Are you still unsure whether to embark on your first solo travel adventure? Well whether it be a weekend break close to home or strapping on your backpack and heading half way across the world, there are many ways to solo travel.
Here I have asked a few great ladies their stories and tips about their solo travel trips, to inspire you and to give you some confidence to spend some quality time with yourself and the great outdoors.
First, when they say that everyone should do a solo trip once in their life, they are right. I absolutely love to travel, and I have wanderlust running through my veins, but even if you’re not that type of person, it really does enlighten you…about you. If you feel shy, you will feel bold. If you’re timid, you will feel like an explorer. If you’re scared, you will feel like a daredevil. Solo travel forces you to conquer fears in a way nothing else I have experienced can.
- Be afraid
That may be the opposite of what people tell you, but fear is ok. It means that you are stepping out of your comfort zone to do something that you have never done. Because at the end of your solo trip, that initial fear will serve as a badge of honor that you conquered. Also a healthy fear when traveling alone keep you safe and aware of your surroundings.
I am a bit of a nerd so I love to research and find out all sorts of cool facts about my next destination. What is the culture like? What language do they speak? What are key cultural traditions? What is the food like? What is the history of the land there? When doing a solo trip not only are these facts interesting but it also gives you a mental lay of the land.
- Book Tours
I do love wandering a city, with no plan in mind and just taking in what comes next. But, I have found that during a solo trip booking tours can be a great way to make friends. Some people make friends at the hostels, which is good too, but those people may not be into the things you want to do. On my solo trip to Costa Rica I went zip-lining, bungee jumping and repelling waterfalls, and in each of those I found like-minded travelers that were into the same adventures I was. We connected on other excursions and I could have company if and when I wanted to.
You can find more from Karla on her;
Yara from ‘The Twenties Guide’
“My first solo trip wasn’t something I had planned for. It was more of an impromptu decision after plans to travel through the US with one of my best friends had been canceled. I was disappointed and desperately wanted to go on an adventure, so I decided to buy the cheapest one way ticket I could find (from Amsterdam to London) and figure things out on the go. Was I nervous? Heck yes! But luckily I didn’t have enough time to worry about it too much because I was leaving a week later.
I flew back home five weeks later without my backpack (whole other story) but with a TON of experiences and memories that to this day, I am so thankful for. I found my way through 9 different cities I’d never been to before and met inspiring people that I still get to call my friends today. However, I think that the most valuable things I took away from that trip were the lessons from the mistakes (or less than desirable choices) I made. I can write about this for days but if I could give you just one main piece of advice, it would be to take your time.
Traveling often means going through things like dealing with culture shock, navigating in new environments, making a lot of uncertain decisions, carrying your belongings on your back all the time, taking care of your safety and simply processing all the amazing (and sometimes less amazing) things that you experience.
What I learned that first solo trip, was that it costs so much more time and energy when you go through these processes by yourself than when you are traveling with friends or family. It makes sense because having someone with you who you know and trust and who knows you, provides you with comfort and familiarity while you’re in an unknown setting. So after racing through cities for the first 3 weeks, wanting to “make the most of my trip”, I crashed.
I found myself in a hostel bed in Germany and I did not have the energy or will to get up because I had pushed myself too much. I hadn’t allowed for any “slow days” out of fear of missing out and now I was paying the price. It took two extremely slow days (and a lot of comfort food) to get back into my adventure mode. Ever since I really focus on taking my time and listening to what I need.
You don’t have to visit three museums, take a hike and visit the top 5 things to see according to Lonely Planet, every single day. Cramming as many cities into your three week journey as you can will not give you a better experience than thoughtfully choosing a couple that you thoroughly enjoy at your own pace. Remember that this isn’t about ticking off the cities on your bucketlist, its about adding amazing experiences to your life’s story. So please, take your time, allow for some slow days and take care of yourself and I promise you’re in for an unforgettable journey!
You can read more from Yara on her;
Mae-Gene from ‘The Wandering Suitcase
I’m not going to lie, the first time I traveled alone, I was petrified. I had traveled previously, but I had always been with someone else, either with friends, family or my boyfriend. The idea of loneliness when traveling was not what scared me. I was more afraid that I would somehow be incapable of traveling by myself. What if I got lost? What if I got hurt? What if I didn’t know how to travel by myself? The truth of the matter was when I finally began traveling solo, nothing bad happened at all. I had built up this fear towards something that wasn’t all that bad. I didn’t get lost, I didn’t get hurt, and didn’t magically lose my ability to enjoy travel because I was alone. Once experienced, solo travel was almost like a drug – I was addicted. I felt like I could travel anywhere by myself, and there was a sense of freedom that I had never felt before. The experience of solo travel has given me so much confidence in my ability to look after myself. If you’ve been thinking about traveling solo, I’d highly recommend it – even just once!
You can read more from Mae-Gene on her;
My first solo trip was something that took several years to prepare for. I grew up in huge cities, and have been used to constantly being surrounded by crowds of people – so the concept of spending a week by myself, especially camping and hiking in remote areas, was both thrilling and terrifying to me. It took a few years to mentally prepare for this trip; which is something that I don’t regret because it gave me that confidence I needed. I read articles like this, of women discussing their first experiences and what they learned. I made sure to learn how to read a map, pitch a tent, start a fire, as well as how to defend myself. I went on a couple of practice runs – starting off with my planning and doing everything on a camping trip while my camping partner got to enjoy having me do all the work :P, to going on a solo day trip around where I lived. All that preparation definitely paid off.
The way I scheduled my trip was perfect and is also something I highly suggest to any anxious adventurous girls out there like myself: start off the first day or two with guided hikes and stay in popular campgrounds. Honestly, after the first day, you don’t even notice you are by yourself or remember your fears. You are too busy living in the moment, too busy spending time with yourself – a self-care routine that most neglect to do. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t be aware of your surroundings or to be cautious.
I did have a few people ask me throughout my trip if I was alone, to which I always replied yes, but that I had several people aware of my whereabouts. I had my husband check in on me once a day if I hadn’t called him, and gave him my day-to-day itinerary. I also usually had on a survival bracelet, with the handiest thing IMO being the screeching whistle in case you need to call for help. As with life in general, I listened to my gut whenever I felt like I was getting myself into an uncomfortable situation.
If you’re reading this,you’re already doing great preparation to ensure a smooth first solo trip. I hope it’s an amazing one, wherever you go and whatever you decide to do! Happy travels!
You can see more from Steph on her;