazing experiences. Aiming to seek out the best food, drink & experiences in a destination without breaking the bank, she loves to share stories, tips and real advice to inspire others to travel. You can follow her adventures on Instagram , Facebook & Twitter .