We all have a dream travel list. There are tons of places I still want to explore. But some of those spots aren’t places that my friends want to go. That’s why I’ve gotten into the habit of traveling solo. This habit didn’t come about easily. All of my closest friends had gone to Europe already by the time I had saved enough money. I was itching to go, so I realized I’d have to go it alone. I was in love with the idea of backpacking Europe. I had already studied abroad in Japan, but I lived with a host family and had classmates from my high school there. I was brave enough to travel back-and-forth to my host family’s house alone, but that felt different than true solo travel.
Going to another country where you barely speak the language is terrifying. I started reading magazines, guidebooks and anything I could get my hands on to help prepare for my backpacking trip. I read and planned until I got tired and stopped. (more on that later) The toughest part was getting over the fear of the unknown. If you’ve never traveled alone, the first time will be confusing at first. You’ll have a big learning curve within days.
So how do you know if solo travel is for you? You have to have a positive mindset no matter what. I think it’s something everyone can do, but you have to be ready for it. If you think about solo travel with dread, you’re not ready. It’s okay to be nervous, but if you’re not excited at all, that’s not a good sign. Most people like being surrounded by friends and family. We’re still social animals. The good news is traveling alone doesn’t mean you’ll actually be alone the whole time. On my trip, I was with people when I wanted to be and alone when I wanted to be. There are many other solo travelers in popular destinations, men and women.
Even now when I go on group trips, I plan a day or half-day to explore on my own. That’s how I feel I really know a place, because I can pay more attention and take everything in. Solo travel isn’t weird; people do it everyday. It’s freeing. You don’t have to coordinate with a bunch of other people. You can go wherever you want and it does make you appreciate traveling with friends even more.
If you’re thinking about it and want to get more comfortable with the idea of solo travel, challenge yourself before you leave home.
Challenge Yourself To:
- Go on a short day trip solo
- Go somewhere you’ve already been, but solo
- Read about others’ experiences
- Research taking a tour or volunteering (you’ll meet people automatically)
- Research the places you want to go
- Read books and articles about travel
- Watch videos or travel shows about your dream destinations
Don’t be afraid to explore on your own. There’s too much world out there to miss.
Leave a comment. Do you think you’re ready for solo travel? Is it something you’ve wanted to do and put off?
Photo by: JR Wooley