I had been dreaming of going to Australia for a long, long time. To be honest, I didn’t even think of asking anyone to come with me on my first trip abroad, as it was always something that I dreamed of all by myself. But when the day came for me to leave, I found myself at the airport with a very dry throat and lots of doubts in my head. I remember ordering a muffin when I was waiting with my family just before check-in and I just couldn’t swallow it. I was so nervous!
Would I be alright? Would I find my way alone in a country I’ve never been to? Would I meet fun people? Would I have a good time? I absolutely had no idea what to expect.
How was this ever going to be fun?
5 Things They Don’t Tell You About Solo Travel…
1. Travelling alone is a BIG DEAL
(but you can only really worry about your next step)
As soon as the sad goodbyes were done, I found myself behind customs and somehow this great feeling of peace came over me. I realized that worrying wouldn’t take me anywhere. Instead, I just had to take it step by step, wasn’t I doing something awesome?
So I looked on my ticket, found the airline code. Looked on the digital displays, found the right gate. Went to the gate in time, waited for check-in. Boarded the plane, and so on. I focused only on the things I had to take care of in that exact moment, not on the long run. That helped so much! And mindfulness wasn’t even popular back then, can you imagine :)
Every step of the way I found myself doing things I never thought I would do alone, even if it was a simple thing as finding a shuttle bus to take me to the hostel or paying a visit to the aquarium.
And with those beginner steps in mind, I kept on travelling all those months I was in Australia. I would literally wake up and say to myself: ‘OK, so what do I want to do today? See a koala? Fine, now where can I find myself one and how do I get there?’.
I took everything one simple step at a time.
Don’t think too lightly about what it means to take on such a journey all by yourself, but don’t stress yourself out too much either. Be calm, beware of your health and safety like you would back home and only worry about the next move you’re going to make.
Holding a koala was always one of my biggest dreams as a kid. And I did it! Beyond happy.
2. You can travel alone EVERYWHERE
(but choosing the right country for you matters a lot)
Some people have no problem with being alone and travelling to places where everything, from food to culture is entirely different to what they’re used to. They can only see the adventure. And that is great! But it’s absolutely fine if you are not like that at all and you’re perhaps a bit nervous of your reactions when you’re out of your comfort zone.
That’s why it is important for you to acknowledge that and choose a country that matches your personality.
Some countries, like Australia and New Zealand are some of the easiest countries to travel in as a solo backpacker. Both places are so aligned for travellers that you’ll feel like you’re almost taken by the hand and shown around.
There are hostels in every little town, there is great transport on all popular routes, event are being organized for travellers everywhere, including scoring a few cheap drinks and meals along the way. There are more organized tours, day trips and activities than you can probably handle, so don’t worry for a second that you won’t be able to travel all by yourself here.
There is always a person in your hostel or at a travel desk that can tell you exactly where to go with the time and money that you have and want to spend.
Other places around the world that are great for solo travellers are Europe (Ireland, Scotland, Finland, Norway, Spain, The Netherlands, etc.), Oceania (Fiji, Vanuatu, etc.), South America (Chile, Peru, etc.), Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Japan, etc.), North America (USA & Canada) and Africa (South Africa, Kenya, etc.).
Think about what would concern you most about solo travel and pick a country that takes away that worry for you.
Where to go next? Let ME decide that!
3. You will feel A BIT LOST sometimes
(but solo travel can give you a huge confident boost)
Before I left, I would never have imagined that travelling solo would be such a big deal for me. It made me so confident to see that I could manage getting around a foreign country all by myself, organising accommodation, transport, meals and activities.
And yes, there were times when things go wrong. I’ve had injuries, lost stuff (ok, a LOT of stuff, I’m quite forgetful), met great people that I had to say goodbye to again (and never saw again), missed talking to someone that really knows me and some other less happy moments, but just the whole sense of freedom I got with organising the trip on my terms was amazing.
That I was the one deciding every single move I made. That this dream trip of mine really could be exactly what I imagined. How incredible is that?!
