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I recently asked you on Instagram what type of topics you’d be interested in seeing from me. The highest response I got went something like this: “I’m scared to travel solo, how did it feel? How can I meet people during solo travel?”
Are you considering solo travel? Maybe you’re hesitant? Or maybe you’re nervous and you feel like you can’t travel alone? That’s okay, because I felt the same, and this blog post is for you!
Earlier this year, I went on my first solo trip to South America. I travelled around Peru and Bolivia over the course of two months and it was everything and nothing like I expected it to be!
Before embarking on my journey, my anxiety was through the roof! I felt overwhelmed and unsure about the trip as it drew near. However, once I was there, those feelings quickly diminished and I was going on adventures and meeting incredible people. As I was posting stories on Instagram, I had old friends reaching out to me telling me that I was brave for going and that they would never travel solo themselves because they were too scared.
Before going on this trip, fear stopped me from travelling alone for a long time! I talked myself out of it for several years. I even used different excuses to justify why I was not ready to go. But ever since I’ve been back, I’ve been planning my next solo adventure because now that I’ve done it once, I know I am capable of doing it again.
I want to let you know that it’s okay to be nervous or scared. There aren’t many things that will prepare you for solo travel other than solo travel itself.
So here are five things that will help you if you’re considering your first solo trip:
You don’t have to dive into the deep end when you’re still figuring out how to swim! Take baby steps so that you don’t get overwhelmed. I went on my first solo trip for 8 weeks, but you don’t have to follow the same footsteps. A great way to test the waters of solo travel is to start small. You can begin by visiting a new city within your country or state for a weekend. This will ease your mind as you will be close enough to home to feel a sense of comfort. Trying new things and exploring new areas will prepare you for a longer break the next time around!
Stay In Hostels!
Staying in a hostel is the best choice you can make if you want to meet people and make friends! You can either book a shared room or a private room. However, my go-to is the female dorm room. These rooms are where I had the most success in connecting with fellow travellers and finding people to explore with. Regardless of the room you choose, you will end up meeting people in hostel lounge areas or activities. Hostels have common rooms, bars and kitchens to meet new people but make sure to take advantage of hostel-run activities such as free walking tours, BBQ nights, karaoke nights, and more.
I’ve noticed that hostels get a bad rap sometimes for being dirty and noisy but there are so many different types of hostels! There are party hostels, adventure hostels, eco-hostels, cosy hostels and even luxury hostels! You can find various different types on Hostelworld and Booking.com but make sure to read the reviews and choose the one that best suits your needs.
Don’t Plan Too Much!
Don’t make rigid plans throughout your entire trip. You can do some research on the place(s) that you’re planning to visit and see what there is to do in that city or town. Start by making a list on your phone or in your journal of the things you would like to do and see whilst you’re there but don’t feel pressured to tick every single thing off of that list.
The best way to travel during your first solo trip is to remain flexible and go with the flow. Chances are, if you do end up staying in a hostel, you will meet new people and you may want to spend the day with them instead.
It’s Okay To Be Alone!
How many times have you travelled to work alone or gone grocery shopping by yourself? On a solo trip, you are essentially doing the same things that you would be doing back home, just in a different environment. That’s not to say you can’t familiarise yourself with the area (through a free walking tour).
A great way to deal with being alone when solo travelling is to have a general idea of what you want to accomplish when you do have some time to yourself. Maybe you want to read a few chapters of a book, listen to a podcast, write in your journal, or take creative photographs. Have this in mind when you are socialising and exploring with others so that when you do find yourself alone, you can tick something off your to-do list.
Your Confidence Will Grow!
You’re going to come back home with more confidence than what you left with. Remember that.
“Every time you encounter something that forces you to “handle it,” your self-esteem is raised considerably. You learn to trust that you will survive, no matter what happens. And in this way your fears are diminished immeasurably.”Feel the fear and do it anyway by Susan Jeffers
When you travel solo, you are responsible for yourself and your own actions, so it is inevitable that you will discover how capable you are during the process. There will come a time when you have to step outside of your comfort zone and make decisive decisions without depending on anybody else. Whether it’s going to a restaurant alone for the first time or navigating a country where you don’t speak the language, you will gain confidence because you will figure it out and find a way to get through it. And, once you’ve done it, you’ll know that you can do it again.
Just know that you don’t always have to wait for someone to travel with you. You can do it alone and you’ll thank yourself when it’s all over.