I’m officially halfway through my first long term solo trip! Two months flew by so fast.
A few people have asked me what it’s like and how I got over that fear of setting out on their own. So I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned so far.
1) Practice going out alone before you leave
I hear from a lot of people that one the things that scares them most about travelling solo is eating at restaurants alone. I used to feel the same way.
I actually started by going out to the movies by myself. Then I started going out for quick lunches.
Once I got going, I quickly realized eating alone was nothing to be scared about. In fact, it’s a treat!
The funniest thing is that I have had only a handful of meals alone in the past two months!
2) Book a group tour — and don’t worry about it
I started my trip with a group tour of Vietnam and Cambodia.
A few experienced travellers told me I didn’t need a group tour and that I was wasting money. I actually stopped telling people about the tour because I felt it showed people how scared and inexperienced I was.
Now that I’ve been travelling for a bit, I totally understand where they were coming from! You definitely don’t need a tour! And you can have pretty similar experiences for so much less money.
But I would not have even started this four month adventure without the security of a tour. Someone picked me up from the airport at midnight and took me to a safe hotel in a nice part of town. I had an instant group of friends to hang out with every day. And we had fun activities that were never a waste of money or time.
Taking group tours has also taught me how to travel. What kinds of things you need to book ahead of time, and what you can do last minute. How to do laundry cheaply. The fact that hotels will usually store your luggage for free. What a |home stay is and how awesome they are.
I don’t think I will do many more tours, now that I’ve started travelling independently. But I am so happy about each tour I went on!
3) Always book a place to stay with free breakfast
Now that I’m travelling independently, I make free breakfast a priority. Why? Because it’s good value? Because it’s delicious? No! It’s the best place to make friends!
Since breakfast is “free” and only lasts a few hours, everyone will be there. And many of them are going to be interesting people who are also alone.
To make sure I’m approachable, I never take anything to read. No phone, no book. Then I either ask to join someone’s table or I sit by myself doing nothing and wait for someone to approach me.
I have yet to finish breakfast alone. And I almost always end up really cool people to spend the day with.
3) Accept that you’re going to feel awful sometimes
You’re going to get good poisoning. Or wish you had help deciding what to do next. Or see a photo of your ex enjoying a beach vacation with her new girlfriend, right after you failed to get any hot water out of a hostel shower.
Whatever your dark night of the soul looks like, it is going to happen. And that’s OK, because it won’t last forever. Something else will happen soon. And it will probably be awesome.
5) Just go
“Good things always happen when you leave your room” is a little mantra I repeat to myself anytime I am feeling down. Then I get up and go somewhere. I never regret it!
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My last day in Nepal! I took two new friends on the same walk that I went on my first day. (And one guy lives 20 minutes away from me on Vancouver Island!!) We had so much fun. This has been one of the best months of my life. So much gratitude for all amazing people I've met these past 6 weeks. ♥️??♥️
What’s your advice for travelling solo?
I’ve still got two months to go. Feel free to share your advice in the comments!