Every time you travel with someone else, there will always be a compromise on something. Maybe you like to go surfing all day, but your friend rather wants to shopping. You’ll have to find that balance between you. Which can be great of course, and usually that’s how life works, especially when you’re in a relationship.
But to have this feeling of total control that you’ll have when you travel alone, that’s something that’s so unique that I can recommend you to at least try once in your life.
Literally on top of the world in Kings Canyon, Northern Territory, Australia
4. Meeting new people can be SCARY
(but almost everybody feels that way)
If you are thinking about travelling alone, you might be a bit worried what it’s like to meet other people. I know I was, as I’m not normally someone that just walks up to total strangers to talk to them.
Just think about how you act at home. Would you normally go out by yourself to a club and start chatting to random people? Would you go to a restaurant alone and just drag your chair to someone’s table because they look nice? Would you go to the zoo, tell someone standing next to you that you love giraffes and walk with them for the rest of the day? Probably not. You’ll probably raise some eyebrows here and there to be honest.
Yet, when we travel, all of these things are pretty common.
Let me tell you that literally within an hour of arriving in Sydney, my hostel organised a walking tour through the city and I found people to talk to right away. That didn’t really stop until the day I flew back home.
A hostel is one of the best places to meet people. You can sleep in a dorm anywhere from 3 to 20 (or more) people, share a kitchen and TV-room together, so there’s lots of different places where you can hang out together. They often organise group activities or nights out. If you pick a country that has plenty of hostels and activities/tours, you’ll meet plenty of people. Especially because there are so many people like you, travelling all by themselves!
Before I left on my solo trip, I didn’t particularly like talking to strangers to be honest. Actually, I didn’t even like to phone or contact people I already knew. But in Australia, moving through the country on my own, I was surprised at the easy of which I got to meet other people.
You’re somehow forced to take action yourself when you travel solo and maybe surprisingly, you actually do that as well. It found it even hard to get some alone time every now and that, if you believe that.
Meeting people is easy in hostels in Australia, as you all share either a tour bus or a room together!
5. You might find out solo travel is NOT FOR YOU
(but you wouldn’t know that unless you try)
Would I recommend travelling on your own? I think by now, you already know the answer to this. I believe the freedom, meeting new people and doing the things you’ve always dreamed of -on your own terms- is something unforgettable. And no, I definitely don’t think you’re selfish thinking only about yourself on your trip!
You have earned this. You were brave enough to take that step most of your friends back home would love to do, but never will. To chase your dream even if you have no idea what will be ahead of you. Applaud yourself and continue doing what you do: being totally awesome.
And maybe you’ll find out it’s not for you, maybe you don’t want to make every single decision on your own. Maybe you want someone to talk to every part of the day, someone that knows you and you feel safe with. And that’s fine too.
But if you don’t try, you’ll never know it.
See it as an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and never let the fact that you might not be able to find a travel partner to come with you stop you from having your dream come true. What are you waiting for?
Travelling alone does mean you have to ask strangers to take your picture in front of landmarks every now and then, otherwise nobody would know you’ve been there :)
Read the following articles I’ve written about solo travel on The Travel Tester:
Free Printable Encouragement Cards for Solo Travellers. A Great Farewell Gift!
At 23, I went on a solo world trip. At 23, my cousin died of AIDS.
Life As A Freshman Backpacker
Travelling Alone As A Girl
How Independent Do You Need To Be To Travel?
Inspiring Solo Female Travellers:
- Dangerous Business
- Be My Travel Muse
- Adventurous Kate
- GRRRL Traveler
- Solitary Wanderer
- Borders of Adventure
- Solo Friendly
- Solo Travel
- Beyond Blighty
- This Battered Suitcase
- Solo Traveler
- Women on the Road
- Young Adventuress
- Ott’s World
- Wanderlust and Lipstick
More to Read – Because there is always MORE to read :)
Have you ever considered to travel on your own? What makes you want to do -or not- do it?