Travelling Solo: The Art of Being Alone
Since I was a teenager, I am suffering from wanderlust. Sometimes more, sometimes less but always at least a bit. The teenage-me spent hours dreaming about being somewhere as an au-pair, that was the furthest I could think, I have never heard of gap years and travelling for more than 2 or 3 consecutive weeks was beyond my imagination anyway. It was not a thing, as far out of reach as the moon. Basically, in those dark pre-internet years everything that was not reachable by car within a couple of hours could have been as well in Australia.
So far my back ground. The world was big and I was small and only had my student card for public transportation that would bring me just as far as Düsseldorf.
One day, a friend asked me the crazy question, if I want to travel to New York with him. I was 21 and so far it was – as said – just not a thing. I basically almost never travelled without my parents and ffs not to the US! the U.S of A., into TV-Land!
Lighthearted as I am, I said without giving it much thought: yes!
We stayed in a hostel and suddenly a whole new world opened up to me; we met so many people on a solo journey that it was almost a revelation to me. I did not even consider this possibility before and seeing first hand that they all seemed completely fine encouraged me and broadened up my horizon immensely.
People who are used to travel and who are bad ass will say, oh easy peasy no biggie… but actually, it’s a fucking big deal to be on your own on a trip for the first time, relying only on yourself and most of all: being only with you! You know more than anyone else how annoying that can be!
I never had the chance to travel alone long term but I am a pro in City-Trips. I solo-travelled the hell out of Dublin, Brussels, London and Istanbul and by now, I just don’t see any reason anymore why I wouldn’t go somewhere just due to lack of company. If you wanna go somewhere, go! You are not depending on others, it’s your life, your memories, your experience! In 30 years you probably will remember that you’ve visited that city but you will most likely have forgotten who you have been with anyway, no offence homme a la poussette.
Advantages of traveling alone
While it can be nice to explore a city with a travel buddy, a solo trip has some unbeatable advantages. The most obvious is the freedom to do what every you like; no consideration, no compromise and no discussion, you can be on the ultimate ego trip and noone will hate you for it.
Alone time can be nice, to be independent and to let your thoughts go wild without anyone around who can interrupt them – perfect to sort some things out and to take a break from your life.
Travelling alone means as well taking a big step out of your comfort zone and you’ll be amazed of the confidence boost that comes with it; you managed to visit a city alone, so why you need someone to take that Yoga Class/ see that movie with? #biggirlpantiesareON
There is NOONE around that knows you, you can do whatever crazy shit you wanna do, what happened in Vegas, stays in Vegas!
Stay in a hostel. Even if you are not the type of traveller who would stay in a 12 bed mixed dorm with a shared bathroom, most hostels offer more private options. The selling point of a hostel is not only to sleep cheap (you don’t when choosing a single room anyway) but to meet people: you share the common area, the kitchen, the courtyard, whatever your hostel has, but you can meet people easily, have a little chat while cooking or watch a TV show together. Even if you are not in for company, hostels are full of people on solo adventures and noone will have second thoughts or judge you.
Eating dinner alone in a restaurant can be cool when you happen to have your big girl pants on already – the ones that allow you to go to yoga without a friend – but it can turn out as well as very intimidating and super scary. Sure, you always have the Starbucks/McDo option as a last resort to prevent your from starving, but .. well, you know, health and stuff. Hostels are having another advantage here: you can bail out of it by just grabbing something from the Supermarket and preparing it in your hostel kitchen and connect with people over dinner.
Check all your itineraries and must-do’s beforehand, fill up your agenda to the max. This relieves you from the pre-trip worry of “what if I get bored”? You won’t, you have plan a-z and if you meet cool people, you still can change everything you’ve planned and go clubbing all night long. Cause you are in the driver’s seat, you can do what YOU want. And just to be on the safe side: check the internet beforehand of places to avoid.
Take music and a book as anchors. Strolling through unknown streets and areas is always more fun with a soundtrack and a book can help you overcome all awkward feelings when taking a drink on your own, at least it is always good to have a plan B in form of a paperback.
Don’t let your solo trip be compromised by sudden irrational doubts; you want to see that exhibition but you’re not sure where the queue starts and whether it’s free or not, and anyway, everyone looks hostile and actually.. you don’t care that much about the artist after all? Go anyway! Don’t let you scare yourself off but accept the challenge, you will get out of it proud and confident.
Don’t overthink it. It’s just a few days.
What about you? Did you ever travel alone and want to share some tips and your experience? Leave a comment below 🙂