When I was a little bit younger than I am now, if you would have told me that I would have lived alone in a foreign country on two separate occasions, in two different countries, I would have laughed at you. I was not a confident girl growing up; I hated doing things on my own and the thought of travelling somewhere by myself would be a very daunting one. Since then, I’ve spent 4 months teaching in Milan and a year teaching in Strasbourg and I have grown into a woman who loves travelling, whether that be in groups, with friends, or else completely by myself.
I’ve been on a few trips by myself now, most of them whilst I lived abroad for day trips, but I’ve taken the plunge and stayed in foreign countries alone for days at a time as well! I normally organise my trips in such a way that I meet up with friends along the way, but I am completely in favour of an entirely solo trip. There have been so many occasions where my friends have bailed on plans at the very last minute and left me hanging. In these circumstances it’s a case of ‘if you don’t go alone, you don’t go at all’ and I’d much rather go somewhere by myself than miss out on a fabulous opportunity. If you wait around for other people, you’ll never get anywhere.
Drop the Fear of Solo Travel
I know this is probably easier said than done but with the right amount of preparation, you have absolutely nothing to be scared of if you make the decision to do a trip solo. When deciding where to go, check out statistics and information on the safest areas to stay in your chosen city. Work out how easy it is to get from the airport to the area where you’re staying. (Story time: I arrived at the airport in Bergerac, France, in February to find that there was neither a shuttle bus, nor a taxi rank, at the airport to transport me to the city centre to get my train to my final destination. I’d just assumed that there would be! BE. PREPARED.)
You’ll meet people along the way
If you’re staying at hostels, you’ll definitely get chatting to people and probably find someone to check out attractions with, if that’s something you want to do. I’ve met people from all over the world through travelling and working abroad, people I still see to this day. If you’re scared of being lonely, there’s always a way around that. If solo travel sounds daunting, it won’t do by the time you’ve finished.
You learn things about yourself
I have learnt so much about myself and my own needs whilst travelling. I learnt that I have a fascination for architecture and could happily wander around a new city exploring the buildings and the exteriors for hours and hours at a time. I discovered that I love history and learning about the extraordinary history of a place- the quirkier the better. I learnt that relaxing in front of a beautiful building with a book is an ideal thing to do when you have an hour to kill between trains. I have learnt so much about myself that I probably never would have had I not had the opportunity to travel by myself.
Solo travel is all about you
One of the only things that annoy me about going on holiday with friends, especially if I’m going on a city break as opposed to a beach holiday, is the discussion over what to do and when to do it. I’m very much an early-riser when I’m on holiday; I like to be up, showered, dressed and out of the hotel as quickly as possible when I’m travelling, to avoid the massive queues at tourist attractions and there’s always the worry that the friend won’t want to get up and get out like you do. I also like to explore cities seriously and properly, visit museums and learn all about the history of a place: deciding on where to go when there’s more than one person involved in the deciding can often prove tricky, especially if you have different interests. Cut out the middle man and see what YOU want to see.
Solo travelling can be daunting but it’s also the best experience of your life. I can’t wait to start planning my first ever long haul solo travel jaunt next year! Have you been anywhere on your own? How did you feel? Let me know in the comments!