Why everyone should travel solo at one point in their life
Solo Travelling. Just the thought of it a year ago would have made me run a mile.
We are constantly bombarded with horror stories of how badly things can go wrong: phones pick-pocketed in Spanish metro stations; food poisoning in Thailand; UK nationals deported from Japan for trying to enter with Vicks Vapour Rub (yes, this is actually an illegal substance there!)
As someone who likes to ferociously organise every aspect of her life, the prospect of leaving home and stepping out of my rigid and comfortable routine to explore a foreign place sent an inexorable number of questions running through my head. Would I be lonely or scared? Is it safe? What happens if I need help? What do I do if something goes wrong? The more I thought about it, the more I talked myself out of the awaiting adventure.
Yet, the concerns and fears that many have are easily mitigated if one properly: researches the place they are travelling to; obtains the necessary insurance; and has a solid Plan B in case things go wrong.
Solo travelling is one of the best things that I have ever done in my life, and I believe that everyone should experience the joys of the adventure at least once.
Why should you travel solo?
- Travelling alone gives you the freedom to do whatever you want; how selfish! If you want to go exploring, you can go exploring. Want to spend a day at the beach? Go for it! You are not tied down by compromising with your travelling friends. Whilst it can be fun to have company, solo travelling means that the world really is your oyster.
- Travelling offers opportunities to meet amazing people from all over the world. You will learn to integrate with the locals, meet fellow backpackers, and befriend new people that will enrich your experience of the country.
- The experience will make you emotionally stronger. Yes, there will be parts that you find difficult, or problems that you have to solve. However, you will learn to overcome them and realise that you are stronger than you realise.
- It will force you to be flexible. For me, the newfound spontaneity that I gained through travelling solo is something that I now carry with me in my everyday life.
Needless to say, it is important to take precautions when travelling alone. If on a budget, you’re likely to be staying in hostels and utilising unknown public transport.
As a solo traveller, hostels are an excellent way to meet friends, join group tours, and find fellow travel companions. However, always remain vigilant and think about your own personal safety just as you would at home. For example, be wary of accepting drinks from strangers, never leave your personal items unattended, and always have a couple of padlocks for locking up your valuables or securing your luggage.
Most importantly, ensure that you remain in regular contact with friends and family so they know of your whereabouts, future travel plans, and itinerary. If you end up in a difficult situation it is vital to have 24-hour emergency numbers stored on your phone, have at least two forms of payment (credit/debit and cash), and photocopies of all your important travel documents, such as passports, in case items are lost or stolen.
So next time the voice inside your head is stopping you from stepping outside your comfort zone and booking an amazing solo adventure abroad, don’t let it override the thrill that you will experience when skiing through Canada, hiking the Grand Canyon, or surfing off the coast of Australia.
Be sensible, take necessary precautions, and everything will be just fine.