As continue down my top five list of most frequently asked travel questions, we venture into the realm of solo traveling. Because many of you who read my blog also follow me on social media, you are aware that I have taken many trips near and far by myself. Because of this, I am frequently asked: How do you travel by yourself? Aren’t you scared? Isn’t that boring?
The short answer is no, I’m never scared to travel by myself and no I am never bored. I absolutely enjoy solo travel and I do understand that most people are apprehensive, as they feel safer in the company of at least one other traveler. I think I can attribute my guts and enjoyment of solo travel to my military career. I began my military career at the age of 18 and found myself the day after Christmas at JFK making my way solo across the Atlantic to my first duty station in La Maddelena, Italy. A tiny Island that I have blogged about before. Additionally at the age of 18 I lived in Italy in my own apartment for 2 years, so let’s just say fast forward 15 years later, I’ve got the hang of the solo thing.
I most certainly understand the apprehension about solo travel, but I can almost guarantee you that solo travel is one of the most liberating things that you can do in your life time. Solo travel is a time of self reflection and discovery, a time of inner peace and calm, as well as a time to really have an adventure. Let go of the idea that something is going to go wrong, or even that you are going to get hurt. Do not attach those negative thoughts to solo travel because negative things can happen anywhere including your own neighborhood. Now I’, not telling you to throw caution to the wind, as you are traveling solo you do fall into a demographic to be targeted, but by exercising the same amount of caution and awareness you do in your own country, you will minimize the risk of bad things happening in a foreign country.
How do you truly know if you’re ready for Solo travel? Surely you do not want to buy a ticket half way across the globe only to discover that you hate the sight of your own shadow and fall into a depression about going home? Am I right? For those of you who are curious and bold about going on a journey that will transform your life, I do suggests doing a test run at home before you jump into the big leagues of solo globe trotter.
First, things first , you must test if you are comfortable in your own company, as solo travel requires that you spend lots of time with yourself or making new friends, Many believe that the cure to solo travel is a outstanding people person personality. While that is a great attribute, it’s not a must but one must be very comfortable in their own company and that my friends is not negotiable. So, on to testing this theory.
These are some of the things I have done by myself in my own city: movies, dinner, drinks meeting new people, parks and social events to name a few. If you read any of those and said no way! Chances are you are not a good candidate for solo travel. But just to be sure I would advise anyone who is curious and think they would like to do a solo trip to first start doing things by yourself at home. Go to a local restaurant solo and order a meal, dine in by yourself. Go to a local bar order a glass of wine and sip by yourself. If the thought of this freaks you out, you’re not ready. If you do follow through and you feel uncomfortable and wish you had someone to talk to you may not be ready either. But if while having dinner you do not feel awkward, you strike up good conversation with the waiter and before you know it, you have paid your check and you’re out the door, Solo travel may be on your horizon.
What many of you who ask me if I’m not scared or bored to travel solo don’t realize is that I don’t do anything abroad that I don’t already do in my own city. I love to explore and discover new things and not having company to me is never a good excuse not to do things. If you wait on company to do things in life you will most certainly miss out on the opportunity of a new experience and possibly meeting new people. My second tip is if you have tested out doing things by yourself or you are comfortable in your own company but you wonder about the safety of being by yourself, I suggest making your first solo trip to be in the Caribbean. Go to a resort that is all-inclusive. You get to be in a safe and controlled environment where beach and drinks are at your finger tips and you don’t have to venture much into the local surroundings unless you want to.
This kind of solo travel also allows for a solo traveler to easily meet others as the hotel often has tours that many other hotel guest take part in and are forced to interact with each other. A trip to the Caribbean is easy way to get rid of the jitters. As you graduate to solo Globe traveler, it becomes more complex. Being aware of your surroundings at all times and make smart decisions are key to feeling at ease overseas. The same rules apply when traveling to big cities abroad. Do your research, read up on the safety of the country, tips on what to be aware of etc., like in Paris there always an announcement about being aware of pick pockets, while I am very cautious of my wallet, I do not allow a caution to make me miss out on my travel experience. Remember that big outgoing personality I mentioned earlier? That comes in handy here. Be open to conversation. One of the best parts of solo travel is striking up a conversation with a stranger, learning you have many things in common and returning home with a lifelong friend abroad.
Lastly I do not ever get bored on solo travel. I try to fill my days with many of the same activities I would have done if I was with a travel companion or a group of friends. However, I also try to get some much needed R/R on a solo vacation. I cannot tell you how many times I go on vacation I come back even more tired than when I left because my days were so action packed. Solo travel gives you the ability to cater to your own schedule, your own likes and your needs. Traveling in a group requires many compromises etc. that is a nonfactor in solo travel. Oh, by the way don’t worry about how you are going to capture that perfect picture for Instagram if you’re by yourself. This is where asking a stranger to take a picture comes in, most times it leads to making a new friend, and if all else fails travel with your selfie stick!
Thanks for reading and I hope you got some tips on how to kick off your own solo traveling career. You may have noticed that I didn’t go the usual caution ahead, safety first, watch every bend and curve route. Use common sense, if you feel unsafe do not proceed and use your best judgement as you do at home. The idea is to get you to be comfortable in your own company and the rest will surely follow. Happy Travels!