The freedom to go where you want, when you want, with no one to slow you down. Sounds awesome right? “Aww cool, you mean teleportation!” No, I’m not talking about teleportation and thank goodness because many people in the travel industry, including myself, would be out of a job. I’m talking about travelling solo.
Technology, modern day transport and conveniences have meant that travelling solo is no longer something that’s only for the brave or mad (depending on how you feel about it). While solo travel seems like a cool idea, truth is, it’s not for everyone. “Hold on, this article isn’t about teleportation and you’re ruining my dreams of solo travel. Why am I still reading?” Easy now, solo travel may be for you, but there are a few questions you should consider before packing a bag and buckling up for that 15 hour flight.
“Do I enjoy time by myself?”
Now, I know what you’re thinking – “I’ll meet people on my travels”. I’m not saying that you won’t, but if the thought of being alone makes you anxious, travelling solo is probably not for you. Some people are pretty happy in their own company and other people need a group of people to enjoy travelling. Being comfortable in your own company is something you should consider (Are you able to have a meal with yourself without getting fidgety or uneasy?).
“What do I want to get out of this experience?”
We all travel for different reasons. One person could be travelling to visit family or friends, another person may be travelling to the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas to live in a monastery for a couple of months. Travelling in a group means you have people to do some exploring and activities with. When you’re travelling alone, your overall experience rests a lot more in your hands. So it may not be a bad idea to consider what it is you want from your travels.
“What are my expectations?”
If you have this sudden urge to travel solo because you saw some incredible photos on Facebook or Instagram, it may be time to adjust your expectations. There’s also the not so glamorous side of travel that you don’t see on Instagram or Facebook, such as, potential language barriers, falling ill after eating a bit of street food, getting lost and jet lag after an 18 hour flight. This is not to say there’s anything wrong with high expectations, but if you expect your travels to be an endless rolling feed of Instagram’s best travel photos, then think again.
“Will I panic if things go wrong?”
This is part of travel, whether travelling solo or in a group, hey it’s a part of life. From losing your passport, to getting sick, to missing a flight, things happen. However, some travellers are better at keeping a cool head when bad things happen and some travellers… well, they may think it’s the end of the world, let alone the end of their trip. If you tend to lose your head when things start to go awry (especially in your own country), it may be better to travel in a group or with some familiar faces.
“Does my travel experience match where I am going?”
Believe it or not, I’m not a well-travelled individual. “Aww man! This gets better and better. This article isn’t about teleportation, you ruin dreams and you work at a travel company, but aren’t well travelled.” Woah, easy there let me finish. Even though I haven’t travelled a lot, it may be an idea to consider your level of travel experience before going somewhere. Things can go wrong at any time, but some places are more prone to it happening than others. Visiting a war-torn country on your first solo trip? Probably not a good idea (well, not a good idea on any trip, but you catch my drift). Some countries are better for first time travellers than others (i.e. they are safer, have public transport, the local people speak your language…). Group travel is great for first time travellers, because it takes the stress out of travelling, allowing you to enjoy your travels.
Travel can be an amazing and rewarding experience, but not all of us can be intrepid solo travellers. Don’t worry though, this doesn’t mean that you are destined to spend the rest of your life spread out on the couch at home, watching re-runs on the travel channel. With your travel dreams intact – hopefully – all you need to do is ask yourself the questions above to see if it’s really for you. Better yet, take the chance and see for yourself.