Traveling alone is one of the craziest and greatest experience you’ll ever get. It really awakes something in you. It gives you a certain perspective; that's impossible to get any other way. And it’s definitely something I recommend wether you’re doing it in your twenties or in your fifties really.
It obviously has a lot of pros and cons coming with it, but trust a solo traveler. The good outweighs the bad in this case. If you’re on this page it means you’re thinking about it. Maybe it’s something that’s always been on your bucket list, or maybe it’s just something you find yourself into because your friends aren’t as wild as you. Or they want to go somewhere else and you don’t feel like shrinking your plans. It’s okay, this article is here for you, and I’ll take you on the path of the magical solo travels.
Traveling alone must come from you. You definitely shouldn’t be doing it because you’re supposed to, and that works in general. It is a life changing experience, it gives you something genuine and new. It definitely won’t leave you the same as you were when you left. Now you’re a grown up! You’ve prepared your backpack (I’ll talk about that in the third point) you booked that flight, and now it’s just you. You and the rest of the world.
Excitement is running in your blood. You’re full of adrenaline you’ll feel like you have the world in the palm of your own hands. I mean you can go wherever you want, you can do whatever you want. It’s crazy how you start to truly appreciate freedom only in these cases, and you’ll quickly forget all the cons.
When you’re alone you’re an easy prey. Everything is on you. So you shouldn’t fall asleep or you’ll miss your stop. You shouldn’t get too drunk or you won’t easily find your way home. I traveled alone as a woman, and let’s be honest that clearly makes it even harder, BUT don’t let that scare you. Don’t let this world take that from you. Just be awake and aware. Keep an eye on your stuff. Look around and avoid walking alone at night in empty streets or looking lost and scared. Let a friend or your parents know where you’re heading. You own this, just be smart. Don’t let fear take control. Go with the flow and enjoy your ride. If you’re going to be too worried you won’t enjoy yourself and every face will look like a threat when really it’s not, so you know.. Just be responsible and it’s done.
Traveling light has been my revelation. My first solo trip lasted a month and I was SURE a backpack wasn’t going to be enough but man was I wrong. Bring with you only what you’re sure you’re going to use. If you really need something, you’ll buy it on the go. The lighter you travel the better you’ll enjoy the experience. Imagine going around with a heavy weight on your shoulder.. You get tired after 10 minutes and you’ll find yourself exhausted on a bench. Plus, it’s easier to fit a backpack into every kind of transportation you’re taking. Just make sure it’s of good quality, that is a must. That backpack is coming on your adventure for a long time and you don’t want to find your clothes scattered on the road.
Hostels are a magical place! I used to have a silly prejudice before: hostels are all dirty and uncomfortable. Well, sure it depends on the hostel you booked, but they are the best place for solo travelers. In hostels there’s a community of people coming and going, you’ll soon find out that you’re not the only crazy one traveling alone, honey, there’s plenty. They usually organize exploration itineraries, and have fun nights at the bar. Those are great occasions to find some lifelong friends.
I still remember my first time in a hostel: I go to the bar, order a beer, by the time the beer arrived, I already had 4 friends from every part of the world and we were going to the club. Just be friendly and don’t be scared to start a conversation. I recommend rooms with more people, you will all be friends by the time you exit the room so it’s even easier. But I do understand people who may prefer private rooms. P.s. never forget ear plugs! the more the people the more the chances someone will snore!
This is kind of generic, but I feel like it’s also the best advice I could give. Most of the times people don’t go around with the writing on their heads "I’m dangerous" - you just feel it. The same goes with roads and directions. I can’t count the number of times I felt I was getting lost even though Google Maps was telling me different. Well for the record, I was getting lost indeed. Turns out the GPS on my phone was messed up and I saved myself! Whenever you feel uncomfortable or uneasy in a certain place or with certain people, just leave. You’re alone so you’re entitled to do what you want without having to give explanations.
I’m a planner, I like to know the best places to visit, where to eat and so on, I never want to miss out. It’s easier to have everything planned, it makes you save time but sometimes time doesn’t need to be saved. Sometimes you should take a different road, sometimes you can get distracted. By trusting my guts and my bad sense of direction, I found some amazing spots! Less touristy and crowded, very random but really beautiful: those are the real gems.
You may be shy, I am shy, most people are. But think about it, nobody in this place knows you’re shy. Nobody knows your story so go ahead and recreate yourself. I know it may feel like you just can’t, you’re not confident enough but with all your strength, please give it a shot. The worst it could happen is you’ll come out as an outgoing and funny person. Most people will probably appreciate your will to be friendly and who knows.. maybe it’s a match, so start that conversation! Also, you’re allowed to ask, so do it.
A lot of times you’re completely blown away by the new places, faces, all the fun stuff you’re doing you don’t even have time to pause. But sometimes it may be that you feel a little alone. Maybe you start thinking that you should have brought a friend, maybe you think you could have had more fun. Maybe you just want someone to have a talk to for a second. Hey, nobody said that’s wrong. You don’t have to feel hyped at all times. But loneliness is precious too, as much as it sounds like ‘Eat Pray Love’: you get to know yourself. You get to spend quality time with YOU. Take yourself out to dinner, call a friend if you want and tell him/her about your day. What I find really comforting and fruitful is writing. Bring a small diary with you and write how you feel, your plans, what you’re learning, it’ll make a nice memory.
Photo: Berlin Wall
Go out and do as much as you can, exploit your opportunities, take long walks, do things you wouldn’t normally do, have a blast! But if you’re tired remember it’s okay to take a day off. You’re human too and you’re on holiday, you don’t have to get up and take a map everyday. You can also wake up at midday and take it easy, that’s part of the experience too don’t be too hard on yourself.
Maybe people have said you shouldn’t, people have warned you, you were hesitating, but here you are. You've made your choice to explore this beautiful world on your own. You’re trembling with joy and excitement for your new adventure.
And look at you now: you’re back home, you made friends, discovered and got richer. You have stories to tell. You’re not the same anymore. Now you’ve found out about this lifestyle, and even a walk alone in your own city has a different taste.
You had to let go of your comfort zone and you overcame the obstacles. Remember this: nobody said it was easy, we said it was worth it.
Written by Silvia Race