About a year and a half ago I bought a concert ticket on a whim. A concert that was in Oslo, Norway. I had never been to Norway, and had never traveled solo. I took a risk and I’d say it was more than worth it.
Not only was my trip to the arctic nothing short of magical, it was also a huge learning experience. You’d be shocked at just how much you can learn about yourself with ten days of complete freedom and no one else to answer to or rely on.
It is such an individual, unique experience that it is hard to describe wholly. Solo travel is both completely beautiful and empowering, but can also be scary and discouraging at times.
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.
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.
1. TRUST YOURSELF!
Right off the bat, I had a bad case of the nerves.
I have always been one to pride myself on my intuition and confidence, but honestly when I stepped off of that first plane that part of myself vanished.
I felt small, I felt stupid, I felt lost. I was an outsider.
It took me two days to get my bearings. To remind myself that I am NOT those temporary feelings – I AM smart and I AM able.
Once I reminded myself of that, I felt like I could take on anything. My days went from being full of nerves to being full of excitement and opportunity. I felt free.
Do NOT let nerves get the best of you. Of course we all have that initial feeling – but let it be brief.
As a reminder, YOU bought the ticket. YOU believed that you could do this. So do not let nerves hold you back.
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 were SO many moments on my trip that I could have avoided, but if I had let my internal fears take over and said “no” to any of these things, my trip would have been a totally different experience.
Here are just a few examples:
- Meeting up with a stranger from an internet travel group
- Third-wheeling a random couple on a Fjord cruise
- Going to a concert by myself
- Trusting three strangers to lead me on a Northern Lights hunt
These were all instances where I had to literally convince myself to take a chance. In the end, I made once-in-a-lifetime memories and made real connections because I didn’t let my fears get in the way.
*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.
Personally, I learned that I actually love exploring museums and historical sites on my own, tho in the past I had avoided these types of activities in group travel.
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! I look forward to hearing about your solo experiences!