For the love of solo travel
Organising what you want to see, how long you want to be somewhere and when you want to leave.
Eating whatever you want, when you want. It could be pizza in Rome at 10am, or a third gelato at 4pm.
It is up to you.
It’s creating your own itinerary, not following a group or being told what to do.
Filling your day with as much or as little as you wish.
That’s the joy of solo travel.
This month’s travel blog linkup is all about love, so I thought I would share my passion for solo travel and what makes it so great.
I’ve done a few group tours in my time and while they are great to meet other travellers, there are always parts of them that are not quite up my alley, with my latest trip to Borneo being a good reminder of that.
You could say my first solo trip was when I moved to London, no knowing anyone, no job and no permanent place to stay. Yet, I’d probably say it was later, when I realised I didn’t want to waste the opportunity to travel to places I wanted to go, by waiting for people to join me. That was my whole reason for leaving New Zealand when I did!
I started travelling to places I knew were easy to navigate, had plenty to see and were relatively safe. Places like Italy, Switzerland and popping around the UK. These were all easy options and I stayed in hostels, met fellow travellers, did short city walking tours that the hostels organised and got a feel for the solo travel life.
Is solo travel lonely?
At times, yes. Dinners were when I really noticed it. However, as time went on I learnt to take a book or map with me to read or do travelling planning. Sometimes I’d eat my main meal at lunchtime when I felt more comfortable. When it came to long term solo travel in South America I’d eat dinner in hostels more, to socialise with fellow travellers rather than going out at night where I didn’t feel as safe.
Is solo travel safe?
For the most part, yes. As a solo traveller you’ve got to have your wits about you. I didn’t often go out at night unless I trusted the people I was wish, this meant I missed out on different cities nightlife, but it also meant I didn’t deal with hangovers and had budget to do more exciting things like food tours, adventure sports and once in a lifetime trips like a trip around the Galapagos.
Granted there were times I received unwanted attention and I didn’t have my story of being married or having a travel partner with me prepared. That is one thing I would recommend to all solo female travellers, have a story ready to explain you’re not alone when you receive unwanted attention.
Let people in
As a solo traveller you learn a big part of travelling is getting to know people. Don’t assume the worst of a nationality, because more often than not, they will surprise you with their kindness.
Sometimes I’ve had to let people help me, when I’ve been ill or injured. Sometimes you have to realise you just can’t do everything on your own and you need to let people in.
How solo travel has changed for me
When I was younger sharing dorm rooms was the way to go, the way to meet people. It was the way to travel cheap too. Nowadays I’ll still stay at hostels (currently writing this at the YHA hostel near Mt. Ruapehu on a non-snowboarding day) but I’ll book a private room. I value my sleep without other people coming and going, rustling through bags or snoring. 8 months of travel through Africa and South/Central America was enough to cure me of sharing dorm rooms. Though if I did long term travel again, I’d return to dorms.
I travel less now too, it is a lot more expensive from New Zealand and takes a lot longer to get anywhere. I have other commitments now with my house/mortgage (cringe if you will), but I still budget for travel inside New Zealand, snowboarding trips and at least one trip abroad each year.
I have my eyes wide open now. All my travels have taught me you can learn a lot from watching and listening to others. My attitude is still treat others how you want to be treated and respect that other cultures have different ways of doing things.
Having the attitude that I can travel on my own, with no issues, has allowed me to travel a large portion of the world. I’ve never waited for someone to join me, but always welcomed the odd friend that would like to come or travel buddy I meet along the way.
Solo travel to me, is not about travelling without friends, it is about travelling how I want to travel. Seeing the places I want to see and not being held back. I’d love to have a friend that loved to travel the way I do, to the places I love, but we all live our lives in our own ways and most of my friends have other priorities.
There’s a few places I won’t travel solo, but those are also places I don’t have a large desire to visit just yet. There’s places like Africa that I know are easier to travel on tours and I will still do tours there again in the future. However, my other adventures will always begin with the possibility of a self-made itinerary and solo travel planning.
The love of solo travel is freedom. The world is our oyster and there is so much of it to experience and learn from. Why would we ever hold back and not take these opportunities where we can? I want to live a fulfilling life and share what I learn on my travels, share my love of travel photography and solo travel allows me to do this.