So many of us have considered traveling alone, yet few actually end up doing it. Some argue that safety is a concern, but others just believe that traveling alone will be boring and awkward. If you’re willing to look past the negligible glitches and take the plunge with traveling alone, you will find yourself discovering a passion that is, truth be told, quite addictive. Read on to find out how to overcome the awkwardness of solo travel before you go for broke:
1. Be comfortable with yourself first:
If you’re uncomfortable watching a movie alone or simply getting a meal at a restaurant by yourself, you need to get comfortable with your own company before you decide to wander off into the sunset alone. Traveling alone can be lonely, exhausting and tiring. You need to learn to love spending time alone, to understand yourself better and to enjoy time with yourself before you get on a flight to wonderland. While traveling solo is one of life’s greatest experiences, you need to be able to carry your suitcases up several flights of steps, return to an empty hotel room at the end of the day and manage the little inconveniences that come with traveling alone- bookings, transport, directions, language barriers, and if you’re anything like me, you might need to learn to navigate yourself around a city (or you’ll find yourself walking around the same block several times wondering why it looks so familiar).
2. Take baby steps:
Start with shorter trips closer to home. Take 3 day breaks or weekend getaways with yourself. This will gradually build you up for bigger trips and give you the confidence and practice to deal with the planning and execution of a full-blown trip.
3. Be realistic about cash:
While traveling alone, there’s no splitting costs into two. Be realistic about the money you need to shell out in order to make the trip happen. Then add another 20% of the amount for emergencies. There’s nothing worse than being stranded in a new country with insufficient funds.
4. Learn the art of making friends:
The one thing that has helped me the most during my travels is my ability to make conversation with just about anyone. It doesn’t matter where they come from or what they do- if you can hold a conversation with a stranger, you will find yourself easing up to solo travel. It’s always a good idea to start a conversation yourself. Most people are keen to share their stories and their experiences and are genuinely interested in hearing yours. The easiest people to befriend are co-travellers. I once met a guy backpacking in Bangkok, and we had a blast introducing each other to our bucket lists. We went our separate ways at the end of the day, but it helps to have someone to make plans and explore things with.
5. Address the issue of safety:
Put this worry to rest at the onset. As a 20-something girl traveling alone (with a penchant for attracting trouble) I have hardly ever encountered a dangerous situation. Though I’ve had some unpleasant experiences traveling around Asia (and Thailand in particular), there hasn’t been a single situation so far that has made me call my loved ones for help. It does help to get a sim card and store some local emergency numbers to contact just in case.
6. Accept the trade-off:
While I don’t believe we’re truly “unsafe” anywhere, be prepared for the little trade-offs you might need to make along the way. This might include staying-in at night instead of unleashing your wild side at a bar with strangers, or paying a bit extra for accommodation that is closer to the main city centre. It might also mean picking cities or destinations that are relatively safer than others. To cut the lecture short- don’t find yourself merrily walking down dark alleyways where you’re susceptible to danger. Not all shady pubs contain a hidden Diagon Alley, you silly muggle.