Solo Travel: Tips and Tricks for Your Adventure
Can I do it?
Every now and again we all feel the need to be alone for a little while. And what could be better than spending some me-time on top of a mountain or at the shore of a lake, soaking in nature's beauty? I think most of us travel-lovers have, at some point, felt the need to just go out into the world on our own, meeting some inspiring and fun new people along the way. But before actually traveling the world solo, many of us start rethinking and maybe even overthinking the whole process. What if I feel lonely, but never meet anybody new? Which countries are ideal to travel alone? What about the dangers solo traveling holds?
The rising popularity of solo traveling
Now I would like to start off by saying: If traveling the world on your own is something you have always wanted to do - it is probably something you should be giving a chance. According to the Association of British Travel Agents (2018), solo traveling has experienced a significant upraise of popularity in the last years. Their Holiday Habits report shows that, between 2011 and 2018, the percentage of solo travelers has increased from 6% to 15%, which is every sixth traveler. So, if you decide that traveling solo is something you want to give a chance, you are - quite ironically - not alone.
Finding your own way
I personally used to worry about getting lonely or bored and was afraid that I would not come across a lot of people, but I found out that there are many ways to ensure meeting some fellow travelers. Yet, whether you are one of those people who have no problem with being entirely on their own, or you are hoping to meet some companions you can share a small part of your journey with, the one crucial part is to choose the "ideal way of traveling" for you personally.
How to meet people
Some places, which are ideal for people who feel like socializing a little more are cities such as London, New York or Barcelona. Here you can stay in hostels and you will have no problem meeting new people, if you feel like having some company. Many hostels offer bar crawls or other programs. All you have to do is participate. However, if you feel more like traveling across the countryside, places such as South America, Indonesia, New Zealand, Thailand or Australia, for example, will probably be best choice for you. It is safe to say that, by booking a ticket on the Greyhound Bus in Australia for instance, you will have made a lot of new friends by the end of your trip. Almost every country offers bus tours, varying from day trips to 1 moth journeys where you can easily hop on and hop off. With organized tours like these, you will always have the chance to go on shorter trips, hikes or do some sightseeing on your own or simply stay isolated for a while, if you feel like it. Since most of the other travelers will make the same stops along the way, you will have endless opportunities to socialize or even share parts of your journey with others. But even if you are hoping to socialize on your journey, do not hesitate to take that me-time you set out to have when you started your travels. Sometimes we can find comfort in being alone. Being alone does not necessarily mean feeling lonely or feeling like you have nothing to do. As Miller (2016) put so nicely into words:
"Don't fill every waking moment. Let yourself be. Loneliness isn't boredom" (National Geographic, 2016).
How to stay safe when you are alone
You might also be the type of person who would not mind staying more isolated, yet you are still worried about some of the dangers of being alone. Maybe you want to climb a mountain on your own or explore the area and enjoy the idyllic silence of nature all by yourself, yet you are worried that you might get lost, for example. Now, of course there is always some danger attached to hiking alone and everyone should know how much risk they want to take on their travels, but there are also ways to ensure being a little bit safer. Whenever you leave a place, whether it is a hostel or a campsite, just make sure to tell somebody where you are going and ask them, if they could send help in case you do not notify them in a couple of hours or days. This can either be somebody from the hostel or, thanks to modern technique, it could even be somebody at home whom you will give a call or shoot a quick text message once you are back.
Apart from doing something you enjoy or simply always wanted to try, solo traveling comes with many other benefits. First and foremost, it can give you a form of freedom that comes with fully being in charge of where to go, what you want to see or how long you want to stay somewhere. Delarato (2017) wrote that solo traveling helped her build confidence and made a remarkable difference on her ability to make decisions (NBC News, 2017).
This shows that, as longs as you always inform yourself before your journey, make sure you stay safe and find your own "ideal way of travelling", there should be nothing stopping you. Most things we are afraid of are only scary until we go out and do them.
- Association of British Travel Agents. 2018. More holidaying alone in order to do what they want. https://www.abta.com/news/more-holidaying-alone-order-do-what-they-want (13.06.2020).
- Delarato, Laura. NBC News. 2017. Why traveling alone is the best impulse decision I ever made. https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/why-travelling-alone-best-impulse-decision-i-ever-made-ncna821526. (14.06.2020).
- Miller, Carrie. National Geographic. 2016. Six Things Solo Travel Teaches You. https://www. nationalgeographic.com/travel/travel-interests/tips-and-advice/six-things-solo-alone-travel-teaches-you/. (14.06.2020).
- Waugh, Janie. Solo Traveler. 2018. Solo Travel Safety: 50+ Tips for Those Who Travel Alone. https://solotravelerworld.com/travel-safety/. (13.06.2020).