So, the thought of travelling on your own somewhere could easily fill you with dread. I’m here to tell you why that’s kinda the reason you should go….
1. Solo Exclusive Experiences
Travel is not just ticking off all the things to do in a place. It’s the experience of being there. And honestly there are some experiences that you just don’t get when you’re in a group. It is very easy to do all the things AS a group; you go to the bar together, dinner together, dancing together and suddenly you realise it’s been two weeks and you haven’t spoken to anyone other than your group and waiters. Travelling by yourself you sit in bars alone – for about ten minutes. I made more flash friends in the three months when I lived in a hostel in Greece than I have in my life total. I have partied on the beach with South Africans, gone dancing with groups of local girls, learnt the rudest words in Spanish, Swedish, Greek, Russian – all because I was on my own and started talking to people around me.
Because I was on my own on Santorini I had to talk to people. I made friends with the barmaid. Because I made friends with the bar maid, I travelled to Naples with her. Because we went to Naples together and I met her (now) boyfriend. Because we all got along so well we travelled together through Sweden, Turkey, and Greece for over 6 weeks. I consider these two people some of my closest friends, while revisiting Greece together last year we met a solo traveller at our hostel and she became one of our best friends –there hasn’t been a day since where our group chat hasn’t been active. Honestly if an amazing friendship is the only thing (it won’t be) that you get out of travelling solo – isn’t that worth it?
There are very few times in life where acting in a selfish way isn’t selfish. When you travel in a group, everyone gets a vote on what you do. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you find yourself going into the twelfth designer store and for the twelfth time – you don’t care. You put up with it – and so you should, it’s not just your trip. However, when you’re on your own, your priorities are the only priorities. If you want to go to the tenth museum in ten days – go. If you want to eat four meals a day and sit in parks drinking coffee – you can. If you find a once in a lifetime opportunity – like 20 Euro flight somewhere random – you can take it and the only person you need to convince is yourself. You’re also restricted in your choice when you have to factor in other people’s proclivities. I have a friend who won’t stay in a hostel with less than a 95% rating online, in a no more than 4-person dorm, and only within a 20-minute walk from her favourite attraction – this meant her cheapest acceptable option for Paris was over 60 Euros a night (we did not end up going to Paris together, thankfully for my bank account). Times when your decisions are yours alone are incredibly rare in life, grab them where you can.
So many people don’t want to start travelling solo because ‘what if… I get lost’ or ‘what if there’s a problem and they don’t speak English’. These were my concerns when I started travelling. These things happen, you do get lost you do hit language barriers, but learning to deal with these things on my own is the single most empowering thing I’ve experienced. Yes. The earthshattering realisation that I could write what I want to say in Google Translate and show my grumpy, elderly, Greek receptionist what I meant was a massive victory for me in 2012. Booking hotel rooms on the go thanks to a particularly slow off season, massive victory. Putting feet on the ground for the first time in a new country and taking the metro instead of a taxi, massive victory. These relatively tiny achievements added up over time and now equates to an unwavering self-reliance and confidence. I can manage, I may not excel in every situation, but I can manage.
That fear you feel when you think about travelling by yourself, that is the reason to give it a go. You don’t have to go somewhere extreme for your first trip; pop to a country that speaks your language, take a weekend in another province, or jump in feet first and book a trip to your dream destination. The point is – do it, go, be on your own and find your own feet. Travelling with groups is in NO way inferior to solo travel and I will talk about why you should travel with a group (at least once) next week- Happy Travels!