Single travel can be exhilarating, exhausting and even scary at times. Whether you plan on going to the other side of the world or staying within your country, solo travel will expose you to life (and its challenges) in a way only it can.
Many of the people I have met along the way have taken the decision to travel alone as a way to evolve. By doing something they know can make them feel uncomfortable, they aim to become a stronger version of themselves and shed some of their fears.
I have met some of the most inspiring people on my travels, experienced incredible highs, and learned some hard life lessons. I had traveled alone before heading to Asia, but not for this long or this far away from my friends and family.
In this post I’m going to share 7 tips for traveling alone, you may not have been told.
How to Start Traveling Alone
“You don’t need to be great to get started, but you need to get started to be great” – Les Brown
To start traveling alone you, just need to need to buy a ticket. Ok so it isn’t that simple… But it isn’t that difficult either.
I’m Traveling by Myself for the First Time
If you have never traveled alone before, plan a short break (a long weekend, or week away) to somewhere you have always wanted to go. This can break down any fears you may have:
- What if something goes wrong?
- What if I don’t meet anybody?
- Will I get lonely?
- Where will I stay?
- What if I don’t enjoy it?
There are plenty of reasons we can tell ourselves not to head out, and the longer we hold it off, the more reasons we will give ourselves.
There are a lot of great location guides and solo travel blogs out there, that provide good advice and inspiration for those starting out. From how to stay safe, what you should pack, and how to meet people.
You’re not alone, all solo travelers will have gone through the same thoughts and fears at the beginning.
I’m Thinking About Taking a Solo Trip for a Few Months… Or Even Years
If you’re itching to get out on the road for a few months, or even years, it will take a bit more planning and preparation.
One of the biggest barriers people face when dreaming about traveling the world is funding a life of travel. If you have savings you’ve worked hard for, the idea of running out can seem scary.
Having a way of making money while traveling is the ideal solution.
It has become more possible now than ever before to turn that dream into a reality. The rise of online jobs has made living a nomadic life and traveling the world full-time a realistic goal.
Like any major goal in life, it is not one that comes easy. The nomadic lifestyle is a thing of beauty, sprinkled with constant challenges and instability. Check out my article ‘11 Essential Skills to Live a Nomadic Life’ to read more about sustaining a life on the road.
If you have the time and resources to take a few months out to travel, and the desire to do so, don’t think twice, do some research and book that ticket. The world is a wonderful teacher, waiting to guide you.
Whether you are just starting out, going on holiday, or heading out for an extended period, I’m going to share 7 solo travel trips which I have picked up, which I hope help you out.
7 Solo Travel Tips You May Not Have Been Told
These tips are based on my experiences traveling solo over the last five years, which has been a mix of holidays, working abroad, and becoming a digital nomad.
1. It Will Probably Be A Rough Landing
I don’t mean you actual landing, but arriving in new surroundings can be quite overwhelming to being with.
The pictures you see of people having fun, amazing scenery and incredible adventures can give a false sense of expectation. That is waiting for you as you travel, but it is very rarely what you are greeted with.
When you first arrive in a new place, you will probably be tired and a little nervous. The first time I landed in Nepal, I was bombarded with taxi drivers trying to get me in their cars, hotel representatives trying to sell me a room, and all I wanted was some fresh air.
It’s not uncommon to feel a bit scared, once you make it to your accommodation, heading out alone to do something as simple as getting food can seem like a daunting task. The streets are very different, you don’t know your way round, and you may not even know how or what to order.
The first couple of days can seem like too much, just give it a little time. If you’re staying at a hostel, people will be around that have been in the same situation, strike up a conversation. Give yourself time to rest, grab a notebook and write how you are feeling, this can be great to reflect on later.
Everything will work out, you will meet people to head out with, you will figure your way round the area, and you will have some great adventures.
2. Don’t Always Trust A Friendly Smile
If you are traveling from a Western country to a country which may not be as strong economically, it’s important to have a certain level of awareness.
One of the most common examples are taxi drivers at the airport. They will be your best friend, have the widest smile, even offer you cigarettes, then can try and charge you $50+ for a five mile journey.
This is no exaggeration either, last week I met a first time traveler that landed in Bali and paid $60 for a 20 minute ride to her hostel. It helps to be aware, otherwise your trip could be cut a lot shorter than you hoped.
