You’ve done the contiki tours, backpacked with the lads, relaxed on an exotic island with the girls and relaxed on a couple’s weekend away. Now it’s time to start your solo adventure. While it can be daunting for anyone to venture out of their comfort zone, voyaging alone forces you into situations that will make you learn more about yourself and help you grow. You’ll learn to rely on your instincts, build self-confidence and see and do things that you may have never done if you were with someone else. As with any expedition, there will be challenges that you’ll need to overcome, here are some of the most common ones from experienced solo travellers.
Meeting New People
The fear of never meeting anyone whilst travelling is a thought that crosses everyone’s mind. It’s worse for those who are naturally reserved. Trust me, I know. So how do you actually get out there and ‘meet people.’ For one, you can stay in the local backpackers in a shared room, automatically forcing you to be around people. Or you could sign up with a local tour group. Even tour specialists like Cruiseabout Australi have solo cruises just so you can be forced into bonding with other lonlies.
Being a nomad means that you are free to follow your own schedule, however, you won’t be as safe as you would being in a group. I’m not trying to put fear in your mind, I know you’ve heard the horror stories, but sticking to basic safety guidelines – the same as you would at home – will lessen your chance of finding yourself in a risky situation. It’s important to prepare and research the safe and not so safe places that you are travelling to before you go (websites like Trip Advisor will help you with this.) Along with this, you should always stick to well-lit public places, avoid showing flashy jewellery or wads of cash, be aware of common pickpocket tricks and be alert to your surroundings. If it’s within your means, complete a short self-defence class, the knowledge will stay with you for life.
Table for one anyone? There will be nights where you may not meet anyone and eating alone in the only option. Eating alone can be uncomfortable and you’ll often sit there thinking Yes, I know I’m eating alone, stop staring now! The best way to overcome this, is just to do it once. As soon as you brave this fear, you’ll realize that you were being silly and it’s not as scary as you originally thought. If you get bored you can always take a book or a notepad along with you. The most important thing to equip yourself with is an air of self-confidence. Yeah, that’s right you’re eating alone and you don’t care!
Taking Photos Of Yourself
You’re discovering the sights of the city and you’re surrounded by beautiful monuments. What better time to get a picture of yourself with these stunning mountains. Oh wait, you’re by yourself and the selfie pic just isn’t going to fit everything in. Your first option is to find someone trustworthy to take the photo for you. Emma Higgens, Gotta Keep Movin’ travel blogger, recommends purchasing an XShot camera extender; a nifty, lightweight and inexpensive piece of gear that you can attach to your camera so that you can take photos of yourself and your surroundings with ease.
Watching Your Luggage
This challenge normally occurs when you’re moving from one place to another whilst waiting for your train or bus. All your luggage is with you, but what if nature calls? You’ve generally got three options in this situation, you can leave your luggage where it is (I can already hear the no’s), ask someone to watch it or take it all with you. Firstly, let’s assess your situation. Are you currently with other backpackers? If so, then it should be fine to leave your larger luggage and take a smaller bag containing your valuables with you. If you are by yourself, I would recommend the third option, while it might be time consuming and impractical, lugging your luggage around with you is a better alternative to having it stolen at the bus station.
Do you have anything to add to the list? Tell us about your travel challenges below.