Growing up I was definitely the last kid ever, on this earth, the next and the one after, that you would think of in connection with a solo travel trip. Seriously.
I was always shy, geeky, awkward and a big worrier. I loved having a friend to cling onto, someone to hide behind, who could keep the world at bay.
So, when I declared to my mum that I planned to go to the literal other side of the world, alone, without a single friend in sight, i’m pretty certain she thought I had been abducted by aliens and brainwashed.
In reality, I had just got off a long phone call with my sister, aka the solo travel queen, and the one single person who probably should be writing this blog post today, but hey ho sorry guys you’ve got me instead. Anyhow, my sister managed in the space of approximately 1 hour and 33 minutes to inform me that a)solo travel is not as terrifying as you think it is and b) loads of people do it.
Another hour later, and I found myself booking a ticket to Sydney, Australia, whilst simultaneously trying to convince myself not to throw up.
Now this post isn’t here for me to talk about Australia or all the best spots to hit, thought do comment below if you’d be interested in that, i’m always open to suggestions. More this is a post to talk about what it’s really like to travel alone, as a young woman in complete unknown territory. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t see myself as a guru or expert on the topic and I am fully aware that there are some serious badass women out there doing way more exciting things than I did. Instead, I simply want to shed a little more light onto a topic that people still seem weary of, because trust me if I can do it, anyone can
It can get lonely, sometimes.
This is the main issue that I think seems to stop a lot of people from trying solo travel, and i’d be lying if I said that a trip alone never had lonely moments. Sure, there are times when it would have been nice to grab dinner with a friend, other than sit at a table and order a veggie burger for one with a waitress who looks at you like literal billy no mates. It can suck.
But, I actually think knowing that I can handle the loneliness, and even sit with the feeling without feeling like the world is going to end, is a super important skill to have. It made me proactive, it made me want to go sit with those Canadian girls at dinner who I didn’t know and then proceed to ask if I can tag along with them to the Koala sanctuary (yes this did actually happen, and you know what? They said yes).
You will make friends
Similar to the first point, but nonetheless important in its own way. Being alone is great, it can be so empowering and freeing knowing you can handle yourself in a new place. But, at the same time sometimes you want people around to share stuff with.
The truth is, you will meet a bunch of travellers just like yourself. People looking to reach out and hang out with someone else. Pretty much every hostel I stayed at I managed to make a new friend, whether it be my roommate, someone cooking in the kitchen or that guy that you kind of remember from the bus you took from Brisbane to Noosa.
Strike up a conversation, the worst that can happen is they walk away. Their loss not yours.
Actually, I got lucky enough to meet a bunch of awesome girls who I later changed my travel plans for just to hang out with them more.
Nothing will go to plan, but you’ll figure it out
In many ways, my trip was a disaster. I pre booked too many activities, spent way too much money, sprained my ankle at surf camp, hated the hostel I got stuck in in Surfers Paradise and had to rebook my flights countless times.
Traveling is messy. Bad things will happen. But the good thing? It makes you realise how capable you are of sorting all these messes out.
Before I left I had this dream image of what my trip would look like, the people I would meet and where I would go. In all honesty, parts of the trip really sucked, and I can’t say it made me fall in love with Australia, because it didn’t. But, it did make me resourceful. It allowed me to come back knowing I could handle anything, and that I didn’t need to call mum sobbing (well not always anyhow).
It can help you figure out what you want
For me this turned out to be a big benefit of solo travel. Having the freedom to choose what I wanted to do each day helped me figure out what I actually enjoy, what makes my heart sing.Having that alone time, in a place where no one knows you,is possibly one of the most freeing feelings, and perhaps it’s because of this that we can start to be our truest selves. And for me it turned out to be pretty transformative, as I found myself coming back to the UK in the works of starting a new adventure and life down in Devon.
I’m not sure if my days of solo travel are over, now i’ve got an Andy in tow. I’d like to think that they aren’t, I love having travel companions I do, but even if its just for a weekend away or week long holiday, there isn’t anything quite like finding yourself alone someplace new.
Thoughts always welcome, have a happy happy day people