8 Things Everyone Experiences When They Travel Solo
When I tell friends and family that I’m going travelling alone, after the initial, “That’s so cool, I could never do that”, the following question is always either, “What do you do if something goes wrong?” or “But don’t you get bored?”
The first time I travelled solo at age 20 my grandma offered no words of encouragement or excitement, but instead just said, “Very brave,” with a touch of subdued sarcasm.
Before I left to travel solo for six months later on, a friend tried to convince me to buy a metal keyring that’s disguised as the outline of a cat’s head, but is in fact a set of knuckle dusters. You’re meant to put your fingers through the eye holes, grip its face, and then plunge the spiked ears into your assaulter or mugger. Chill out!
Honestly, at least as far as I’ve found, as long as you say “Thanks but no thanks” when suss individuals try to sell you suspicious packages, and have your wits about you, there’s no increased risk. But some things that you may not expect can get annoying. These are the cons of solo travel no one warns you about, but you’re sure to experience.
Ordering Too Much Food
When eating out alone abroad, if you’re anything like me then you want to try literally every single thing on every single menu. Well, get ready to spend loads of money ordering four dishes and only being able to eat half of each.
Peeing With Your Backpack On
This is one ladies need to get the hang of early. You’ve got no one to watch your bags at the airport or on a train or anywhere, so you can either take it off and drag it across the discoloured, soggy floor into the stall with you, or you can learn to balance the extra weight while you squat.
Guys, make sure you take a dump before your transit.
Holding On While Waiting In Lines
Along a similar vein, when waiting in line to buy a train ticket in Beijing, you might be there for an hour. If you need to relieve yourself, tough. Unless you want to lose your place and start the madness again.
Watching Your Stuff While Swimming
At a beach, pool, waterfall, you must learn to swim while only facing the shore/your bag. If you turn away for one second, obviously someone will immediately pinch it, right?
Getting Pitying Looks At Restaurants
Particularly in the Western world, for some reason eating out alone will always come with a side of stares and at least one condoling smile.
Escorted ATM Runs
If you go to pay for dinner with nothing but tumbleweeds, restaurant staff might escort you to the nearest atm to make sure you don’t do a runner.
Getting The Worst Seat In The House To Everything
I don’t know about you but I always get allotted a middle seat on flights when I’m alone. Always. And prepared to sleep next to an old local snorer on more than one overnight bus. Then once you arrive at your hostel, you’ll probably get given a top bunk.
Try to arrive as close to check in time as you can to request one on the bottom.
If you’re the kind of traveller who gets photos in front of landmarks, you’ll get tired constantly asking strangers to take one of you. And sometimes there’ll be no one around. Get good at taking selfies. If you really want those photos, you might even have to *gulp* buy a selfie stick.
In The Grand Scheme Of Things, None Of This Matters Because Solo Travel Is The Best
I’m now going on 25 and have spent about 18 months of the last five years travelling, either with a friend or two, a boyfriend, in a tour, or solo. Having tried them all I can say in all certainty that solo is my modus operandi. Not only is it the best way to meet new people and say yes to embracing every experience, it’s sublimely therapeutic doing exactly what *you* want everyday.
If you’re of those, “that’s so cool, I could never do that” people, give it a go. It’s the experiences I’ve had totally by myself in a foreign country that have been the most memorable.
If you’re not sure about heading off to travel solo, check out another perspective here.
(Lead image: Kinga Cichewicz / Unsplash)