If you haven’t traveled by yourself, you’ve never lived! Traveling, whether solo or with friends, is an incredible experience because it teaches you things you don’t learn when you stay in your bubble. From eating new dishes to understanding how other people live, you can immerse your mind and body in a foreign world and come out the other side a better person.
There’s something about taking a leap of faith on your own that takes the experience to the next level. The bravery it takes is well worth the rewards when you finally get used to booking a table for one for dinner or walking into a packed bar to mingle with strangers. After a while, it becomes second nature.
These benefits are only beaten by the things you can claim to deserve. Okay, saying you deserve anything when you’re thousands of miles from home and not working sounds a little selfish. However, it isn’t since solo travel is hard work. It’s not easy to get out of bed knowing you’ve got to make friends all over again and put yourself in uncomfortable situations.
Therefore, if you’re looking for more reasons to make the jump and finally book a one-way ticket, you’ll find them underneath.
For those who aren’t familiar with “flashpacking,” it’s what “real” travelers call people who spend money casually. For instance, a flashpacker usually invests their money in internal flights rather than spending 24-hours on a tiny chicken bus. While it seems unfair to judge, people will determine whether you’re traveling the right way.
If your first response isn’t, “I don’t care what people think,” the idea of being judged might be scary. After all, sitting alone at a hostel table makes it seem as if everyone is looking at you, wondering why you’re on your own. However, the good news is that traveling on your lonesome is a bona fide excuse to do things differently.
It’s universally-accepted that a cramped, long-haul bus is no fun when there isn’t a group of people to lift everybody’s spirits. Plus, using flights to get around is a fantastic way to maximize your time overseas. Lots of solo adventurers use a short trip – four to six weeks – to dip their toes in the water to test whether they’ll enjoy a longer stint.
So, instead of alienating people and informing them that it’s none of their business, which it isn’t, you can tell nosy people that you’re short on time and want to see as much of the region as possible.
Going On Tours
Again, there is a stigma around tours, also known as excursions. Why would you travel to a far-flung country to explore it commercially? Why not venture out into the wild on your own, like a true traveler? Sure, this scenario is perfect on paper as everything is more rewarding when you do it yourself, including exploration. But, it’s not always feasible.
Firstly, there is the dichotomy of solo travel. You set off on your journey alone, yet you want to finish with a group of people you’ll never forget. This means you must put yourself in social situations where the odds of making friends are higher. As a result, a tour is a fantastic tool because it’s full of like-minded people who are searching for the same things – friends!
Secondly, there’s a safety issue. Women have to consider how safe it is to go abroad on their own, and when they land, they must factor in the pros and cons. A tour presents a happy medium since you’ll be with over people, and there is safety in numbers, but you’re still able to get out and about.
Sure, tours are more expensive, yet the money is worth it when it enhances the experience and makes your trip more enjoyable.
Speaking of making friends, you’ll have to do it a lot during your trip. Before you leave, this feature is the scariest part of traveling alone. Never having the safety net of leaning on a long-term friend or loved one is frightening because it’s out of your comfort zone. You’ve spent years in a support group, and now you have to leave your bubble.
However, there’s no need to fret about introductions. As a solo traveler, walking over to a table of people and asking if you can join them is a rite of passage. It’s almost illegal for them to say no. And, if they do, they aren’t the type of people you want to be around anyway. After all, you scheduled the trip to broaden your horizons.
The trick is to find a polite and comfortable way to introduce yourself. If doing it in a busy hostel bar while everyone watches aren’t your thing, you can try and make connections in the room. A dorm setup means there are travelers like you around, and they’ll jump at the opportunity to go for a drink or dinner with another person.
What you need to remember is that there is nothing wrong or awkward about it. As a solo traveler, you deserve to tag along with everyone else!
The experience is tiring as you spend most of your time mixing sight-seeing with making new friends. Throw in the late nights and partying, and you’ve got an exhausting combination. Travelers who go away with friends and large groups often find striking a balance between socializing and scheduling “me” time challenging, but not you.
As you don’t have any solid relationships – it’s not like your companions are childhood buddies or family members – it’s simpler to say, “I’m going to miss this one out, guys.” Yes, you get to be lonely. Mostly, it’s the last thing you want, but there are periods when being in your own company is healthy.
For starters, it teaches you to entertain yourself when you’re alone. This is essential for solo travelers because you can’t guarantee they’ll be people to rely on at every stage of your trip. Secondly, it’s imperative that you decompress and de-stress.
Don’t fall into the trap of assuming an adventure is a glorified vacation. The constant moving around is tough, so it’s crucial to take a breath and unwind when you get the opportunity.
Ask any solo traveler what they do at the end of a long trip, and most of them will say the same thing – book a hotel room. A hotel room is linked with “me” time. After spending months with people, you just want to relax and indulge in life’s little luxuries. A hotel is atypical of most vacations, but to you, it’s a small slice of heaven.
Hostels are incredible, and they serve an important purpose, but if you’re only away a couple of days, and you want to consider something else. Let’s face it – privacy is nice, too. Living out of a backpack, such as showering and getting dressed in a room full of strangers, is novel at first, but it gets old!
Of course, affording a room isn’t a sure thing if your budget is low as you need the money for essentials. Instead, search for cheap hotels with luxury rooms that are affordable. That way, you won't have to worry about the bill at the end of your stay, but you still get to enjoy! There’s nothing wrong with spending extra on a better establishment, but only if it’s within your budget.
This is one example of a solo traveling indulgence, but there are tons more, and you should pick the feature that best suits your needs.
Attempting The Language
It’s amazing how many countries you can visit without speaking the language. English is the world’s universal language, and every traveler from an English-speaking nation is blessed to be so lucky. Still, talking slowly and raising your voice defeats the purpose of your trip. You travel to experience new things, so you should experience the language.
Unfortunately, being around people makes you less likely to test out your linguistic skills because you don’t want to embarrass yourself. It’s a natural reaction, especially if you’re learning since it takes time to brush up on the basics. The situation is worse if a person you travel with is fluent.
Being alone forces you into an attempt. Okay, it might not go well, and your first few tries might result in speaking English anyway, but at least you’ll learn more by interacting in the locals’ native tongue. Plus, practice makes perfect, so your skills should improve as the trip plays out.
A big regret for many travelers is to pass up an opportunity to immerse themselves in the culture. Speaking English is a prime example, which is why you must give it a go, even if you don’t succeed in the beginning.
Traveling alone means you deserve to do everything from making friends to going on tours and spending time alone in a hotel room. However, you have to face your fears and schedule an adventure first. Will you do it and tick another item off your bucket list?
How about you? Are you a solo traveler who has additional tips to add? Do share!