Solo travel is both completely beautiful and utterly terrifying.
It is such an individual experience that it is hard to describe wholly, but what every traveller will tell you is it is 100% worth the risk. You would be shocked at just how much you can learn about yourself with just a few days of complete freedom and no one else to answer to or rely on.
In the winter of 2019, I embarked on my first ever solo trip to a place I had never been. Not only was my trip nothing short of magical, it was also a huge learning experience and I wanted to share some of those lessons with you.
I sat down, re-read my journal entries and watched my daily re-caps in an effort to sum up the most important lessons from my trip. I am choosing to share these with you in hopes that they feed your curiosity for solo travel and perhaps give you the boost of confidence you need to experience it yourself.
1. TRUST YOURSELF!
Even the most confident of travellers can be nervous the first few days of solo travel.
Travelling on your own means you may feel vulnerable and small. Take time to acknowledge those feelings, but don’t let them linger and ruin your experience.
Remind yourself that you are NOT those temporary feelings. You are SMART and you are ABLE.
YOU bought the ticket, YOU planned the trip, YOU believed that you could do this.
TRUST in yourself and your abilities to adapt and navigate this new place.
2. F*CK FEAR
As you can imagine, solo travel puts you in some uncomfortable situations. Situations that you would most definitely avoid if in ‘the real world,’ but can be truly incredible experiences if you just say, “f*ck it!”
There will be SO many moments that you will have to choose to overcome your fears and embrace.
- Talking to the stranger sitting next to you on the bus.
- Going to a concert by yourself.
- Joining group tours and making friends.
- Asking questions to locals.
- Explore a monument with a new friend.
While some of these may seem intimidating – take the chance! These moments have the opporrtunity to impact your trip so much. You might make a life-long friend or gain a new perspective. These are the memories you will keep forever.
*Before we depart from this lesson – Please don’t forget to TRUST YOURSELF and assess these situations for any real danger. If you feel bad vibes from someone, if you are not aware of your surroundings, if you do not have a way to communicate with emergency services, do NOT ignore your instincts. I am NOT encouraging you to ignore your instincts, but rather to separate those instincts from irrational fear.*
3. BE FLEXIBLE
If you have never travelled alone before, be prepared to notice a shift in your travel preferences. You may enjoy different types of activities or locations alone rather than in group travel, and you want to have space to explore that.
For example, in the past you may have hated visiting museums but when solo you may find that you have more time to explore what you want to learn about and go at your own pace. It may become your new favorite activity!
There are many ways you can create a flexible itinerary while still hitting all of your “must dos.” For example, you can plan for one extra day in each city which allows for additional activities, a day of rest, or an extra day with a buddy you met abroad.
It is important to me, and I assume many of you, to be able to share your experiences with friends and family – to be able to look back and share this spectacular and unique part of your story with others.
It may seem like a silly thing to say in 2020 when it is almost second-nature to record every-single-thing on social media, but do not forget to set aside time to capture the people and places you are seeing and the feelings that come along with it.
Like most things, traveling can change your life but only if you let it. Taking stock of your feelings before, during, and after your trip will help you to further understand yourself and grow as an individual.
Allow yourself a few hours to walk around the city and take pictures, give yourself a slow morning at a cafe to journal, and record videos nightly to recap your adventures.
I truly hope that what I have learned from my experience can encourage you to explore in whatever capacity you can.
If you still feel intimidated, just keep these things in mind and practice being alone in your daily life. Take yourself out to eat, go see a movie, take a long walk, and work your way up from there!
Whether you are an experienced traveller or an aspiring traveller I would love to hear from you via comment or email! Send me your questions, experiences, or YOUR lessons from solo travel.