Travel is always exciting. As we break free from our daily routines, we’re able to explore different cultures, meet new people and gather rich experiences along the way. Although going with friends is a lot of fun, solo travel offers an equally rewarding yet entirely different experience. Alone in a new place, we are pushed out of our comfort zone and into those opportunities that are, otherwise, out of reach.
Without the comfort of friends or family, we are challenged to befriend strangers, make our own decisions and find enjoyment in our own company. In doing so, we can build our interpersonal skills, develop a greater sense of self-confidence and become increasingly self-aware. What’s more, these benefits then start to seep into our character.
This article will outline some key tips for your first time travelling alone and encourage those on the fence to pull the trigger. In the end, it can be difficult to organise trips with others when schedules don’t align and other commitments pop up. However, this shouldn’t prevent us from going after the experiences we seek.
Travelling alone doesn’t have to be expensive. Before booking your flights, make sure you’re getting a good deal by comparing prices online. Check out Skyscanner for flights and try to book well in advance. Make sure you consider the costs as well as the ease at which you can get to and from both airports.
For your first trip alone, a hostel is the way to go. For a start – and tying in with the first tip – it is often considerably cheaper. But, more importantly, there’ll be plenty of people you can meet as well as prearranged activities to take part in, making that initial leap slightly easier. Download Hostelworld on your phone to compare and book places.
Some important things to note:
If you’re looking for a quiet or more private getaway you may opt for a hotel or an Airbnb instead. Moreover, many hostels have a guest policy so if you’re looking to have people over this is another point to consider. Finally, hostels generally attract a younger crowd, so if you’re on the older side you may want to bear this in mind.
Whilst spontaneity is great, it might be worth taking the time to plan out a few ideas for your trip before leaving. Look online to find some interesting spots to visit, food to try and cool activities that might be unique to your location (e.g. surfing, hiking). Additionally, check out Reddit or Trip Advisor and see what others are saying.
For many people, one of the scarier aspects of travelling alone is the idea of doing (or at least going to) activities by themselves. To remedy this, practice before you leave! Rather than inviting friends you could try going to a local bar by yourself, striking up conversations with strangers; proving to yourself that it’s fine to do so. Similarly, you could go to a concert by yourself and see who you meet there – you’ll already have common interests.
Often times, it’s not the flight that ends up being expensive, but the cost of bringing additional luggage. If you’re only going somewhere for a few days, challenge yourself to pack light and just bring a carry on – we often overestimate how much we’ll need.
Besides the obvious, like travel documents and clean underwear, here are a few essentials:
Plug Adapters – Do your research and get some adapters ahead of time – these are self-explanatory.
A padlock – A padlock is great if you’re staying in a hostel as there will often be lockers in your room – and, even if not, you never know when one might come in handy.
Bluetooth speakers – Music is always a good choice and can definitely make you feel more at home if you’re staying alone. Check out the UE Boom 3 for a great bluetooth speaker.
A book – Travelling is a great time to do some reading, whether in an airport, on a train or alone in a café. For some recommendations, check out our library.
A deck of cards – Cards are light, they’re good fun and an easy ice-breaker.
When you arrive by yourself, in a new place, you’ll quickly realise that to have fun it’s entirely up to you – it’s kind of like a sink or swim situation. In that sense, take responsibility and recognise that nobody owes you a good time; it’s your job to make it so. If you’re staying in a hostel, get involved. There’ll often be walking tours during the day, communal dining in the evenings as well as pub crawls at night.
In a similar vein, try and push yourself whilst you’re away. By travelling alone, most of us are pushed far out of our comfort zone. When you’re very far out of your comfort zone, going just a little further is pretty easy. If you see a cute girl in the bar you’re at, go over and say hi. Equally, if you’ve got plans for the day, see if anyone in your hostel would like to join you for them. It’s in these split decisions that we build character.
At the same time, don’t put too much pressure on yourself; it’s perfectly fine to chill out and go about your day at your own pace. One of the nice things about travelling alone is that you can do whatever you want so, don’t feel obliged to visit tourist attractions you have no interest in. Likewise, if you’re staying in a hotel, there’s nothing wrong with simply relaxing inside. You decide.
Alongside a good book, you might consider taking a journal with you as you travel. When alone, we are often confronted with new thoughts, ideas and insecurities. Setting aside some time to reflect can be a good way to process this information. Furthermore, a journal can be used to keep a personal record of your trip and help you in planning your time.
You’re bound to meet and hear from lots of inspiring people when you travel. Furthermore, you’ll likely try things that you’d never previously considered as well as see things you’d like to someday try. Keep an open mind to the opportunities that present themselves to you. The cool thing about travelling is that it puts you in a mindset of always looking to have fun which, in itself, is a great skill to practice. That said, it often requires us to step outside ourselves.