Traveling alone can be scary, nerve-wracking, and overall terrifying. That being said it can also be exciting, and exhilarating with a touch of thrill. I have traveled through some incredible places alone, with significant others, and with friends and I have to say that each one is incredibly different. I’ll talk more about the others at a later date, but for now let’s stick with the solo traveler.
A good solo traveler is one who doesn’t mind eating alone, who can talk to a brick wall, and feels the need to make everyone their new best friend. Basically, acting like a kindergartener every day of your vacation. When I was living in Los Angeles, I was living alone and while, yes, I had friends, there were always movies people didn’t want to see or events no one wanted to attend. Those moments were my first forays into going in public alone. I still had a hard time eating alone however. There was something about sitting at a table by myself that I just couldn’t get on board with.
A few years later, and after I turned 21, I journeyed to Australia. A new friend had gotten a live/work visa and was in Melbourne where a friend from LA was also living. It seemed like a perfect scenario when I was invited to visit. Of course I couldn’t just do Melbourne, which meant I needed to travel alone. In another country. Halfway around the world. I just kept telling myself, at least they all speak English, I’ll be fine.
My first actual night was in a hostel in Cairns (I wrote about that here). To say I felt out of my league is an understatement, I was terrified and that combined with the extreme jetlag made me not want to go anywhere. I spent the first day meandering around the city before deciding I was too tired, getting subway, and went back to my hostel.
The next day was a new day. I decided nothing was going to hold me back from the trip of a lifetime, not even myself. I dove the great barrier reef that day and on the way out I sat alone on the boat drinking my coffee. I looked around and saw 3 women who looked about my age and appeared to be having an incredible time. Inside, all I wanted was my own group of friends, but on the outside I put on a brave face and decided I would force them to adopt me. And that’s exactly what happened. I met a Brit and to Irish Lasses and we spent the day after the boat together, and the next night (we’re still facebook friends). It was in that moment that I realized that I could do this. I could be alone, make friends, and build my own memories.
My next stop was Uluru aka Ayers Rock. I spent my first night there alone. The compound I was staying at had a few restaurants but I decided to still keep it low key and went to an outdoor BBQ. The next day I hiked and then took a camel ride through the desert where I became friends with an Aussie, again, we still talk.
Sydney however is where I really felt like I become comfortable. I had lunch in circular quay, outside, alone. I brought a book, ordered some champagne and enjoyed the scenery. From there on I felt like I was becoming a new version of me. One that ate alone, and was unapologetic of being alone.
My journey through Australia prepared me for Europe. I booked 3 weeks that I originally intended to be mostly by myself and partly with a friend but an odd chain events occurred where my current boyfriend decided to join me (you can find those blog posts previously). I still ended up doing a few cities alone. When I got to my first destination, Lisbon, it took me a bit to get back into the swing of eating alone. Touring was easy, eating was trying. Plus this time I didn’t speak the language. Somehow, I survived, I ate, I saw, and I moved to the next city on Euro transit without a problem.
Traveling alone can be difficult though. There are a lot selfies being taken, or bugging people to take your photo. Personally, I offer to take someone’s photo and then ask them to take mine 😉 Upside is you get to do whatever you want, whenever you want and you don’t have to fit into anyone else’s timeframe. Feel like spending 4 hours in an art museum? You can. Want to cancel your hiking trip to sit at the beach? Do it. You don’t need to run things by anyone, or try to make anyone else happy. You just have to do you and make sure your happy.
Solo travel while scary and intimidating at first, can be amazing and I super recommend it. I always thought I was this confident, independent person, and after my experiences wander the globe alone, I feel like I can say that I really am. You learn a lot about who be traveling alone. And it can only make you a better you.