No this post isn’t an advertisement for a Nike ad, but they do have a good point.
When it comes to traveling solo, I’d encourage you to take their advice and just do it!
One of the main reasons people refrain from traveling isn’t just because they don’t have the money for it, it’s because they have no one to go with!
I’m sure you’ve even thought to yourself at some stage, ‘Oh I’d love to go to *insert amazing destination here* but I have no one to go with so I guess I won’t’
Don’t let a lack of having a travel buddy stop you from exploring the world!!!
Sometimes it’s even more fun when you go by yourself because you end up meeting so many more people than you would have if you went with a friend.
I found my first solo travel experience really made me grow as a person. I know that sounds really airy fairy and a bit lame, but it honestly made me realize how at the end of the day all I have to rely on is myself for my own happiness.
If I wanted to make friends, I had to just go up and talk to people, not rely on someone else introducing me.
If I wanted to go and do an Alcatraz Tour in San Francisco or go shopping in Time Square, I didn’t have to wait around for someone to agree to come with me, I just went and did it! No time restrictions, just me and my own decisions 🙂
Traveling solo pushes you outside of your comfort zone. It can be scary and downright terrifying for some people and if this is the case, hopefully I can reassure you with a little bit of advice and past travel knowledge.
You Don’t Think It’s Safe
You may have read too many Daily Mail articles on young female travelers getting into bad situations overseas. I’m not going to lie, it does happen! Sometimes you can’t avoid stuff getting stolen or your ship capsizing (bit dramatic I know) However, the chances are still low of anything terrible happening to you overseas if you’re smart and aware!
I have people from home tell me all the time “Oh be careful when you go to Thailand/Bali/Vietnam etc, you’ll be jailed for drugs in your bag” or “Don’t leave anything valuable in your room because it’ll all get stolen!”
This actually irritates me when I hear people say stuff like that. Half the time, these people haven’t even been to the countries they’re trying to give advice about. They’ve just read a bad headline in the paper and so think they’re an expert on Travel Safety. I live in New Zealand which is one of the safest countries in the world, yet foreign drivers are killed on our roads at least every few months. Not to mention, I’m sure backpackers over here have had their stuff stolen. I’ll admit it’s more common in certain countries compared to others but if people stopped coming to New Zealand just because they knew someone who got robbed here, then they’d be missing out on one of the most beautiful countries in the world!
If you’re worried about drugs being planted in your bag. Make sure you thoroughly search your bag before you leave and before you come back home. Get locks on all the zippers and even cable ties if you’re super concerned. The harder a bag looks to get into, the more likely someone won’t be bothered to tamper with it.
I never bother to plastic wrap my suitcases like you see some people do, it’s so easy for someone to just cut through all the cling-film and re-film it up that I’m too cheap to get it done. However, there is always that option at some airports.
If you have a small day bag, keep it close to you at all times. Use it as a pillow, wear it on your front, chuck a small padlock through the zipper it if you’re wearing it on your back during the day. These little things will keep your valuables safer.
When you’re at your hotel/hostel, some provide you with a safe you can put your passport, camera etc in. If you’re still worried about your stuff getting stolen, get one of those locks that have a wire with it so you can put your stuff in a closet and thread the wires through the door handles. I never keep all my cash in one place if I’m carrying money. I may leave some in my wallet, some in a safe, some in a sock in my bag. If you put it somewhere random, that’s usually where people WONT look. If I was robbing someone, I wouldn’t even think to look in the pocket of a PJ bottom at the bottom of someones bag. (Not saying that’s where I put my cash but just an idea 🙂 )
When I travel, I try my hardest not to look like a tourist. When you’re walking around with your camera around your neck, map in one hand and fanny pack around your waist, you’re just asking to be mugged!
Also – no one wears fanny packs anymore…
You Don’t Think You’ll Meet Anyone
I met people on my first solo over-seas flight.
When I went to America last year, I sat next to a couple who could tell how nervous I was for my big journey. They talked to me and told me what to expect when I got to the states and also made sure I went in the right direction when we landed.
Waiting in line at Immigration into the USA, I met a girl from Australia who was there for a Hen’s do. I then talked with the guy next to me flying from LA – SFO about life in San Fran and then met a couple on a day tour the next day!
