The need to travel by yourself, to see the world through nobody but your own eyes, is something that every human on earth should do. The way in which you change and grow is fundamental in becoming the best version of you, however it comes with a few set backs. These reasons should not deter you, they should inspire you to face the challenges and push yourself to be the best you can be.
You need to be active
I am one of the very unlucky people with a slow metabolism. The first time I moved across to Dublin when I was 18, I gained 13 kilos. Yep- 13. The main reason for this is that I was not as active as I used to be. I spent a lot of time in transit or watching TV in hotel beds, rather than spending the morning going for a long walk or hiking up a mountain. Make sure you get at LEAST an hour outside, no matter what the weather, during your travels. Luxury and relaxation is great, but don’t be a hermit!
You need to dress appropriately
Being culturally insensitive is one of the worst mistakes you can make. Travelling solo means that you are more likely to be targeted by predators and people seeking out to scam you. By dressing like a local, you will reduce the risk of being spotted in the crowd and causing social issues.
You need to be social
A lot of you are introverts and that is totally okay! Even the most extroverted people can get nervous and self-conscious. The thing about solo travel is, you are alone. You need to actively seek out friendships. Unfortunately, most people do not recognise loneliness in people when they first meet, so they are unlikely to assume you are. Make the effort, grab their number and try your darndest to make plans with new friends.
You need to learn fast
Being alone out in the world is scary and you need to learn pretty fast how to travel savvy. Recently, I wrote the top 100 travel faux pas that travellers can make. Take a look at these and you may get an idea around the things I learnt in my solo travels. Try not to make mistakes twice, if something goes wrong- it is okay. Just take a deep breath, work through it and you will have a learnt a lesson.
It will get lonely
It is one of the first things you will realise whilst travelling solo, but it is not the worst thing in the world. Turn that loneliness into a desire to be social. The less effort you make, the lonelier you will be- so don’t stick to your hostel bed, get out in those common areas and meet new friends.
You will get scared
It can be very nerve racking catching public transport, let alone in a strange city and by yourself. Then a stranger comes over, speaking to you in a native tongue and starts to shout. Yep- terrifying! These little incidents will make you realise how strong you can be- ensure you apologise (most people know sorry in every language without knowing it!) and try and smile, life is scary sometimes, but the adrenaline can be funneled into excitement and stories for your friends back home!
It is hard.
Oh boy can it be tough at times. Trying to figure out routes and plans without anyone to bounce ideas and get advice off. This is where trusting strangers may be your only option. It may work out, it may not- and it is really hard. The thing about this however, is that you are shaping your future self. You are becoming a better person through these tough times.
It costs more.
I must say, I have travelled to over 30 countries and the most money I have EVER spent is travelling solo. Why? You need to pay for everything yourself- no cab sharing, no splitting meals, nudda.
You need to have backup
I don’t just mean parents. You have to be financially stable, if your bank card gets stolen and all funds drained- what do you do? You need to have some kind of insurance. For me, this comes in 2 forms- a credit card and travellers insurance. I never take my credit card out of the hotel/hostel room- it stays with my passport but in case something goes down- I know I can fly home or at least pay for more accommodation. Secondly, insurance is simply a must. If you can’t afford it- do not go travelling. Simple.
You need to learn to move on
Excuse the language- but shit happens. I have been robbed, I have had ‘friends’ leave me stranded at clubs in strange towns and I have lost all my luggage. It is human nature to make mistakes and in reality, these issues are more common for people who are travelling alone. Why? Because you don’t have somebody to check up on you! Instead of giving up, getting angry and going home, you need to learn to move on pretty fast. Nobody likes a whinger either- so complaining to strangers is not a viable option!