Solo traveling – How do you do it?

Since returning home, I’ve been bombarded with questions about traveling. So i thought i’d make it easy for everyone and once and for all explain how it is to travel alone, and why i think everyone should try it! I will do so by answering common questions and myths about traveling solo.  I’m not an expert and i’m just learning it myself but hopefully i can give you some helpful tips if you’re thinking about doing it!

After traveling with both friends, family and on my own, i must say that i prefer traveling alone. It gives you a lot of freedom, it also forces you to improve your social skills and i think i can speak for most people when i say that you will talk too and meet a lot more people when you’re on your own. The best part is the friendships that I’ve gotten along the way, with people from countries i barely knew anything about. It makes the world seem a lot smaller when you have people to visit all over the world. 

Doesn’t it get lonely?

Quite the opposite. Especially when living in hostels, you’re literally surrounded by people 24/7 if you stay in a shared dorm (which is the most common option). Of course it won’t completely eliminate the risk of you feeling lonely, but it will increase the risk of you meeting friends and people you will enjoy spending time with and that will help you from feeling lonely. I wrote a whole post about this question HERE if you want to know more about it.

Can’t stand yourself? Are you uncomfortable in your own company?  Traveling solo might be able to fix that. Before i left i could barely stand to be alone, with only myself as company. But now i’m as comfortable as it gets in my own company!

Is it safe? Even for solo travelers?

The first thing i realized when i started traveling is that the world is a lot safer than it seems to be on the news.  Stranger danger, Not all strangers wish you harm, quite the opposite, one thing I quickly noticed is that people are usually very helpful in every situation, especially if you’re on your own.

Traveling on your own isn’t rocket science, thousands of people do it every day! If you use your common sense and your gut feeling, you can hopefully avoid getting in to situations where you could get hurt. When it comes to facing problems, traveling in a group might be a bit easier, because you can always rely on each other and figure out a solution together, but traveling solo doesn’t force you to solve every problem on your own like many may think, usually you can get help from other backpackers and even locals if needed, but it does give your confidence an extra boost when you solve your own problems.

No matter which country you’re from you will have to adapt to new cultures, traditions and laws whenever you visit a new country, usually it’s  quite easy and you won’t face any difficulties in doing so. To be on the safe side if you’re unfamiliar with the country you’re about to visit and you feel a bit nervous, i’d recommend doing some research about it. What is okay to wear? Is there anything that is seen as offensive behavior?  Currency? Any specific words to avoid?  There is so much information on the internet these days, it won’t take much of your time but it will make your traveling easier and hopefully you can avoid getting in to trouble this way.

Unless you’re in Asia or a country where you obviously stand out, people won’t look at you twice, and they most certainly won’t look and think ”oh, there’s a solo traveler all on her own”, maybe your friends are just around the corner? Maybe you’re a local?  Maybe you’re family is waiting for you at a hotel? They don’t know, and i’m sorry to break it to you, but people usually don’t care.

Don’t you get bored?

I do, of course i do, boredom is a part of life. Just as you get bored at home, you’ll get bored while traveling. It doesn’t make you immune to boredom no matter how much you wish it would, but it might, it might get you to appreciate it more than you did when you were at home. Just staying in bed, watching Netflix or one of the movies on my hard drive is exactly what i needed some days. Even adventurers need a break sometimes. I always make sure to have my laptop, a hard drive full of movies & a book to read, in those particular moments. It makes the boring part a bit less boring. We’re all gonna get bored sometimes, wouldn’t you rather be bored in a tent deep the rain forest or in a bungalow in South Africa, or even in  a crappy hostel room in Australia.. than on the couch in your comfortable home?

Isn’t it expensive?

Traveling isn’t free. But it doesn’t have to cost a fortune either. It’s as expensive as you make it. 

If you stay at a fancy hotel, pay to do activities every day, only eat out and get drunk every night then yes.. it will be expensive. 

But, today there is a lot of budget options when it comes to traveling. If you know where to look, and take the time to do some research you can find affordable tickets to pretty much every corner of the world. You just got to have patience and time.

Sometimes the best adventures doesn’t have to cost a dime! Google is your friend. If you book your trips on your own you might be able to save a dime or two as well! By booking through an agency it will usually be more expensive, but sometimes you can get a really good deal at a travel agency so keep your eyes and ears open! Look, Look again & Look again.

If you’re lucky you might even be able to work while you’re traveling or at least work for accommodation at your hostel. It’s a great way to save some money if you feel like you’re wasting too much or too fast.

How do you take the first step?

Step out of your comfort zone and embrace yourself, the rest will come!  I’ll try and break it down to you in a few steps that might make it a bit easier!

  • Funding / Budget – Of course you will need money. It’s amazing how much you can save by cutting back a little bit on your daily habits. (it will be worth it!) I have a savings account and always put away as much as i can every time i get a paycheck. Budget for the unexpected, i always make sure i have a little extra that i won’t touch unless it’s an emergency + enough for a plane ticket home. It was really handy in Australia when i all of a sudden needed to remove my wisdom tooth and had to pay 600$ upfront..  You can read about it here.
  • Travel Insurance – No matter where you’re going, how long you’ll be gone and how old you are, accidents happen. Make sure you’re protected so that you are covered if something happens along the way.
  • Visa – Some countries will give you a temporary tourist visa when you arrive, other countries might need you to apply for one before you enter. Make sure you know what applies to the country/countries you plan to explore.
  • Work – Some countries will even allow you to work while you’re traveling around.  If you don’t have unlimited funding, take advantage of it to keep you going during your trip!
  • Storage – No matter how old you are, if you’re gonna be traveling for a while you need somewhere to store your things. People are surprisingly friendly when it comes to this and will help you out!  Ask family and friends or rent a storage unit to store your things in while you’re away! If you’re still living at home your parents might let you keep your room as it is while you’re away!
  • Let go of your safety – If you got an apartment, either rent it out or let it go. Got a job? Quit. I would recommend having your last shift a week before you’re leaving, it will give you time to sort the last out and spend time with friends and family. I left Sweden a few days after my last paycheck which i’d highly recommended. 

If you’re still not sure you can do it on your own, and you want a bit of safety to fall back on. Use an agency!  I’ve used GoXplore twice, the first time i used them i didn’t have a single problem and everything went super smooth! The second time i used them i ran in to a few problems along the way, but even then.. when i look back at it, it still gave me that extra safety and most of the paper work was handled for me.

I just had to fill in the papers and they did the rest, when that was done all i had to do was show up. It was quite easy and helpful at first, but then i realised it’s almost as easy to do everything on your own.. and a lot cheaper!  But hey, you got to start somewhere though.

Leaving safety behind is scary, i doubt anyone will tell you different. It will be hard at times and not everything will go as planned. But it’s liberating, it has given me a taste of real freedom. You will get lost in the world but you might end up finding yourself!

I hope this will give answers to some of your questions, if you have any more questions or wonder anything don’t hesitate to ask! I’d love to hear from you.

Whatever destination you aim for, your biggest obstacle is usually yourself. Don’t hold yourself back, escape the ordinary!  Hope to see you around! 

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