Updated: Jan 20, 2021
"He who is outside his door has the hardest part of his journey behind him." ~Dutch Proverb
Thistles and Coos posted a quote recently: “At least once in your life, travel solo”. A subscriber commented that they travel for work by themselves and don’t recommend traveling solo, it should be done with a significant other, a family member, or a friend so you can look back on your trip together with shared experiences.
We totally get that and traveling with another person is fun. #roadtrip
But for the sake of argument, we are focusing on traveling solo for pleasure NOT work.
As many of you know, Natalie is the extrovert and has yet to meet a stranger. She thrives on meeting new people and chatting them up. There is an energy and vibrancy gained through social interactions. #rechargebatteries
The thought of being alone for a week in a secluded cabin with no one to talk to was terrifying.
Our introverted friends understand and love the idea of being alone. Extroverts, not so much.
Whether solo travel is for you or not, it’s ok. We are suggesting you give it a chance as you might enjoy your own company.
Here are a few suggestions when considering a solo travel experience:
Start Small. Take a weekend and travel somewhere familiar. This might be staying at a B&B in the next small town over and shopping all the antique stores. Get a feel for being alone. There is less fear in the familiar.
Have a Plan. If traveling alone causes anxiety, have a schedule to follow. The structure will help alleviate some of the anxiety you might feel.
Don’t let Social Media be your Crutch. This means when you are eating alone, you are not facetiming friends. Enjoy the time and people watch. If you are on your phone, are you truly alone?
Be Ready to Problem Solve. You will have to rely on yourself to read the maps or find the hidden speakeasy. Let it be messy.
Personal Safety. Be familiar with your surroundings. If your intuition is telling you to not walk down the creepy alley, LISTEN.
Here is a quick story about our trip to Austria last year. Natalie was going to be there a week before Greg and Connie arrived. This was the FIRST time Natalie had traveled solo...
So there I was in my forties and I thought, yeah sure this is great! Imagine the self talk in the mirror trying to talk myself into going ALONE! I can go on a solo adventure to Austria all by myself!
I’ll be fine (Yeah right).
I won't be lonely (I admit that I was at times).
I won't worry that in the complete silence, the room will totally have a buzz about it, when no one is there to talk to you (That sometimes made me cry).
As this internal dialogue continued while I planned my trip, I almost talked myself out of this trip. This was going to be a challenge and was I ready?
The extrovert in me was up for the excitement of a visit to Austria On the go. New experiences. Food. Sightseeing.
What I wasn’t quite ready for was being alone and the jet lag that robbed me at the start of the vacation.
Being true to myself, I did the following after I bought the ticket:
Research! Research! Research!!
Do they speak your language? I was traveling to a country where English was not the native language. Luckily, most of the people there spoke English or if they didn’t, I used the translator app on my phone. So, no language barriers, just took a little more time to converse. I learned to dive in to the other cultures and open my eyes.
(Video below of Natalie and Augustin. Augustin speaks Croatian and no English. Using the Google Translator app broke down language barriers. Video is in sign language and subtitled in English.)
Know where you are going. Some countries are not 100% safe, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go there, just be aware of what is happening in the country: customs, rules, politics, religion, etc.
Take a look around. If you are traveling solo (as a female), when booking your hotel/hostel/AirBnB, take a moment and pull up maps. “Walk” the street. Is it close to transportation? Does it look like it is in a safe area? Can you just walk out the front door and sight-see easily? Is it a lively street with lots of people? These aren’t a necessity, just suggestions! If it doesn’t fit what you are looking for to make your travels awesome, move on. Keep searching.
Let others know where you are going. Once you have made your reservations and itinerary, email it to someone you know and trust (your spouse, parents, friends) so they are familiar with where you will be on your travels.
Safety is Key!
Ear piercing alarm helped me sleep like a baby. For me, I used a door alarm while in the hotel. More peace of mind than anything. You could also carry it with you in your bag. If someone approaches you, and you are in fear for your safety, set off this handheld alarm. The neighboring city will hear this extremely loud and shrill alarm. Busted eardrums anyone? The video below demonstrates how it works. You can buy the Lewis and Clark alarm here on Amazon.
Use certified transportation.. You can ask the hotel concierge or a manager at a restaurant to call a cab for you. We love Uber and Lyft, but know there are other options for you.
Bug off!! Even when Connie and I traveled together, we had a creepy guy coming on to us. Check out the blog here. There were funny quips in our story, but know that we take our safety very seriously. Be smart.
Seek help! If you feel as if you are being followed, go into a local place and tell someone or ask for help.
It’s My Adventure!
No time restraints! Go at your own pace. One great thing I learned and loved about traveling by myself, was I was on my own time. No time constraints. No waiting on another person or having them wait or me. There is freedom in being responsible for only yourself.
Let it go! With my personality, I am always looking for someone to talk to or excitedly anticipating what I will be doing next. My brain is on “GO” all the time, so when I travel, it goes into overdrive. Being by myself, I was forced to stop: quiet and slow my mind, open my ears and actively listen, feel the breeze, and smell the fresh air. When the feelings of “all by myself” became overwhelming, I would physically stop, breathe, and be present. I learned to be patient with myself. Any negativity that was taking up residence inside my head and not paying rent had to be kicked out.
Table for one! I’ve heard from other extroverts that it seems odd to go into a restaurant and sit alone. This was difficult, so I brought along a book or a journal to help me be alone. Take in the views. It might be difficult at first, to sit down at the table alone. I promised, people are not staring at you because you are alone… check your skirt to be sure it’s not tucked in panties. Indulge in that ginormous chocolate cake slice. Have a Guinness. Relax, Breathe and Stare back.
Tours: If you are needing a little bit of companionship, sign up for walking tours/ food tastings/ day trip excursions. Be with like-minded people. You may forge a lifelong friend out of it. Plus, it gives you a chance to let your extrovertness out of your system. Hello happy dance!
Have a technology detox! Really get grounded in where you are walking.. Give your eyes and brain a rest. Turn on music. Dance. Sit on the balcony. People watch. Be at peace with your thoughts in the quiet moments. It will be okay.
Traveling solo is a challenge for anyone. Plan. Be Smart. Have Fun. There is a huge world out there to experience… even if your solo travel is just going to the next town over, you did it!
Have you traveled solo? What are some eye-opening experiences that you learned along the way?