You honestly end up meeting so many people. And until you travel by yourself, you won’t notice how many people are doing it on their own too!
When you’re by yourself, you actually make an effort. You’re not caught up hanging with your friend discussing what you’re going to do the next day, you’re chilling in the Hostel common room or attending a Pub Crawl with all these new faces instead.
The best advice I can give if you’re worried about not making any friends is to stay in Hostel dorm rooms. Refer back to my post on Hostels if you’ve never stayed in one before.
Hostels are full of solo travelers and if you find a good one they’ll put on events like ‘comedy nights’, ‘beach days’ or ‘group walks’ for more chances to meet people. Just think – when you see someone by themselves, you’re much more conscious to go up and talk to them so the same thing will happen for you.
What If I Get Sick?
You’re a big girl (or guy) you can take care of yourself. If you’re staying at a hostel or hotel, let the reception know and they’ll be able to provide you with medical information or call an ambulance if you really need it.
Every country has a hospital and there’s always pharmacies around.
If you’re starting to come down with something, just let your parents or someone you regularly talk to back home know so they can check on you every day.
When you’re in a non-speaking country sometimes it can be difficult to explain to a pharmacist what you want. I always just end up google translating it and showing the Pharmacists what I mean on my phone.
I Don’t Want To Eat By Myself
Bring a book. Take your phone with you and play some Candy Crush.
I can guarantee you that when you’re traveling by yourself you’ll have to eat alone at some point. Whether it be at McDonalds at the Airport or at a nice cafe in Paris.
Try and sit near a window so you can people watch 🙂
Everyone On My Tour Will Be Traveling In Pairs
No they won’t!!!
I can pretty much guarantee you that there will be other solo travelers on a trip. If you’re doing a Contiki, G Adventures or Top Deck Tour there’s an almost certainty that you won’t be the only one in it on your own.
The Airport Process Is Too Confusing
If you’re genuinely worried about getting to the airport, finding your right flight and getting your bags all sorted. Get a Travel Agent to write it all out for you.
Book a shuttle or order a taxi the day before you leave (Or even a few days before) so you know that you have a guaranteed ride to the Airport. Your travel agent can help you book Airport Transfers.
Once you’re at the Airport, just head to the check-in desk for your appropriate Airline. There will always be Airport staff around to help you. If you don’t know what gate you’re meant to be at, just ask! The Customer Service Clerk will give you your tickets and take your bags for you. Just make sure you pop a name tag on them before you hand them over.
If you have any questions about the flight, how long it’s going to be or where to go for immigration, just ask at the Flight Check-In desk. If they don’t know, a Flight Attendant on your flight will know. It’s really so simple!
Plus, if you make a mistake you’ll only learn for next time.
And finally…why you should go solo…
Apart from meeting new people from all walks of life, you’ll discover places that YOU want to discover. You’ll do things that YOU want to do. You don’t need to check with someone every hour of the day. You don’t need to even plan what to do the next day, you can just wing it. If you want to sleep in, sleep in!
If you want to jump from one club to the next with your new hostel friends and get back at 4am, you can!
There’s so much freedom involved when you’re by yourself.
When no one knows who you are. You can be exactly who you want to be. If you’re a quiet little crumb back home, make a vow to yourself to say hi to every person you bump into at your hotel or hostel.
If you want a break from wearing make-up and doing your hair perfectly every day, just do it. Roll out of bed, wash your face and explore the world.
You’ll learn to enjoy your own company and find out what you actually like and don’t like doing. Sometimes we surround ourselves with people who enjoy doing certain things and then we just end up doing it too because it’s easier.
I always say to people when they’ve just broken up with their significant other (for whatever reason) to just go and travel!
If it was a relationship you’re continually going back and forth from, traveling by yourself will open up your eyes to everything else in the world. We tend to loose ourselves when we’re in a relationship so traveling is a great way to get your independence back and realize that YES we CAN actually survive without another person.
Not to mention, what an interesting individual you’ll become to the next person you date! There’s nothing sexier than a strong, independent woman/man who goes after what she wants.
The only thing I wish I’d done differently when I traveled solo was buy a one-way-ticket. Once you get the travel bug, I can hand-on-heart say that it never leaves you.