I love traveling solo. Let me repeat that for the people in the back. I LOVE traveling solo. It gives me the freedom and flexibility to be the indecisive, awkward turtle-duck that I am (extra points if you get that reference). I can just pick up and go without consulting another human about making a decision. And there a lot of advantages:
- You interact with more people. When you travel in a group or with a friend, you tend to interact with said group or friend. It’s not that you can’t still meet people at the hostel, but when I’m traveling alone I definitely feel more motivated to make new friends.
- You can change your mind as many times as you want without affecting others. As an incredibly indecisive person, this is critical. Now that I’ve been staying in one place for more than a few weeks, my friends have definitely begun to notice that I am bad at decisions. Thankfully, I haven’t scared them away yet…but they might learn…
- You don’t have to herd cats to get out of the door. Okay…maybe you still do if you’re going on adventures with other backpackers. But I still feel like at any point I can throw up my hands, say “Not my monkeys, not my circus!”, and go on my merry way.
- You don’t have a schedule if you don’t want one. When I’m on my own I feel like I can be as rushed or as lazy as I please. I don’t have to fit my own sightseeing desires in with someone else’s.
However, as with anything there are some disadvantages. In my case, some of them have been magnified by the process of working alone for several weeks during my travels.
- You get lonely. I’ve seen several blogs and vlogs that have told me that you never get lonely in the hostel. Maybe that’s true for those people, but it wasn’t for me. I get homesick. My bad days are usually extremely inconvenient when it comes to phoning a friend from home because everyone is asleep. Things are better when I have friends at the hostel, but I still miss having my bestie a five minute drive away. So yes, it does happen sometimes. If you miss home, you’re not a failed backpacker, you’re just human.
- Feeding one person is somehow more difficult than feeding two or more. You would think differently! But no! Feeding one person is really annoying! It’s so much easier to share groceries with at least one other person. Sharing means you can actually assemble a decent meal rather than eating peanut butter all the time.
- Sometimes you miss things that another person might have clued you into. Everyone has different interests. When I was in Firenze, I didn’t even know about the Uffizi. If it hadn’t been for my bestie, I would have completely skipped this amazing gem of a museum! Sometimes you just need the added perspective of another person to discover sights you never would have found on your own.
- You don’t have anyone to help you keep track of your sunglasses. Okay…this one might only apply to me…but I have already lost two pairs of sunglasses on this trip and I might need some adult supervision.
Even with those disadvantages, I have no regrets about taking this journey on by myself. When you travel solo, you have a lot of time to be inside your own head. Sometimes I hate this. It’s made me question a lot about what I want in life because…well now I have the time and space to ask those questions. But it’s helping me learning a lot about myself. Like how I can only actually enjoy clubbing like…once or twice a year…and it should be avoided at all other times. And no matter how hard I try, I will never be a night owl. Oh! And I REALLY can’t deal with winter anymore.
As someone who is accustomed to being single and living alone, it wasn’t a huge leap to do the same thing in another country. It’s a bit different without my usual entourage, but it’s the change of scenery I was looking for. And now that I’m back in the hostel world, I hardly spend any time completely alone anymore (for better or worse). When you travel alone, you’re going to have good times and bad times. But that’s life for you. At least I’m learning from all of my ups and downs along the way. Even if I’m not learning to ALWAYS CHECK THE HOSTEL FOR MY SUNGLASSES! Seriously…where did I put them this time?!
If you’re thinking about a solo trip here are some of my tips:
- Bring a packable hobby. Now…to be fair my ukulele’s packability is…debatable at best. It’s tenor-sized, which means it’s the second largest ukulele you can get…a smaller one might have been a better idea. I’ve also seen a number of backpackers knitting in the hostel. Makes me wish I’d brought my crochet!
- Take yourself on dates frequently. This is a habit I’ve gotten used to by being single and super not ready to mingle. Just because you’re alone, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the finer things in life. Even if you can’t find hostel buddies, go take yourself to get that cappuccino. You deserve to watch as beautiful sunset! You are worth it!
- Take rest days. If you’re having a great time meeting people in your hostel, great! If you’re hiking mountains everyday, that’s wonderful! But if you’re getting exhausted, take a break! If you’re on a long trip, you don’t have to be adventurouseveryday. It’s exhausting having new experiences all the time. Taking time out to absorb them and maybe write them down in a journal is all part of the experience.
- Treat yourself. Most backpackers are on a budget. But you should do everything in moderation…including moderation. I’m not saying you should blow all of your money in one go. But if you’re sick of the dorm, maybe spend a few extra bucks on your own room. It’s okay here and there. It helps you stay refreshed and ready to keep exploring. And you’re supposed to be enjoying yourself right?
Have your own travel tips for the solo adventurer? Simply want to say hello? Leave a comment below!