It is an unfortunate situation which is much larger than a solo traveler. Wherever you travel to it’s important to stay safe, be smart, and save money to enjoy the adventure.
3. Learn to Travel By Yourself
One of the main concerns I regularly hear about traveling alone… is being alone. I have been asked many times if I ever get lonely. The answer yes, at first it made me uncomfortable, now I have learned to really enjoy my own company.
I read a lot of tips on how to meet people, the truth is meeting new people is one of the easiest aspects of traveling alone.
When you are in a new place and meet your first group of friends, it becomes very easy to stay together. I have met some amazing people on my trips, made some really close friendships and have very fond group travel memories.
However the reason I decided to travel solo, was to overcome fears that I had and grow as a person. It will be different for everybody who heads out alone, but learning to travel by yourself is one of the most liberating experiences you can have.
Taking public transport in a new country, or heading to remote countrysides and immersing with the local people can open up a whole new world.
Traveling by yourself can:
- Give you renewed strength and confidence in your decisions.
- Give you time to get to know yourself without the distractions
- Lead to some of the most unexpected adventures.
4. It Won’t Go Exactly As Planned… And That’s A Good Thing
Something will go wrong, and it will probably be for the best, even if it doesn’t seem that way immediately. I decided to name my blog (Mis)Adventures Abroad for that very reason.
Traveling alone can expose you to uncertainty, with so many new situations to deal with something will go wrong. You may miss a bus, end up in the wrong place, lose your phone or overstay your visa. OK I’m talking about some of my own experiences here, but for each mishap I have always been fine, learned a lesson (usually a financial one), and gone on to have some memorable experiences as a result.
Solo travel has the ability to teach us how to let go of worries and the need to control everything, leading to a healthier mindset. It can help show us that life can be fruitful when our plans don’t quite work out.
5. Long-Term Travel Isn’t an Escape From ‘Reality’ Or Responsibilities
Long-term travel can add more responsibility into life and it is not an escape from the stresses and worries either.
If you are hoping to maintain a life of travel by working online, the ‘passive income’ dream that we are sold is not the reality. For many working online it means longer hours and demanding clients. Your income, amount of security, and lifestyle is down to how hard you are willing to work.
It takes time to learn new skills and develop a portfolio of work. The motivation should come from within, with a vision, to do the long hours for the end result. As you begin to get clients, they will expect a timely and high-level of work.
The feeling of growth, becoming specialized in your area, and client satisfaction makes it all worth it.
There is still plenty of life admin which needs to be maintained:
- Organizing bank accounts
- Visa paperwork
- Medical checkups
- Monthly debit payments
- Invoicing clients/paying invoices
From my personal experience, I have become much more efficient and organized since living nomadically, enabling more freedom than ever before.
6. Try Learning an Unusual Phrase
You will learn the important phrases like ‘thank you’, ‘your welcome’ or ‘please’ very quickly, in any country you arrive.
If you can learn something unusual like; ‘Hi i’m from England, and I love doing handstands’, the reactions are priceless.
Locals will find it hilarious, and it can open up some very entertaining moments. I can assure you, it’s worth giving a go.
7. Learn the Subtle Art of Not Giving A…
Remember that everything is part of the adventure, you probably decided to travel solo for that very reason.
Little things such as your flight being delayed, the queue being real long, or the weather forcing a change of plans. It doesn’t matter, it happens and you could have an opportunity to speak to somebody new, see something new, or read some more of that good book.
Being able to simply not care when things could get frustrating can really open up opportunities for new adventures.
Some Final Thoughts
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these tips and they have been useful. Heading out alone is a completely unique way to travel, I can say it’s been a truly emotional experience.
Going out for dinner alone, talking to strangers and genuinely enjoying my own company has helped me move past many of my past anxieties. Moving through new locations with an open mind and sense of adventure is liberating.
If you have the desire to travel alone, short or long-term, there is a new world for you to explore. It won’t always be easy or smooth sailing, that’s one of the joys of traveling solo.
My biggest piece of advice to anybody wanting to travel alone, or already on the road would be:
Good things may come to those who wait, but only what is left behind by those who take action.
If you have any tips or advice for solo travelers, please leave them in the comments below, I would love to hear them.
Good luck and safe travels!