Hello guys! I realised that I have not posted for a while but I was traveling and I didn’t feel like I wanted to stress about posting regularly while traveling. Anyway, I noticed that when I talk to new people during my travels I get to hear the same questions quite a lot. Questions about traveling solo, which I would never think of asking anyone to be honest but apparently for people who have never travelled by themselves, traveling solo seems to be a big deal.
And since over the past years I have been asked the same questions loads of times, I have decided it might be a cool idea to answer all of your questions about solo travel in a blog post. And I also added a few that I thought might me interesting if you are considering traveling by yourself. Let’s go!
When was the first time you have travelled solo?
Not really a backpacking trip but when I was 15 I moved to the United States for a year by myself. While I was staying at a host family there and going to school, I still didn’t know anyone at first so I do consider this my first solo trip. My first ever backpacking adventure, however, was back in 2014. I was 18 and just finished High School and decided to go to Australia for a year.
And honestly that was the best decision I have ever made in my life! And this is also where my whole travel obsession started and I made it a priority in my life. Basically the whole year was there to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Now 4 years later I still have not found an answer to this question to be honest.
Isn’t it scary to travel by yourself?
No, not at all! Or at the beginning maybe a little bit. Since I used to be a really shy person and I couldn’t even make a phone call by myself I was really worried I would not be able to meet new people. But honestly, a few weeks into travelling and I was a changed person and haven’t looked back since. I’m sure it’ll be the same for you.
Why do you travel by yourself?
This could be an entire post by itself because there are a lot of reasons why I travel solo but let’s make it short. First of all, I’m someone who likes to spend time by myself, so I don’t constantly need to be around people all the time. But more importantly if I travel I want to be able to go wherever I want and not have to compromise all the time.
If I don’t like a city, I will just book a short last-minute bus somewhere else and it’s sorted. I can be as flexible as I would like to. It also happened to me before that I was hanging out with people while traveling that had a higher budget that I did.
Therefore, they would rather go to expensive bars and restaurants or take a taxis rather than walk for half an hour. I like to travel on a budget, and if someone wants to spent more money that’s fine but I just could not travel with them long-term. That would just lead to arguments eventually.
I also think as a solo traveler you are more often more open towards connecting with new people and not only sticking to your original group. And I like to meet new people when I travel so I prefer to travel solo.
Doesn’t it get lonely sometimes?
Of course it does! Even though it is really easy sometimes to make new friends, other times it is just not happening. Especially if you are only surrounded by people in a big group that only speak their native language you do feel quite lonely. But then again, you can’t expect every day of traveling to be perfect.
Especially if you travel long-term, there will be days where you will feel down or where nothing works out as planned. But personally I like to be alone sometimes, I don’t want to be around people all the time so I don’t really mind as much when I don’t meet people all the time.
How to you meet people while travelling alone?
I have pretty much met people at the most random places. I have made friends at airports, elevators or while having dinner but that isn’t the norm. Usually I meet most people in the hostel, preferably in the dorm. If the people in the dorm aren’t my cup of tea, I like to join activities from the hostel such as pub crawls or free walking tours or any tours in general. If there is a common social area it is also sometimes really easy to make friends.
Just compliment someone on their outfit or the book they are reading and sometimes that leads to a whole conversation and that might lead to you guys signing up for the same tour on the next day. Who knows!
In general as a solo traveller, I feel like it is a lot easier to connect to other solo travellers than groups. Mostly because they will be in the same situation and are also looking to make new friends.
What are some safety tips you have for solo travel?
When traveling solo I follow the same safety tips I would as when traveling as a group. However, I would be more careful about where to get cash out or in which areas I will walk at night.
If I’m in a country where I know I have to be careful in certain areas, I would make sure to find someone to take a taxi with me. Or an Uber if I know Taxis are not safe. In general, if I don’t feel comfortable in an area I will make sure to leave all my valuables looked up in the hostel and don’t take my phone out in public.
