“The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.” – Henry David Thoreau. What a beautiful quote. I think solo adventures are amazing because not only you get to explore new places, but you also get the chance to explore your inner self, and this is actually one of the reasons I love travelling. However, always go prepared. Ask yourself the following questions to figure out if solo travelling is for you or not.
1. Do I get anxious in a new place?
Solo trips are cool and exciting until you find yourself in the middle of no where, with no one to rely on. I love going on family vacations and each year we try to go to a new place in a foreign country. My dad is always in charge with everything organisation related so the rest of us don’t have to worry about a thing. I love exploring new places with the dear ones so I though exploring something by yourself would be as fun…until I went on a solo trip to London, got lost, I was surrounded by crowds of people, I didn’t know where I was going, I couldn’t figure out public transport and had to guess my way to the National Art Gallery as I was walking around. I got really bad anxiety and wished there was someone with me there.
2. Do I have good orientation skills?
The bad grades in geography tests (I know, it is embarrassing for a travel blogger to have bad grades in geography) weren’t enough to convince me that maybe, MAYBE, I am not that good at orientation. I had to find that out myself through a real life experiment when I went on a solo trip to Bath, UK (as if the solo trip to London wasn’t enough to show me that solo adventures are not my thing), spin in circles on the streets that (were pretty) but looked all the same and trying to figure out my location through my phone, in the rain. As I was doing it I had to wipe the tears of my face, wipe the rain of my iPhone screen and try to figure out where I am going before sunset.
3. Am I afraid of being alone?
Again, an important one. I am not necessarily afraid of being alone, I actually enjoy it sometimes but I love having travel companions because having someone to talk to about the awesome things you see, doubles the joy of seeing those things (does it make sense?) – at least for me it does.
4. Is it safe?
Consider the place you are travelling to. Is it a safe destination for solo travellers? For your gender? Don’t consider going into places that have a reputation for not being safe even with a travel companion. It is important to have the courage to get out of your comfort zone and explore the world, but safety comes first. Don’t risk it. Do your research. Stay safe.
5. Have I done this before?
As I mentioned before, if you have never been on a solo trip before and you are tempted to go, do a little experiment first. It is like swimming, if you are not sure if you can swim or not, you are not going to (or at least I hope not) jump into the deep waters. No, you will take the stairs to get into the swimming pool and you will check out your swimming skills on the margins, where you can easily get out of an unpleasant situation if it turns out that you can’t swim.
6. What happens if I don’t like it?
Even if you do decide to risk it and go on a solo adventure not knowing if you will like it or not, leave enough money aside to buy your way back home early if necessarily.
7. Do I have accommodation and transport figured out?
I would suggest have that figured out always, even if you are going as a group, but it is even more important to have it figured out when you travel alone. If you are in a group and can’t find accommodation and you have to spend the night in a train station or something it is not going to be half as awful as if it would be if you had to do it alone.
8. Do I know foreign languages?
Make sure you know some basics in the language of the country you are travelling to. Don’t rely only on English because if you need help it will be in your interest to be able to talk to the locals, not theirs. Learn basic phrases like: “help”, “where is the toilet”, “accommodation?”, “where is …”, how can I get to…”, “thank you”.
9. Do I easily get home sick?
Sometimes the anxiety you get from being in a new place can very much get worse if you miss home. We all start missing home at some point but are you used to being away from the ones you love for longer periods of time? Think about the last time you were away from home and ask yourself this: “how long was I away for?”, “how did I felt?”, “did it affect my daily routine, mood or behaviour in any way?”. These answers should make it pretty clear.
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Make sure you don’t get yourself in a situation where you wished you haven’t gone on the trip. Do this experiment first: go on a one day solo trip to a city close to where you live. Even if you get anxiety its ok, because at least you figured out if solo travel is for you or not and you will be close enough to your home to be able to return if anything. But please, please, please don’t go on a three month solo-back-packing trip to a foreign continent if you have never been on a solo trip before.