Making the decision to travel solo is often a difficult decision for many people. There are so many of us out there who could just never imagine going to a foreign country completely alone. And the truth of it is, many people see travelling solo as something sad, or something to be ashamed of.
However, deciding to take a trip by yourself does not mean you are lacking in friends or hate company. It just means that the people in your life may not be in a position to commit to a long trip or even a holiday; they may also have plans with partners or friends. Or, maybe you just like travelling alone!
The truth about solo travel is that while there can be moments of loneliness, you will almost certainly end up coming home with a plethora of new friends from all over the world. And if you are really lucky, you may come back with a totally new perspective on life and on your own capabilities. Solo travel is an extremely rewarding learning curve and something to be cherished, not to be ashamed of.
Having said that, some people are more cut out for it than others (though I truly believe everyone should try travelling alone at least once in their life). Here are 5 ways to make sure you get the best out of your solo travels.
1 – Chat to everyone
The reality of day-to-day solo travel is that you will meet dozens of new people every single day whether in your hostel or hotel, on a tour or just a friendly face out and about.
To really open yourself up to the possibilities of solo travel, it is so important to take these opportunities to get to know new people with both hands. You never know what doors it may open.
If you see a fellow traveller in the supermarket, go up and introduce yourself. If you meet people cooking up a storm in the hostel kitchen, ask them what they are making. If you are on a tour, do not stand by yourself, go and chat with the people nearest to you.
Any opportunity you get to strike up a conversation with a stranger and especially a fellow traveller, I say take it. Before you know it, you will have a whole new circle of friends to spend your travels with.
2 – Stay in hostels
The fact of travel is that hostels are way more social than hotels. With dorm rooms and common areas, these types of accommodations are designed to get people mingling and chatting. Thankfully, the people staying there are also usually keen to do so.
Make the most of your time in your hostel as this is the perfect time to get to know people as you make dinner, sit in your dorm room or enjoy a beer in the common room.
As travellers, you are all in the same boat, so do not be afraid to strike up conversations as they will almost certainly be reciprocated and in many cases, appreciated.
3 – Be open to new opportunities and adventures
If you are going to solo travel, you need to be able to motivate yourself to get out and explore every single day.
Any opportunity you get to meet new people or see new places should be welcomed with open arms. Being open and able to meet new people will present you with a new realm of ideas and possibilities that you did not even know would be open to you.
So make sure you do not miss out on them.
4 – Be a ‘yes' person
Being a solo traveller means saying yes.
Do you want to go out to a salsa club despite never having danced salsa in your life? Yes. Do you want to explore Lima with your very own local tour guide? Yes. Do you want to join a group of people in your hostel going out to a new place? Yes!
As a solo traveller, you are your own boss and have the right to pick and choose exactly how you want to spend your travels. When you get the opportunity to do things that might make you uncomfortable or may downright terrify you, these are the most important things to say a big resounding yes to. It may just change your life.
5 – Like your own company
Though you will meet endless new people while abroad, the reality is that you will inevitably spend quite a bit of time alone as a solo traveller. When you are travelling between destinations, going out exploring for the day, or perhaps staying in a quieter area, there is a lot of downtime by yourself as a backpacker.
This is why it is so important that you enjoy your own company and like to be alone with your own thoughts. While it is so easy to get caught up in your own head and get anxious about small things when travelling alone, you need to be the kind of person who can look on the bright side and in unpleasant moments know deep down that everything is going to be okay.
6 – Be responsible for you
At the end of the day, no matter how many great people you meet, as a solo traveller, you are ultimately responsible for yourself.
No matter how much you trust someone else, it is you and only you that truly have your own back. So even if you meet a bunch of people and are travelling with them, make sure you have all of your own stuff organised.
Know how you are getting to a new place and how you are getting back to your accommodation after a few beers. Just because you are meeting tonnes of new people as you travel, does not mean you can become complacent.
As a solo traveller, you can only rely on yourself and that means never taking your own safety for granted and never putting your safety in the hands of other people, no matter how much you trust them.
Taking responsibility for everything you do is a big part of a successful solo travel trip.
7 – Stay motivated
The only way you will psyche yourself up to go on a solo travel trip is to be super motivated to do so.
And the only way that you will truly enjoy your solo travel trip is if you are motivated and passionate about it. You need to be able to motivate yourself to get out and about every day. You need to be eager to chat with new people and unafraid to approach a big group of people.
If you are afraid of these things or unable to motivate yourself, you will probably end up spending a lot of your time alone and missing out on amazing opportunities. The key is a positive mindset where you are unashamed to give yourself little pep talks and truly motivate yourself to have a plan for every single day.
I can promise you that the sense of accomplishment and fulfilment you will feel when you manage to tick something off your bucket list or make a new friend is one of the greatest feelings in the world and something you should strive to.