My First Solo Trip • Adulting 101

Hello world,

Let’s talk solo travel.

I’ve traveled alone before, however it was always part of a program or meeting up with friends at the location. I have never been on my own from start to finish fully responsible for myself.

Admittedly, the prospect scared me a bit beforehand: Would I be lonely? Would I feel uncomfortable? Would I regret going and be stuck in a foreign country?

No!


Going on a trip all by myself turned into one of the best trips of my life. It was truly eye-opening and something I would recommend everyone, especially every woman, to do at least once. It might not be your way of travelling, but it also may be just what you have been craving unknowingly.

Let me thus clear up some wrong expectations and assumptions concerning solo travel (as a woman).

  1. Solo travel does not mean travelling lonely. I instantly made friends before even having the time to feel lonely. Everyone going abroad is naturally open and eager to meet new people, particularly if you or they are a solo traveler. I now have new friends from Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., and Hungary; friends I would not have made had I not gone solo.If you are still worried, there are a couple of ways to ensure meeting others:
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    Stay at hostels.
    Join tours.
    Stay active. Go out. Take classes. Get out there.
    Do not be afraid to walk up to people. There is nothing truly bad that could happen.
    English only. For all German tourists, please do not just find each other and stay together. Branch out.
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  2. No one cares, if you are by yourself. I ate alone several times, and nobody gave me any weird looks. Take a book or your cellphone along; you’ll be fine. We constantly overestimate the amounts of sh*t others give about us.
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  3. Going solo means ultimate freedom. I could do everything I wanted and nothing I did not want to. On some days, I could get up at 5am to hike up a mountain to catch the sunrise. On other days, I could decide to stay out and party. This concerns big decisions such as destinations as well as small decisions such as what to eat. Both add up to be important.Ultimate freedom is something I was not used to on trips. Each day, it was entirely up to me to make the most out of it. I love my friends, but not many of them love to hike up mountains, go to museums, spend money on good food, be outgoing, and go out. With friends, it always comes down to compromises. There were none on this trip.
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  4. Travel lightly and spontaneously. I traveled with carry-on luggage only and did not have a concrete plan for my stay in Edinburgh. A lot evolved on the go as I met other travelers. As in Canada, I could’ve also stayed in Scotland much longer with newly friends who invited me to. As in Canada, I was very tempted to do that.

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  5. Do not be careless with your freedom. Having no companion from home means no backup. So, do your research and listen to your guts. Say ‘no,’ if you feel uncomfortable. Plus, no one you’ve just met has to know that you are by yourself. It makes you vulnerable, thus it is wise to wait to share that information.
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  6. Go out with caution. Night life is an important social aspect, however, as a female solo traveler it is crucial to always stay in control. You will get offered drinks, and sadly many men think they thereby automatically buy some kind of entitlement. Thus, never drink enough to lose control; You should always be able to say no and find your way home.
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  7. Join organized groups. I did a tour through the Highlands, which was fabulous. Confined to an isolated bus or hostel, I got to know and love my fellow travelers a lot more. The tour may have been a bit more expensive, but it was definitely worth it for me. As was the Harry Potter Trail in Edinburgh and organized activities by the hostel. Those are aimed at solo travelers, so make use of them!
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  8. Re-invent yourself. No one know you abroad, hence you can be whoever you want to be. Although I am technically more German, I always introduced myself as Swiss, because Swiss have less stigma attached to them. I was also more outgoing than I would’ve been at home, because I knew I would unlikely ever meet these people again. You are under no obligation to be the person you were yesterday. This not only goes for solo travel, by the way.
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  9. Do not be afraid to ask for pictures of yourself. I have better pictures of myself from this trip than I do from others with friends, because I do not want to annoy them, and because we all do not want to seem too vain. Traveling alone I did not care about all that.Some tricks to get people to take pictures of you:
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    • Offer to take a picture of them. They will feel obliged to do the same.
    Be explicit. Tell them exactly what to do. Tell them to hold the camera straight with focus on you and however much background you want. I tend to overestimate people’s abilities. (Example on upper picture, I should’ve told my photographer explicitly to focus on me.)
    Joke about travel blogging. Funnily enough, this is a good trick. Joke about travel blogging poses, do a couple jokingly, and you will end up with great pictures.
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  10. Learn more about yourself. Take and embrace time spent on yourself. Reflect on what you are as a person. It may sound absurd, but I truly struggled to find alone time on my trip. Once others know you are going solo, they assume they have to take you in and that you want them to. Learn to say ‘no’ and spend time to get to know yourself.
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    The world is a beautiful place. I would never get anywhere if I always waited for someone to have the money, time, and emotional connection to join me explore it. I went solo after unsuccessfully looking for a companion (which does not mean I do not have friends!), but it made the trip into the trip I really wanted, beginning to the end. It was one of the best times of my life.

I cannot wait to go solo again.

Toss away your fears. The world is full of friends to be made, sights to be witnessed, and wonders to be admired.

xo

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