I’ve ended up spending quite a bit of time alone so far on this trip. I think that while travel can seem exciting and fun and it is those things, it can also be boring, nerve-wracking, and sometimes just plain lonely.
I think the upsides of travel go without saying, seeing new places, meeting people, trying new things, everyone knows all about that. The stuff that isn’t so much talked about are the not so fun parts, when you’ve been doing the solo travel thing for what feels like forever, the days that things always seem to go wrong, times when you end up spending way more money than you thought, or just missing the comforts of home.
- 99% of your photos end up as selfies, case in point the top photo. You want to get the monument or attraction your seeing but you also want to be in the photo, like “Hello, I paid a million dollars to get to “blank attraction” I’m definitely going to prove I was there”. Of course sometimes there are people around you can ask to take the photo for you, but sometimes that’s awkward or they’re busy taking group photos with the people that they’re traveling with…cos apparently not everyone in the world is a solo loser by themselves. (Not that being by yourself makes you a loser, but sometimes it can certainly feel like it.)
- Sometimes it can be a little scary. Being in a taxi by yourself in a foreign country you’ve never been before while crossing your fingers that the driver isn’t a homicidal maniac who is not taking you to your hotel but to some back alley to turn your death into some local news headline, isn’t that fun. At least if you’re with someone else you can preplan your attack on crazy men before you get into the cab, 2 against 1 is way better odds. Even walking places by yourself can be a scary sometimes, especially if you have a slightly overactive imagination like I do. Knowing there’s someone else there, or someone expecting you to arrive at a certain time can really lower the fear factor.
- It is way more expensive! When you’re traveling with someone else most of the big costs are cut in half, or more if you’re with a group. When you’re solo that whole hotel bill is yours, even that room service wine you’re totally sure you didn’t drink.
- Just being plain lonely. I like meeting new people as much as the next person, maybe even more, but sometimes you just get lonely. Missing people at home that it’s easy to talk to, missing your family and pets. Sometimes I don’t want to have to make small talk for half an hour before having a real conversation, I just want to talk.
Another lonely moment, going out to eat. Let’s be real, it might be a nice treat every so often at home to go out solo, but eating every meal of the day by yourself and at a restaurant while traveling is super lame. If I never have to say the words “Just for one” to a restaurant hostess again, I’ll be happy. The only redeeming thing is that now with so much technology it is usually fairly easy to catch someone on Facetime or just chat with them if you’re having a down day.
- Finally whether you’re having fun or not, it’s all down to you. When you have a travel partner or group there are people to bounce ideas off of or suggest activities for the day. When you’re solo, that’s all on you. All the research and planning and decisions are yours alone. This can be both good and bad, you never have to compromise on what you feel like doing during the day, but as someone who hates making decisions sometimes it can be exhausting.
Regardless of all this, solo travel has really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’ve done my best enjoy everything and do all the things in each place I’ve been, not letting being alone stop me. I’ve met new people who have been so welcoming and friendly it does feel like I have a group of friends on this side of the ocean.
When I’ve had a bit of a down day, which I have at home too obviously, I’ve just made more of a conscious effort to get in touch with people at home, reminding myself that even if I’m lonely at that moment I do actually have lots of friends and family. Plus I have the opportunity right now to do whatever I want to do, go wherever I want to go and just spend the time really figuring out with I want, not a lot of people get that chance.