Jennifer Schlueter is a contributing travel writer, who also writes her personal travel blog Discovering Legacies. Born in Germany, Jennifer lived in Los Angeles for several years for college and gives a fresh, outside perspective of how ridiculous LA life can be. Having left her 9-to-5 job as a newspaper editor, she now travels the world and documents her adventures online.
So you feel like it’s time to travel alone, or you ended up being the only one about to take a trip that was originally for two or more — and now you’re scared. Let me tell you – you’re not alone!
All of us solo travelers have been there at some point. And look at us – still alive and taking trips by ourselves – some of us can’t get enough of it and ONLY travel alone now.
Here’s nine fears you may have of solo-travel which I destroy, so you can take your first trip to a different country and experience the greatness of solo travel.
1. I will be alone
Unless you’re going to a secluded cabin in the woods, you will not be alone! You will meet people at your Airbnb, hotel, hostel, etc. You will see people as soon as you step outside, asking people for directions, talking to your waiter, bartender, or cashier. The best part? You will meet other solo travelers because we tend to find each other.
Also, being alone has its advantages too! You get to know yourself, learn to put your own needs first, and you won’t have to pay attention to anyone else’s. You can eat whatever you want, wherever you want it, and whenever you want it – meaning you could get McDonald’s three times a day and no one can judge you. You can stare at a weird painting at an art gallery for 20 minutes without having anyone pull you away. You can visit a sex shop, or do other kinky things, because no one will know you.
2. I will feel lonely
If the feeling of loneliness creeps up on you, just remind yourself that you’re not lonely! Your family and friends will still be there when you can home, but if you get homesick you can always talk to them via apps such as Skype, What’sApp, Viber & Co., which all let you text and make free international calls as long as you have Internet. Once you learn to love spending time with yourself, the loneliness disappears.
3. I will not meet anyone
In addition to the first tip, here’s six more easy ways to meet people:
- Couchsurfing, Meetup or Facebook groups (i.e. Girls LOVE Travel) are the best ways to find people/travelers with like-minded interests.
- Check out the local university or college, look for free events and attend one.
- Participate in a (free) walking tour or pub crawl (offered in almost EVERY big city around the globe).
- This article mentions five travel apps that let you connect with locals.
- Use dating apps such as Tinder (with caution obviously).
- Talk to someone! Whether it be your bartender or grocery store cashier or a random person on the street or in a restaurant.
4. I don’t speak the language
So? Just learn a few words of the local language beforehand and use hand gestures. Also, luckily English is the most widely spoken language across the globe, so you’ll find at least one person who speaks it.
5. I will not know where to go/what to do
A few decades ago this would have been a valid argument, but hello – ever heard about something called the Internet? I’m sure, because you’re reading this right now! So just Google the ish out of “things to do in XYZ” or ask locals.
**Tip: Don’t go to a restaurant that’s not full because you’re likely to end up with food poisoning. Although, you could just be there at the wrong time. If you go out to dinner in Spain around 6 p.m, you’ll quickly notice that people aren’t eating yet. Spain’s dinner time starts much later. Therefore, just read up on the country’s food and its customs before you go.
7. I will have to eat, go to bars & clubs by myself
Yes, you will most likely have to do that, but you know what? It can be great. Treat yourself to something nice and just enjoy it. Don’t think about being alone. Aforementioned, you will meet people and not be alone for long.
8. I don’t have anyone to share my memories with
Have we talked about you being not alone yet? (Yes, we have.)
If you still find yourself feeling alone, you will always have sometime to share your memories with: Yourself, first and foremost, which is the most important. You will always remember watching the sunset at Parque del Oeste in Madrid, or the sunrise on the Charles Bridge in Prague, taking a cooking class in Italy, or riding on a camel through the Sahara. There’s worse things in the world that can happen to you than doing these things by yourself. Remember to be grateful that you’re able to have these experiences, because sadly some people will never (so don’t fucking complain about this).
Even if you were able to drag along a travel partner, it’s very possible that they won’t want to do all of the things you want.
9. I will not be safe (especially females)
There are solo female travelers in every single country and they are very much alive. Inform yourself as much as you can about traditions, dress code, things to do and not to do, foods to (not) eat, etc. beforehand and most importantly TRUST YOUR GUT if you find yourself in a potentially dangerous situation. Also, don’t trust the mainstream media. AT ALL — if the media already influenced you, make an effort to find locals online to tell you about the place where they live because they know best.
What are you waiting for now? Just go already ?
Oh, and don’t forget: You have the privilege to travel, enjoy every second of it!