So you have your heart set on going somewhere but you have a problem, no one wants or can go with you. The very thought of passing up this opportunity or missing out on your dream trip can be horrible, and leave you in a devastated state with a bunch of what ifs playing on your mind for the rest of your days. But why should the fact no one can travel or join you make you miss out on what could be an amazing life changing experience? The answer is simple, it shouldn’t!
For several years I was always finding cheap getaways online and finding trips abroad which I was desperate to go on. I never did half the things I wanted to do or go to 90% of the places I desperately wanted to go to for the simple fact that, well, I didn’t want to go on my own. This held me back so much. It was killing me inside knowing that I love travelling and had a chance to visit so many different places but just couldn’t because “my friend’s couldn’t”. But not that long ago, in a spur of the moment decision I booked up a single return to Berlin. I just did it, I decided in that moment it was now or never and just went ahead with it. Shizer! That put me in a position where I had to go, or else I would lose out on money, the trip and also further potential bookings. This was a massive step in the right direction and I would emphasise that if you’re ever in that position then go ahead and do it, you will look back in the future and thank yourself for it.
Now of course the very thought of travelling alone can be daunting and scary, it’s only natural to feel that way. It’s funny that when we see a potential opportunity our minds simply focus on the negative elements rather than the positive ones. That was my problem, I grew up in a rough area so my first thought was always “what happens if someone jumps me or mugs me or something even worse?”. Obviously there are some dangers out there in the big bad world, but I’ll go into more detail further down the page.
If you are seriously looking at solo travelling then honestly go ahead and do it. The biggest regret you will have is not doing it. Honestly, you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve when you step outside your comfort zone.
One of my biggest fears about travelling alone was about meeting people. What if no one speaks English? What happens if they don’t like me? What happens if I have nothing in common with anyone? These are all genuine fears but there’s no need to panic. On my first solo trip I went to Berlin which is an awesome city! But I had all those negative thoughts about meeting people, I spent a lot of time being anxious before I left and when I got there. Fast forward 12 hours from when I first got there and I was like a zombie crawling in the door of my room at the hostel at 05:30 in the morning after having an absolutely amazing night and meeting some awesome people!
There are a good few ways to meet people when you’re travelling, here’s a little list of some:
- Pub crawl – I’ve discovered on my travels that many hostels/hotels do pub crawls within the area you’re visiting. Even if the place you’re staying at doesn’t there is sure to be one nearby. Pub crawls will cost you some cash but they are definitely worth it.
- Go online – with apps such as tinder and grindr, meeting people close to you is now easier than ever. If you want to try and get to know people prior your arrival why not try searching Facebook for the place you’re staying at to see if there is anyone else like yourself that has written on it. Online forums are usually filled with people looking to meet people, they’re definitely worth a look in aswell.
- Face to face Conversation – the hardest but at the same time easiest way to meet people. Staying in a hostel, especially in a shared room you are bound to engage in conversation with the people you’re sharing with. If you smoke, if someone is out having a cigarette at the same time you are why not try and start a conversation? Don’t be scared to talk to people in bars or clubs, or attractions. Making small talk with people can be hard but it can sometimes lead to good friendships.
Travelling by yourself can have it’s perks. The freedom of being able to do what you want, whenever you want, however you want can be amazing! Being able to just get up and do what you want without having to worry about if your friends want to do it or not is great. But, at times it will get tough. If you are going to somewhere where English isn’t the main language it can pose a whole lot of problems. Transportation, currency, and a whole load of other things can cause problems too. When travelling alone you have to make sure you are well prepared well in advance. Here are a few useful tips for planning your trip.
- Language – if it is a foreign country you’re visiting, try learning a few useful phrases before you go. Or take a back up list on your phone or on a piece of paper.
- Transportation – definitely worth a look into before you go. When I arrived in Berlin it took me over an hour to get the right train, after asking about 10 people and spending about 20 minutes on Google trying to find the right train to take. If you research what trains, buses, trams etc.. You need to take and their times before you go it will save a lot of time and stress for when you get there.
- Emergency supplies – when I travel, I always take a few extras just incase of an emergency. I take a small torch, rain poncho, hand warmers and a small first aid box. There is an extremely low chance I’ll need them and they take up a little room but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Taking things such as toilet roll and a pen and paper can always be handy depending on where you’re going aswell.
- Documentation – to be on the safe side it is always best printing out confirmations or bookings you have made. Taking more than one copy for things like your boarding passes is ideal aswell, if you keep them in separate places then in the small chance you lose them you should have a backup waiting for you.
- Know where you’re going – I know this sounds kind of obvious but it is important you do as much research before you go as you can. Finding out the distances between where you’re staying, attractions, means of transport amongst other things should give you a rough idea. Looking on things like Google maps and perhaps taking a few screenshots or printouts should also help you should you become lost or lose your Internet connection.
- Staying safe – regardless of where you’re going, you have to always keep your wits about you. Do a little reading into the area you’re going, see what places people tell you to avoid or that are high in crime. Find out if any crime in particular is common at certain places and be sure to avoid venturing into any neighbourhoods or alleyways that look dodgy. If you’re out after dark always try and stick to well lit or populated areas, and make sure you know where you’re going.
Solo travelling is honestly a life changing experience, you will be amazed at how much you learn about yourself and how much your confidence grows from doing it. You will not regret it, you’ll look back in the future and simply thank and be proud of yourself for going ahead with it. It took me years to finally pluck up the courage to do it, and since then I’ve been a further two times with another two booked for later dates. It is such a big step but it’s definitely worth it. Sometimes you’ve just got to decide to do it, otherwise you’ll look back in years to come wishing that you had. I hope this has helped and if you are going to go on a solo travel of your own, Happy travelling!
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