Whatever continent you are crossing and whichever mode of transport you are using, there are certain things that are very consistent when travelling solo. Depending on your experience, your solo jaunt will be a daunting new prospect or just another adventure you can’t wait to get started on. Nerves are natural but you are either cut out for solo travel or you are not. So why not dive right in and find out? To help you get started here are ten things you should definitely expect when travelling solo.
– Post in collaboration with singleparentsonholiday.co.uk
1. You’ll become more confident very quickly
You quite simply have to. In fact, without even thinking about it you will find that you are following your instinct and making key decisions and getting things right – or learning as you go along. Whether it’s trying to work out a bus timetable, a menu or describing your destination to a taxi driver, you will soon be able to handle these situations with aplomb.
2. You’ll learn more about the local culture
With nobody saying ‘I don’t fancy that’ you have carte blanche to explore and you can do more things ‘on the hoof’. So check out that little café on the corner or the street market in the middle of town, and enjoy being spontaneous.
3. You’ll learn the language
Of course you have no choice and you might have done some decent preparation anyway, but being on your own brings out your survivalist instinct. You’ll be much more alert and observant and start picking up words from menus, in shops and from conversations around you, which means you can hopefully quickly interact with people and get by.
4. It’ll be more expensive
This is something not everyone realises until they are in the thick of a solo holiday: There’s nobody to share the cost of taxis, or the supermarket shop, or the hotel room. If you plan ahead, however, you might find hostels or the odd accommodation that doesn’t charge a single room supplement – especially if you travel in low-season. You can also travel as much by public transport as possible. Another way to save is by finding groups and joining them on shared excursions.
5. It’s easy to make friends
You’ll be conspicuous as a solo traveller. This can be a good and a bad thing and you need to keep your wits about you, but in general people are very responsive to solo travellers and you can use your judgement to make friends accordingly. If you plan ahead, you can find sociable hostels or group excursions which allow you to make friends easier, but put simply, if you put yourself in sociable situations, people will understand your status and start chatting and including you and often inviting you to join their little group.
6. There’ll be lonely moments
It’s inevitable that, however well you mix with people, or make friends in group situations, there will be periods of solitude during travel between places or late at night. Some people deal with these better than others, but do prepare yourself by having little things to do, bringing a book, or catching up on the local news back home.
7. You’ll need a good internet deal
Make sure you have strong, affordable and available Wi-Fi at all times. While it is great to escape all your emails and social media, there are times when you will need the internet for guidance, maps, hotel rooms and local info. And of course, in those lonely moments, a Skype call to friends or family can be just the tonic to get you on to the next leg of your adventure.
8. You’ll understand the true meaning of freedom
Not much can prepare you for that wonderfully liberating feeling of waking up in the morning and being able to do whatever you want, go wherever you want and meet whoever you want. Look after yourself in terms of food, sleep and security, but other than that you have no responsibilities, so make the most of it.
9. You’ll have fun
This goes without saying, but the key is to soak it all up and enjoy every part of it. Just getting back to your room after your first evening meal can provide a great sense of personal achievement, and every day gets better and better from there. Do things your own way, always use your common sense, and, no doubt, you will have the holiday of a lifetime and be ready to do it all again as soon as you come home.
10. You’ll come back a different person
It’s up to you whether this turns out to be a good or a bad thing, and it’s also something that you might not initially notice, but your solo travels will change you. Undoubtedly, you will come back more confident, with an eye for adventure and with plenty of stories to tell, but on the flipside you might find your regular life more mundane which might cause you itchy feet. While you adjust to life back home you need to get some perspective, be true to yourself and be understanding that not everyone has the same sense of adventure.