Travel is one of the most fulfilling and horizon expanding things any of us can ever do. Experiencing other cultures, sampling different foods, learning new languages, being exposed to new and fascinating ways of living and thinking. Yep, travel truly is the best.
Hitting the road with a buddy or a family member is great, it’s huge amounts of fun and provides a brilliant way to deepen existing relationships but when you have someone familiar with you, travel loses a little bit of the that makes it so powerful – the adventure. Strapping on that backpack and stepping out of our comfort zone all alone really takes cajones.
Solo travel is superior for so many reasons. For instance, It’s much easier to make new friends when bopping about on your own. You can travel at your own speed. You have no responsibilities to anyone, whatever you choose to do today is 100% up to you – if you’ve never experienced this feeling, it’s exhilarating.
That said, if you’re about to set off on a solo adventure there are three things you need to consider before departure. Now, I’m not going to get into packing essentials, like what towel or what toothbrush you should bring, but read on and I’ll explain a few larger concepts.
1. You’re going to have to get used to eating alone
Solo travel is truly rewarding but that’s not say your trip isn’t going to be full of many highs and lows. For myself and many other lone wanderers I’ve spoken to, one of the first lows they encounter is the realisation they are going to have to eat a lot of evening meals on their own.
This realisation tends to kick in on day one of the trip, when they sit down for dinner and look around at all the groups of friends or families chowing down around them. An instant pang of loneliness tends to hit, a feeling of, ‘what am I doing?!”
There seems to exist a social stigma to eating out alone in many cultures, especially in the western world. Going out for food is largely the preserve of the group, not the solo individual. Well, get used to it my friend. If you’re traveling alone, you are going to spend a lot of mealtimes alone. Of course you’ll make friends along the way but you will have to get mentally prepared in advance for solo meals.
My advice, learn to love them. Once your trip gets going and you make friends you might find yourself missing these moments of mealtime solitude. I highly recommend practicing mealtime mindfulness, it will bring a new appreciation to almost everything you eat.
2. Your safety
Now let me preface this by saying that no matter where in the world you find yourself on your wanders, you’ll soon notice a pattern – people are generally good. Now there are bad eggs in every town but on the whole 99% of the individuals you meet will be welcoming, warm and hospitable.
If you’re traveling alone however, and you should, you do have to engage some common sense when it comes to your own safety.
The benefit of traveling with a buddy is you have someone to watch your bag when you nip to the loo, or watch your back when wandering in an unfamiliar part of town. If you’re flying solo you’re a little bit more exposed, especially us girls. That’s just how things are.
If you’re traveling solo you have to be that 5% more sensible. Never ever walk home alone in a night in a part of town you don’t know and trust completely. In 90% of the world taxis are cheap. Use them. Never get so drunk on a night out that you lose your senses. It’s foolish when you’re at home, it can be dangerous when you’re in a foreign town alone.
If you’re one of those crazy people who like to go on solo hikes or wanders in the wilderness, always tell someone where you’re going, even if it’s just the owner of the hostel or hotel you’re staying in. Nobody likes getting lost now do they?!
3. Your family
Yep, if you are heading away on a long solo trip there is one very important group of people you really have to consider – your beloved family. While you are away having the time of your life the chances are considerable that your poor mom and dad are worried sick about you. Do them a favour and keep in touch.
Despite it being nearly 15 years ago now, my mom still brings the story of when I didn’t call or email home for nearly two weeks when backpacking alone in Africa. I think back on that and feel genuine guilt for worry I must have caused her. What was I doing – having too much fun.
Let my shame be a lesson to you, keep in touch with your loved ones. In today’s world of WhatsApp and instant messengers you’ve got even less excuses than I had.
Well, there you have it my would-be world wanderers, three little things to consider before you hit the trail on your lonesome. You are going to have the absolute time of your life. And don’t be surprised if you return home a different person entirely – in a good way. Happy travels!
Hi! My name’s Sarah Cummings. I’ve been involved in writing informative and helpful guides for the last five years now. Originally, my passion to help others was the overriding factor to become a writer, but now I feel like I’m learning more everyday too!
My love of exercise has always been a big part of how I lead my life, and I find it helps with lots of things, including sleep. I’m an advocator of promoting sleep and how it can be the difference between living a good, fulfilled life and an unhappy one.
I enjoy learning and coming up with new ways to develop my writing so that I can help others to grow and learn too. When I have a spare morning, you can catch me gazing at sunrises from different places on the planet!