Sometimes I would rather book a more expensive travel option so I can avoid getting to a new place by dark. But in general, I just listen to my gut feeling, which always worked out well so far. I have never gotten anything stolen or gotten myself in an uncomfortable situation while travelling.
What’s been your favourite destination for solo travelling so far?
This will probably change as I travel to more countries in the future, but for now I will have to say Panama. Even though I would not recommend Panama for first time travellers. The reason why I would say Panama is because I have met a lot of solo travellers there which made it really easy to make new friends.
While it is not the safest country, it is considered a lot more safe than most of Central and South America. Panama has a great local transport system and it is still affordable enough to join a lot of tours and be part of activities to meet new travellers. Also most people I met, where experienced travellers and have travelled before so they seemed more open to meeting and socialising with new people.
But that is just my opinion. Why I though Australia and Thailand where amazing places for first time travellers, I found a lot of groups travelling in South East Asia. Australia on the other hand was great for meeting people but their high prices made me think about budgeting all the time so I was limited on the amount of activities that I could join. What’s your opinion about that?
Isn’t it more expensive when you travel by yourself?
No, not really. Unless I want to stay in a private room and book private tours, then probably yes! In general, I would say if I stick to the normal budget travel tips and join group tours I would pay the same price as someone traveling as a group.
Only if it comes to getting a guide, or taking a taxi or taking a tour with a minimum amount of participants it will be more expensive! I don’t usually get guides or taxis by myself so I don’t feel like it is more expensive to travel by myself as long as I stick to my own budget travel rules.
What are the downsides of travelling by yourself?
I think mostly when it comes to eating out, it can be annoying to be by yourself. I don’t might eating by myself but if a restaurant looks more fancy instead of only being a street food truck I feel really awkward eating out alone. So if I don’t meet people to have dinner with I just eat random stuff from the supermarket or end up at McDonald’s to be honest.
Another downside of solo travel is joining a tour but you don’t know how high the demand is. I usually join a tour to meet new people, but it happened to me before that I was the only one at a cooking class which was just really awkward at first. Now, I’m a bit more sceptical if I want to sign up for a tour and I’d rather ask how many people have signed up before already.
Has solo travelling has had any impacts on your life?
In so many ways! I have become so much more spontaneous and I have also changed my way of how I look at life. Living out of a backpack for so long has made me realise that it isn’t about material things and also travelling to poorer countries has made me appreciate what I am doing with my life and what I am able to do so much more.
Also meeting so many people who live a life on the road has opened my eyes to so many more possibilities. I have learned that I don’t have to do what everyone else is doing and that it is okay to try to do something different. It might actually work out. Because I travelled, I also did my whole study abroad, started this blog and made traveling a priority in my life. So yes, it has impacted my life!
Do you agree and/or disagree with anything I had to say? What is your opinion about solo travel? I’m curious, so let me know in the comments down below 🙂
Until next time x
Hey Becky. Great read. As a solo traveler now in my six month in Vietnam but also retired from 20 some years doing IT I can relate to most of your discussion. One thing that has been frustrating is that a lot of tours are really geared for two people. Some of the things I have really wanted to do so I pay more. Others I figure a cheaper alternative.
I’ll be leaving Vietnam for Cambodia for 4 months in just a few weeks and then have booked my travel half way through 2019. I also travel very slowly. I spent three months in Hanoi. I’ll spend 3 months in Malaysia and hopefully be joined by a Vietnamese friend there.
Finding Vietnamese friends here has been a lot of fun. I have been fortunate to meet people from Hanoi to Can Tho.
On the loneliness thing. Only once did it happen in my six months. I went to a mall in Ho Chi Minh City and ate ice cream and people watched for awhile.
Hey Michael! That’s awesome, enjoy all your travels! And Cambodia is amazing. I agree with the tours, it can get really frustrating at times! I really wanted to go paragliding in Bali but it was only for two people so in the end I had to go water rafting, which I would have probably not done otherwise. And wow I didn’t know eating ice cream alone would lead to people watching haha but if only happened once for you in six months it should not be fine 🙂