Back in 2014, I decided to take off overseas for five months… alone. * cue shock *
While solo travel is increasingly common nowadays, back then, I was the first within my friend group to try it, and it was pretty scary! I originally had planned to go with a friend, but when she pulled out at the last minute, I thought – why not just do it myself? I still desperately wanted to go exploring and figured that not having a travel companion was a pretty stupid reason not to go. So solo it was.
I packed, booked a one-way flight out of Aus and ended up having the time of my life. People consoled me before I left that it would be a great experience, but nothing they said prepared me for exactly how much I enjoyed myself. It was a crazy ride, one that was both daunting and scary, but it’s a ride I’d do over and over again in a heartbeat. Here’s what I enjoyed most about my experience with solo travel, and why you should try it too!
1. You have complete freedom
Everyone says it, but it really is true. When you’re travelling solo, you don’t need to worry about what your significant other or friend wants to do; each day is entirely up to you. You don’t answer to anyone else – you’re the boss and what you feel like doing goes!
On my solo travels, one of the things I enjoyed most was waking up each morning, thinking “what do I want to do today?” and then just doing it! I didn’t need to consult anyone, or make sure the activity was affordable – if it sounded cool and I had the money, I was there! I also loved having the freedom to be able to take a ‘rest day’ (often needed after two weeks of pub crawl after pub crawl) without worrying about boring my travel buddy. Sometimes I was my own favourite travel companion when I visited an art gallery for the day or simply lay on the beach for hours. Sleepy days solo travelling are can be so much fun.
I loved not having to worry about pleasing everyone – trying to find an activity that suits an art lover, a foodie and an adventure nut can be hard, right?! Travelling solo, it was such a relaxing experience only having to consider my own desires. It’s rare that you get to do this in your everyday life, so it’s a real treat to be a bit selfish.
2. You try new things
Having complete control over my itinerary actually opened me up to WAY more experiences and pushed me outside of my comfort zone.
I was a bit worried when I first started out that I might be tempted to play it safe without others around me to convince me into adventurous activities, but I found I was more daring because I was alone. I had to make a real effort to meet people and experience a city, and I ended up throwing myself into most opportunities that presented themselves.
I’ve travelled with friends and family, but none of those experiences has stuck in my head as much as my solo trips have. Something about doing a kayak ride or a hike when you’re by yourself is addictive and adds an extra layer of excitement.
3. You meet awesome people
You’re never really alone when you travel solo… its cliché but it’s true! At least it was for me. I met SO many random people on buses and in hostels, and they were some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. I was also pleasantly surprised by just how many other solo travellers there were at each hostel I stopped at. They were always keen they were to chat and hang out, and I’d have new friends with the hour.
Every solo traveller is inherently social because they have to be –if you don’t try and make new friends you’ll be stuck trying to find enough people to fill a minibus with while everyone else sets off on their day tours.
While I was travelling, usually all I had to do to meet people was walk into the lounge area or shared room and start up a conversation. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t make instant friends, I had to put in effort and make sure I chatted and got involved with hostel activities, but as long I was friendly and open to meeting people I always found new buddies. One thing you need to remember when you’re solo travelling is that no one there knows you – so don’t worry about being weird or people not liking you, chances are there’ll be someone else in the hostel who likes your strange joke about cheese. As long as I was myself, I found I always found some fun friends to explore with.
4. You can be whoever you want to be
This sort of goes against what I said about ‘being yourself’, but hear me out. One of the best things (in my opinion) about solo travel was that I could be whoever I wanted to be when I moved to a new city, country or hostel. Not that I’d do a complete 360 with my personality and go from approachable solo backpacker to well-travelled snob, I just mean that I’d have some fun with exploring different parts of my personality. One day I could be in Portugal, drinking up a storm and being the life of the party, then the next I could be in Spain, walking around Gaudi buildings before having an early night. Depending on where I was visiting and how I was feeling, I could decide how adventurous, sensible or crazy I wanted to be. I’m not embarrassed to say I usually went with the latter.
There is so much more I could list about why I loved my solo travels, but some parts of it you can’t sum up with just words. My advice? Go out there and do it yourself. Solo travel is the only way to go. For more inspo check out our blogs on ‘how to beat loneliness on your solo travels’ and ‘the top 10 destinations for solo travellers!’