It’s just over 8 months since I left England, embarking on my adventure of a lifetime. Time has flown by, and I’m still having an amazing time! I’ve visited 6 countries in that time, with Belize, Nicaragua and Colombia getting the most of my time and attention.
In the run up to me leaving the UK people asked me if I was scared/nervous to travel alone and even now people question how it is to travel solo. Before I left England, I was so confident I had to go on this “journey” for myself, that at no point did I feel nervous (perhaps once I was finally boarding the flight).
And even now it has been the best decision I ever made! So in an effort to convince even at least one person to travel solo, here’s my run down of why you need to do it!
Do What The Feck You Want!
First and foremost, this is surely the most obvious; you can do whatever you want, when you want and how you want. Nobody is stopping you. You don’t need to confirm plans with a travel buddy or partner.
- Want to spend a day chilling by the pool, doing nothing but watching Netflix?
- Decide you want to accept a job offer teaching English for 4 months (just as I did) and change your plans all together?
- Do it, and don’t feel guilty!
And believe me you’ll need those pool days, because it’s tiring travelling constantly; always moving to new places and exploring, from time to time you’ll need a chill day.
NOTE: The other side to this, is that I’m rather concerned about my “selfishness” level increasing since I’ve now spent over 8months on my own agenda. I’ve forgotten what compromise is….whoops!
(Zephyr Lodge in Guatamala was too much to say goodbye to, and I stayed an extra 3 nights)
When you travel solo you’ll open up more to other people (travellers and locals) because you will crave the human interaction that a travel buddy would have given you. But this is a good thing, because whilst you probably will have your own travel plans and itineraries in your mind (however strict or flexible these may be), opening yourself up to more people, making yourself more approachable will mean you’ll naturally get great tips and ideas from other people as you’re on the move.
And guess what!? You can change your plans based on these inspirations because you’re travelling solo and have nobody to answer to.
Plus….think of it this way. A person sat alone is more appealing for other travellers to engage with because they’ll assume you want to chat and won’t be intimidated by you and your travel buddies potential “clique”. Cliques aside, it’s just easier for people to approach a solo traveller, right?
Engage More with Locals & Your Environment
There are some days when you’re travelling that you will be completely alone exploring a city or doing a certain activity/trek for example. This might be because you’re operating on your timeframe and couldn’t hang around for others you met in the hostel, or it may well be just that you chose yourself to have a day alone.
But even on those days you’ll still have that craving for human attention, and without your travel buddy to help tackle those map/location/activity based queries/problems, you’ll be more willing to engage with locals to ask for help.
Plus….as a solo traveller you tend to be more fully engaged in your environment, taking in the sights, smells and culture around you because you’ve got less distractions. This way I feel my memories are much more vivid of the places where I went alone.
Great for confidence, experience and language practice!
(I stopped for a chat with Leidy here and she gave me a nice pose!)
When you travel with a buddy, family or a significant other it’s easy to get anxious and feel guilty when you push for your own preferred day-trip/restaurant/activity and it turns out to be a bag of shite. It would be unhuman in my opinion not to feel guilty in that situation.
However, travel alone and all that goes away! Book yourself onto a city walking tour that turns out to be boring as hell and basically wastes half a day. Oh well… move on, tomorrow is another day! No hard feelings, you just live and learn.
Ask any of my friends/family and I don’t think I’d have been considered an “unconfident” person before leaving the UK. After all I suppose it takes some guts to quit life, sell everything and travel like I have done.
However, I feel massively more confident than 8 months ago.
Memory: After the first 6weeks of my trip, where I was living and volunteering in Belize, I set off backpacking into Guatamala. I vividly remember being in this beautful hostel in the lake town of Flores and feeling completely overwhelmed, not able to introduce myself to anybody. Eventually I built up the courage to approach two people (Adele and Tommy) I’d seen on the same bus as me and chatted to them. We ended up travelling together for the following two weeks, and it was in Guatamala where I made some of the best travel buddies so far on my trip.
Now I wouldn’t think twice about chatting to people or saying yes to any activity I fancy doing (except Scuba Diving – still not there with that being under the sea thing yet). Sometimes I don’t even bother chatting to other people because I’m content & confident being on my own, in my own space, doing my own thing and say CBA to new friends. I also give less of a shit about what people think of me than what I used to. Surely that’s classed as a benefit?
(I didn’t think twice about Paragliding – confidence king, or what!?)
Work to YOUR Budget & Plans
I’m sort of budgeting around £35-£50 per day on my travels, which is deemed by some as being perhaps slightly more on the extravagant side. But I want to do what I want, when I want and not turn down any experiences.
But if you’re travelling along, that can’t always be the case! Let’s go back to that “guilt” topic. If you stop your buddy being able to do their dream day trip or stop them staying in the hostel on the beach – probably difficult not to feel a tad guilty. And vice versa of course.
When you’re alone, you choose how much you spend and you live (or travel) with your decisions.
You Don’t Have to be Alone
The international travelling community is a great thing! Everybody is in the same, or a very similar boat. People don’t have preconceptions, people chat and share experiences freely and it’s so easy to make new friends. At various points on my trip I’ve got along with people so well that we’ve just naturally formed a small group and ended up travelling together.
But the even better thing about travelling alone, is that when that time “is up” for you and you want your own space again, that’s fine. I normally just lag behind somewhere by a day or two or get ahead of them so I can have my own space again for a while. A few weeks later you’ll meet the next bunch you want to travel with. And repeat.
(Aoife & Alan from Ireland were on a bus in Nicaragua and we got chatting. Three months later we met up again in Colombia to explore Tatacoa Desert.)
So basically, travelling alone is the best! Even when (or if) I return to the UK in the future I’ll be much more open to the idea of going away alone whether it’s simply a weekend away somewhere or somewhere long haul.
Have I convinced you to travel solo? Even if you still feel nervous, just do something small for yourself, like book a cheap weekend away, or go camping in the Lake District for example. There is a whole new type of travel experience out there awaiting you!
And let me honest, there are some downsides to solo travel, but I’m not going to mention them because, for me, undoubtedly the experience has more positives than negatives.
Let me know your travel plans, inspiration and how it goes below in the comments. 🙂