*Written by Kayla*
Is it scary? Don’t you feel lonesome? Oh, it must be so exhilarating! Good for you, this is the time to do it! Takes an especially strong kind of person to do that… but be safe out there, please!!
All phrases I’ve heard many times in the past few years, ever since I went on my first solo adventure, a 5-week road trip around the United States at the age of 19. Though, it’s not as scary and as unreachable as some may perceive it to be. Using the past three years of my solo travel experiences, I am here to give you the truth about what it’s like to travel alone as a young, predominantly introverted, yet incredibly strong female.
Personally, I am a very spiritual person. I trust the Universe and my Self to guide me in the direction I am meant to go in. Of course, I value my life and my well-being, but I have not felt strong fear towards the world, traveling alone or being abducted, or anything worse than that. The conditions of the world may be perceived to be getting worse and worse, horrifying in some cases, but this can be greatly attributed to what is shown in the media. Many people see these events and are afraid to travel, or they would just rather stay safe at home. Understandable, but my desire to experience and learn about the planet that I was created on and the people whom I am ‘one’ with overrides the feeling of hesitation, BY FAR.
I strongly believe that a positive mindset and trust in yourself and others can take you far… I mean I’m writing to you from Ireland for goodness sake! The life that I have manifested and created for myself is all a result of my strong will, ability to ask for help, and of course the ability to say, “Feckit, I’m doing it!”
So, now that I have [hopefully] sparked some inspiration and courage within you, here are some advantages and disadvantages of traveling solo:
Let’s begin with the
Let us address loneliness; it happens and it’s natural! As an introvert, it’s probably likely you’ll feel a similar amount of loneliness back at home, so take this time to either nurture your solo side or step out of your comfort zone and work on your socializing skills! I’ve grown a lot as a person by doing this. As an extrovert, you probably won’t have a difficult time having interactions that fill the emptiness or finding people to hang out with. The world is as friendly and open to experiencing you just as much as you are! When in doubt, call up a friend or family member, that will always make you feel better.
Lack of people to share immediate, first-hand experiences with. This piggybacks off the previous loneliness topic but it can be much more fun to have someone you love to share a once in a lifetime experience with. Stories are never the same as the real thing, and to be honest, I’m not one who loves to tell a million different people stories of how my trip was when I get back. I went, I experienced, I’m back, I’m moving on to the next adventure. This can be fun for some though, and honestly, these experiences will be great conversation starters in the future.
The feeling of fear is inevitable, but it’s how you deal with it that really impacts you. I felt fear of the unknown, yet a desire to experience it, when my best friend [who is living in Dublin] and I parted ways at my bus stop. Knowing I wouldn’t have her by my side as I navigated my way around the rest of the country was a bit unsettling, but we humans have so many resources nowadays to ease any frantic feelings. It’s also important to feel the feelings and accept them, don’t suppress them. ~ Are you going to avoid certain things because of this nagging fear that you’re going to make the wrong choice, get lost, or run into the wrong people? I’ve had this experience, but following your intuition and knowing that it WILL be okay in the end is important. Travel is a LEARNING experience. Face those fears head on and take their power away. Use that energy to confidently make the most of your time on Earth.
Drinking and partying is MUCH riskier. Unfortunately, especially if you’re a female. You may be tempted to go out and have a grand ol’ Irish time or take advantage of the hype on Bourbon Street, but give yourself a safe limit and STICK TO IT. Impairing your judgment is dangerous when in a foreign place with foreign people (I mean, it is in any situation). It can be a good idea to befriend another woman (or another man, or another person) that seems genuine and trustable at the hostel or B&B you’re staying at, to utilize as a point of contact just in case anything goes awry. Still, you are your heaviest anchor so when unsure, stay away from the substances and from the sketchy strangers!
It often takes longer to get the hang of navigating, communicating, and problem-solving. You definitely have to put in more work to have a smooth experience, and even if you plan to the T, it can still not go the way you planned. It can definitely be stressful not having an extra set of hands, eyes, and vocal cords to help you find a certain place or figure out which bus to take and where/when to take it to and from.
You get to plan your days however the hell you want! No more compromising with your travel buddy(s) on which mode of transportation to take, which museum to visit, how late you’re staying out, or what time to wake up the next morning. You call the shots, freedom!
It’s easier to make friends because you’re the only one experiencing and making judgments (not the rude kind, I mean). Meet a really cute human who wants to take you out for coffee and you want to say yes? Go for it, you’re not leaving anyone behind! This could turn into an amazing day/night out on the town and even a lifelong friend. If you end up not liking them, you can politely ditch and never see them again.
The most wonderful feeling of liberty and strength is born when adjusting to an unfamiliar territory, which boosts your confidence tremendously! Departing from the plane, train, taxi or bus into a new place… figuring out how to navigate it… learning the norms of that society… befriending locals… it makes you feel like you can do anything.
Often times it’s more difficult, expensive, and time intensive to travel in larger groups. If it’s just you, you can zip around in crowds, find a good seat on the bus or in a restaurant/café/bar, or have an intimate tour [like I did today in Waterford, it ended up being just me, so the guide and I got to talk more than we would have if I was in a group].
Hostels are your havens. Hostels are inexpensive, fun ways to stay in a city or town and get to know other [often solo] travelers. I’m still in contact with some people that I have met in hostels! They’re also very useful sources of information, help, and entertainment if you need it. Many have bars or cafes attached to make mingling easy, as well as laundry, gym, and tour services available.
IT GETS BETTER EACH TIME! Like I said earlier, these are learning experiences. You will learn so much from different walks of life that you can carry on to the next destination. Have a bleh trip? No worries, there’s always next time 😉
And with that, I must head off to watch the futbol game at a pub down the road from my hostel here in Waterford. Two beautiful cyclists who just arrived [also my room mates] invited me, so of course I’m saying YES!