Travelling solo can be the most amazing, liberating and powerful experience you can ever have in your life. It’s scary, new and makes you grow. You become a stronger person from it. But, it doesn’t come without its challenges. It’s a big learning curve.
The first time that I travelled abroad alone, I was sick to my stomach. There were so many thoughts going through my head. “Will I get bored?”, “what if I don’t like it and want to come home?”, “will I be safe?”. My mind was spinning. But, when I finally took the plunge, I realised that it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
I had a revelation; I can travel the world without having to rely on anyone else! What a feeling.
I’ve travelled solo to many countries now. Even some which people would deem ‘dangerous’ and every single time, I look back with a sense of pride. I’ve overcome my anxieties, limiting beliefs and what society expects of me and lived to tell the tale. If little old me can do it, you can do it too!
Travelling solo is a little different than travelling with people so, having learnt from them the hard way, I’ve thought of 6 problems which come with travelling solo and how to avoid them.
1. You have to pay for everything
The problem: Everything comes out of your budget. Hotels, meals, drinks all come from you. The biggest dent will be hotel bills, there’s no one to split the cost. Although this may not seem a lot of money at first, it can get quite pricey and you’ll feel like you’re burning a hole in your wallet.
The solution: One of the biggest tips I can give anyone when travelling solo is to double your budget and half your luggage load! Try to save up as much money as you can.
A lot of hotels do single traveller room rates, so you’re not paying double for sleeping alone. You could also stay in hostels which are the perfect place for singletons. Hostels also do some really good deals on meals so you’re money will stretch further.
As I’m getting older, I just cannot deal with the lack of sleep I get in hostels anymore. But, if you’re a deep sleeper, it’s the perfect cost effective option.
To see the secret of travelling the world cheaply, click here.
Travelling solo in Dubai…the UAE is NOT a cheap place to travel solo.
2. Travelling alone on transport can be daunting
The problem: If you’re travelling on planes, buses or trains, it can be daunting to not know who you’re going to be sat next to. Especially if you’re travelling overnight. Also, if you need to get up to go to the loo, you don’t know if someone will nick your seat and even worse, steal your stuff. So, this can be a bit complicated to work around.
The solution: Personally, if I’m travelling solo, I choose to travel during the day. It’s just not worth getting stressed about travelling overnight with people I don’t know. Locals, tourists or backpackers; it’s the luck of the draw.
Usually if I’m travelling I try to make friends to chat to and have some company. Most of the time when you’re following a popular bus route through a country, you’ll meet other people travelling that way who’ll be happy for the company too.
I always make sure I put luggage locks on my bags and suitcase just for that added sense of security and peace of mind.
See my guide for surviving night buses while travelling.
On a boat in solo in Varanasi
3. You have to navigate yourself
The problem: I don’t really see this one as a problem but more of a challenge. It’s like a puzzle you have to solve. You’re in charge of the map and you have to navigate yourself. You have to research where you want to go and how to get there. You have to make sure you make it to the airport on time.
There’s no fresh pair of eyes to check you’re going the right way or a second opinion. It can give an awesome sense of achievement but also can present some mistakes. Luckily, you only have yourself to blame and you can learn from it.
The solution: Believe in yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Use Tripadvisor, read travel blogs, pin some travel lust to pinterest, or use google maps!
Did you know that the current location pin on google maps doesn’t require data or wifi? Your smart phone has GPS and so you can plan your route in the hotel on the free wifi, then follow the pin without! Life saving tip.
You can plan a whole itinerary before you leave to ensure you’re occupied. Do your research, so you know where to go. Most cities have a great public transport system and it’s one of my favourite past times to work it out. Or, simply walk around and explore off the beaten track places by foot!
Click here to see the 5 best apps to use when you travel.
Finding the John Lennon Wall was a challenge, I used the wifi in Mcdonald’s to try and navigate but in the end I just asked locals who were happy to help!
4. You don’t have anyone to take pictures for you
The problem: Ah, solo travel photos. It can be a problem if you want to get photos taken when you’re on your own. When I first went travelling solo I didn’t even think about taking photos. I was more concentrating on staying alive (lol). But, as I travel solo more often now and I’ve created my travel blog this was a challenge I had to overcome.
I could ask people to take my photos all the time but a) I feel bad about asking and taking up someones time, b) it’s not how I imagine it’s going to look in my head or c) the person taking it completely misses out some of the attraction (not that I’m not grateful but how can you miss out the top of the Eiffel tower?! Lol)
The solution: As I knew I wanted to get solo travel photos I bought an Olympus Pen DSLR camera with wifi capability and a tripod. I then use a remote shutter off my iPhone so I know what the picture looks like. There isn’t any magic pixie following me around. Most of the pictures on my blog and instagram are taken solely by me. It was a complete game changer and meant I could take travel photos alone easier.
Sure, people laugh and stare, but i’ve gone past the point of caring. I have as much right to get a photo as the next person.
If you’re not ready to take the plunge into remote shutter shooting, when you’re asking for a photo just communicate with the person taking it. What do you want in it? How do you want it? The person taking it won’t know unless you say!
As my camera was broken at the Taj Lake Palace, I asked a lady at the dock to take some photos for me. Luckily, as she worked here, she knew exactly how to make the perfect pose! We had a lot of fun and took a few shots.
5. You can get lonely
The problem: Travelling solo can be novel for the first day or two but after a while you need some human interaction! There have been many times when I’m travelling solo when I’ve thought “oh, it would be good if x was here”, “if x was here, we’d have such a laugh”. Not talking to anyone for a whole day can feel like a lifetime if you’re used to having people around.
The solution: Be open, confident and talk to people. The amount of times I’ve made friends in India by just talking to people is crazy.
Go to hostels or traveller bars and cafes to make friends. Hire a tour guide to know more about the place and have a chat. It can be difficult in the cities but there will always be people and a thousand possibilities!
If you really don’t want to, arrange a video call back home. It’s so easy to keep in touch noawadays. Technology has come along way from landline phones or post! Although sending postcards is fun too :).
Click here to see the 21 things that only travelling can teach you.
I travelled alone to celebrate Holi, but I made friends in Pushkar to party with!
6. You have to eat alone
The problem: This used to be my biggest worry when travelling solo. I’d hate it when I walked into a restaurant and have the stares. The pitiful eyes, the confused looks. I’d also feel bad about taking a table solo by the window. It can be scary eating alone, especially in a new country you don’t know!
The solution: Own it and be confident. Who gives a sh*t at the end of the day. You’re never going to see these people again so just enjoy it. Order the meal platter, eat a desert and toast your damn self!
If you did want some more tips to dine solo see; ‘Eating at restaurants while travelling solo…Like a Boss!’
Eating alone at the super posh RAAS in Jodhpur, what a view!
Sure, travelling solo comes with a few extra challenges that you will need to iron out but once you’ve mastered it and know what to expect, it is truly liberating. You don’t have to answer to anyone, you can do what you want, when you want to and it’s incredible!
I wouldn’t give up my solo travel experiences for the world as I feel it’s made me a stronger person and it’s forced me to get over some of the fears I never even knew I had.
So, get out there and see this beautiful planet we live in, even if it’s alone. Take a leap of faith and trust; the universe has your back!
If you want some more inspiration click here to read the awesome reasons why you should try travelling solo!
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Do you have any worries about travelling solo? I may be able to help! Or, does anyone have any tips for solo travellers? Comment below!