The idea of travelling on your own can feel daunting, but solo travel can have some real advantages.
There are times in your life when you need to have some well deserved ‘me time’ and that can include solo travel as well.
I often travel with Mark and the boys, but I also undertake a lot of my journeys on my own. My trips to Nuremberg and to the Argyll coast were both solo journeys, and I loved the freedom of travelling alone.
Now, solo travel may not be for everyone, but if you do embark on this path, a great adventure lies ahead.
Safe Solo travel
The thought of solo travel may seem a bit intimidating. Obviously, it’s important to do thorough research before your solo trip, checking out the places where you will stay and the activities that you plan to do.
And you should make sure you’re covered by travel insurance, like Globelink travel insurance which provides affordable insurance for people aged up to 89.
Some areas have security warnings and others may be unsafe or inadvisable for women to visit on their own. So it’s a good idea to check the foreign travel advice on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website before you book your solo trip.
It is also important to let family and loved ones to know your travel plans, and to check in regularly. In the unlikely event of an emergency, people will know where you are and can alert the authorities if necessary.
You can go wherever you want or do activities without asking if your companions want to go there too. If you’re a morning lark, there’s no need to try and work around travel companions who prefer to sleep in.
But every day, lots of people around the world do travel solo without any problems. Some are fresh out of university, taking a gap year travelling alone to experience another level of independence. Others are just taking a career break from the daily grind to begin a new chapter of their life. And some are just enjoying a holiday and treating themselves to some precious ‘me time’.
And if you ask these people about their experience, the vast majority will say that they had a fantastic time. So maybe you should try it out too?
Here are some of the benefits of travelling solo:
A Different Type of Freedom
There’s a special kind of freedom about travelling solo. Being able to choose where and when you travel without consulting others can feel very liberating.
Night owls and morning larks won’t have to fit in around other people’s schedules, and you won’t have to worry if the others in your group want to visit the same places as you.
And if you’re a foodie, you’ll be free to eat wherever you want, without making sure that your travel companions like the same kind of food.
It can take time to get used to eating alone, but you’ll soon get used to it. You can use the time to people watch, read a book or catch up on the day’s news. Or just focus on the delicious food you’re experiencing!
Budgeting is Easier
You may find that travelling solo can come with some extra costs. You might have to pay single supplements in hotels, and some organised tours are priced on the basis of two people sharing a room.
But putting that aside, you will find budgeting easier because you only have to take your own wishes into account. You won’t be compromising on what to see and do, so you’ll find the financial decisions easier to make.
You’ll Grow in Confidence
It’s normal to feel lonely at times when you’re travelling on your own. Even if you’re generally happy in your own company, there will be times when you’ll miss friends and loved ones back home.
Homesickness may be a problem, especially if you see a group of friends having fun together. A phone call or video chat to the people back home may help to ease the pangs of loneliness.
But you don’t need to be alone when you travel solo, because you will meet people along the way. Chat with other travellers in pubs and coffee shops or wherever you stay, and who knows, you may make new friends.
Sure, you’ll have your own schedule, but when you’re travelling solo you can do what you want, when you want.
Travelling solo is a great opportunity to build your confidence. Little things like asking a local for directions, or chatting to the waiter about the best options on the menu will help you grow. Don’t be afraid to chat with people over coffee, this is how we grow as social beings.
The Disadvantages of Solo Travel
Now, for the sake of balance, I should point out that there can be some disadvantages to travelling solo.
It’s possible that you could be a target for thieves and scammers if you’re travelling solo. So you need to be alert to this risk, and you may feel more comfortable carrying a personal alarm.
And no matter how well you plan your trip, things can and do go wrong. If you get ill or have an accident on your trip, you won’t have anyone with you to look after you. So make sure that you keep your insurance documents handy, and that you have an emergency contact listed in your phone.