Back in September 2016, I went on my first solo trip to Stockholm. I can tell you honestly, it wasn’t fun. Even though it was only 4 nights trip, I was terrified, lonely, sad, felt like the biggest loser who doesn’t have any friends and has to travel solo.
I will always remember the moment I went out to eat for the first time, after 2 days of surviving on supermarket food. It was pretty bad. I felt embarrassed eating on my own, couldn’t look up from my plate and made sure to finish my food as quickly as possible, so I can go back to my dorm and hide from the outside world. And yet, I resisted and decided to carry on. Then I went to Barcelona for a couple of nights, to Denmark, did several road trips in Iceland, went to New Zealand for almost a year, Melbourne, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam… all on my own and I would’t change a thing. It’s not always easy, but that’s what makes solo traveling so interesting and enriching.
“I travel solo for the challenge of learning things on my own! When I’am alone, I get to figure out what I enjoy without any other direct influences around me. It’s empowering, inspiring, and educational all at once!”
Kelso, Washington, D.C.
“What I like about solo traveling is that you’re forced to go out there on your own and therefore forced into more interesting and novel situations and more importantly outside of your comfort zone. Basically a large part of the reason I decided to go solo is that it is a greater challenge. Bigger leap outside my comfort zone. Furthermore, you are not stuck to a certain someone the entire time and you have more flexibility. “
Pros and cons of solo traveling
- Meeting new people
While traveling solo, you just can’t go too long without talking to anyone, so soon, you’ll start talking to strangers in your hostel dorm, on a bus or train, in a restaurant, (all locals, expats, travelers) and make new friendships.
For me personally, being independent is extremely important, especially on my journeys. I easily start to feel guilty for taking too much time, being too slow, too fast, too boring, too quiet… but I also get irritated for waiting too long, doing this and that etc., so traveling with a buddy often becomes quickly a struggle. Solo, you can just do whatever you want and how you want.
One can also decide who to spend their time with. There’s no such a thing as being fed up with your travel buddy, but sticking with them just because you don’t want to hurt them. Solo traveling makes relationships a lot easier. Trust me.
You meet so many different people while traveling the world and sometimes you really like someone and feel like spending more time with them. That often leads to a change of plans which would be a lot harder if you had a buddy with you. Honestly, I do this all the time and I love it. Traveling solo doesn’t mean you are alone all the time. The same applies for your destinations. A stranger tells you about this amazing place you shall not miss and so you just go there. No need to persuade anyone.
- Connecting to your inner self
When there is no one to talk to and you finally put your phone away, you think, watch people walking by, imagine anything you like which helps to get to know yourself better. There is just you and your thoughts. It is very eye and mind opening.
“I fell in love with the idea of being by myself. I got the freedom to do and to be whoever I want. And more important, I have the full responsibility of my life and decisions – there is only me to blame or praise.”
It gets lonely sometimes. We all know it, it happens to everyone, there’s nothing wrong about it, we just gotta hold on tight and it will eventually pass. And if not, you can always go home or go to see a friend for a bit 🙂
Generally speaking, traveling solo might be more expensive than traveling in a couple or a group. Splitting the cost of a private room, taxi, lunch, renting a car or a motorbike etc. makes a difference. Though, there is always a way around it, in case you are on a tight budget.
“I just don’t feel like it today. I can do it tomorrow.” This thought goes through my mind way too often. No motivation has always been a big problem in all aspects of my life and I hope that’s not your case. We all are different and there’s, of course, no universal solution for everyone. What helps me a lot is music. It might not force me to stick to a plan I made, but it makes me less stressed about it, therefore more likely to do it.
Traveling solo isn’t dangerous, but as a singleton you are potentially an easier target. Don’t get me wrong though, I’ve never felt unsafe on my travels. It’s good to keep your eyes open and use common sense.
“I travel alone, because I am a whole person. I have everything I need in myself and like to be alone to perceive all the magic in this world… I travel solo to perceive all things in clarity, without shadows of other influences. I need my own space and light to experience the purity of life. I am a courageous being, I trust in myself and this planet to find my way, on my path alone, to experience the majestic to the abysmal with the intent to learn from everything.”
Tips and tricks for newbies solo travelers
If you are new to solo traveling and in need of some company, stick to the hostels. There’s no better place to socialize than your dorm or common area. You will soon find out, that there are many people in the same situation as you. Don’t be afraid to talk to people, most of the folks around you will be happy to share their time, their experience, give you some advice or a bit of encouragement.
We all use Facebook, right? There are groups for everything. Either you are looking for someone to hang out with, travel buddy, tips, tours or another destination. It is all out there. Do you know the feature “Events” on Facebook? It works great for meeting likeminded people!
Interact with locals. There might be a great language barrier but it’s fun and it’s interesting. What’s the point of traveling to another country if you don’t get a hint of the local life. Go out and sooner or later people will start approaching you themselves. Accept that lunch invitation, talk to the child who can say just a few phrases in English, return the big smile to the old lady selling shoes.
Be open to everything that live brings in your way.
Still unsure if you should travel solo or not? Flick me a message or leave a comment, I’ll be happy to answer all your questions.