Solo traveling – why it suits me!
“You’re so brave to travel alone”, -”It must be daunting to travel by yourself”, -”You must get so lonely solo traveling”, – “Just the thought”, -“of going somewhere by myself puts me off”, -”I could never travel by myself”, -”How do you do it?”, -”It must be so hard!”
These are just some of the things that have been put to me about solo traveling over the years. The thing is, it’s not just me but every solo traveler I know has had the same or similar said to them.
Not another solo traveling post!
Since I’ve dipped my toes into this world of blogging, I’ve read a lot of posts on solo traveling, and I have to say as a solo traveler myself some of them amuse me. I see lots of posts like ‘Why you should only solo travel.’, ‘Solo traveling is the only way to travel.’, ‘Ultimate guide to solo travel’, ‘Why you should only solo travel’, ‘You should try solo travel at least once’…So on and so on…
Before I go any further let me say this – This is not one of them, nobody should tell you how to travel, you should travel how you feel best to. There is no right or wrong way to travel!
At the end of the day and the truth is, solo traveling isn’t for everybody, some prefer to travel in groups, with friends or even with family. And that is just fine.
This post is to give you an idea why solo travel suits me and it may help you in making a decision to see if it’s for you or not. And, that’s the beauty of traveling – you travel the way which suits you best, not how somebody else tells you to travel.
Why solo traveling suits me.
Since I first packed my backpack way back in 2010, I’ve traveled with friends and in groups but for me traveling solo just suits me better. Don’t get me wrong now, It’s not like I don’t like people or that I just love my own company that much. Well, I do amuse myself most of the time but I also have some demons so I can’t be alone for too long or they like to come out.
I prefer solo traveling but I’m rarely alone. I’m a bit weird like that, I like my own company but I don’t, I don’t have to be around people but I do. I’m quite a closed off and private person but I’m not. Only the people that really know me will understand what I mean.
The reason I solo travel is that I can do everything on my own terms, in my own time and how I want to. – The only person I need to compromise with is myself and that’s hard enough at times!
If you’re planning to solo travel and have questions spinning in your head but without the answers, check out this comprehensive solo traveling F.A.Q’s.
Is solo travel hard?
At times, yes; it can be. Like with all types of traveling there is going to be ups and downs. Traveling is very rarely a 100% smooth ride (It’s half the fun). Traveling, in general, is as hard or easy as you make it out; when problems occur it’s how you tackle them, or how you personally deal with situations.
There are a few things I like to do, which might not be the case for every solo traveler but these help me.
- In-depth research but keeping my plans loose (There’s a difference in knowing about everything a country has to offer opposed to planning to see and do everything.) If you need some help with how to structure your planning and researching – This aid will walk you through step-by-step.
- Learn a few basic words in local language (It helps a lot)
- Find out best transport options beforehand, how to get from A to B easiest.
- Where are the backpacker areas, where travelers hang out?
- Where easy to get to hostels are located.
Simple things like this will make it so much easier for your first time traveling alone.
As a solo traveler, of course, my safety is always the priority. I’ve been fortunate enough that since I started to travel in 2010, I’ve only had one problem but I take full responsibility for it. I was very drunk, wasn’t paying attention and got pick-pocketed by a little kid in Bali.
I’ve traveled and lived all over the world, I’ve been in dodgy areas, I’ve stayed in somewhat questionable hostels but that is the only incident I have had. It’s not that I’ve been lucky it’s just that I’ve used a little thing called common sense.
Ok, I know that just made me sound massively arrogant but I’ve seen and met so many travelers who have got themselves into sticky situations or even in trouble and wonder why it’s happened. Well, it’s because they didn’t use any common sense. I come from a background where I’ve had to be pretty street smart but as I’ve traveled I’ve learned to be even more vigilant. I’ve learned to pay attention to my surroundings and be more observant than usual.
It’s things like not acting like a tourist, not flashing money or belongings around. I don’t act like I’m better than anybody in poorer countries. Things like keeping my personal belonging close to me, making sure I know where my bag is on a bus. If there are warning signs not to go into certain areas; I won’t go, or at least not alone.
This all sounds like simple application but you’ll be surprised at people who think to do the opposite and end up in trouble.
But solo travel is Lonely travel, right?
Here’s the thing, ‘solo traveling’ doesn’t mean ‘lonely traveling’…I think it’s a common misconception that if you’re traveling solo, you’re going to be on your own all the way through your trip. This is not the case. Sure, there will be times when you are alone, there will be times you just want to be alone (It’s bliss at times) and sometimes you might just feel lonely even if there are people around.
I’ve had down days where I’ve felt lonely, questioned why I’m doing this, felt sorry for myself. It happens, it’s a part of solo traveling but there is some solace. When I do fall into these kinds of slumps I remind myself I’m surrounded by other travelers, I just need to be sociable.
For me, backpacker hostels are my choice of accommodation as a solo traveler. Other travelers will have their own opinions on hostels, the types of hostels they prefer and or the location of the hostel. Personally, If I’m arriving in a new place and don’t know my surroundings, I tend to go for the central backpacker areas. There’s a couple of reasons for this – 1, they are easy to get to, and 2, hostels are generally sociable places so I can make friends quickly.
Of course the longer I stay in one place and get to know my surroundings, I’m more likely to move away into quieter areas.
I mentioned above that solo traveling doesn’t mean lonely traveling, backpackers are everywhere. You just have to look around, in hostels, on excursions and activities, on bus rides, or even just walking around and this makes making friends fairly simple.
For me making friends while traveling is probably one of the easiest things to do – If I want it to be. I say this because as a solo traveler it’s down to choice; make friends or not. For example – I want to be sociable and want to make friends I put myself out there If I don’t then I step away.
Take for instance my very first trip, I was a solo traveler in a brand new country on the other side of the world. I knew not a soul but having booked myself into a very sociable (party) hostel within minutes I started to make new friends. The friends I made back then became like my traveling family, and all these years later I’m still in contact with a lot of them.
Wherever I’ve traveled, in all the hostels I’ve stayed in over the years, it’s always been fairly simple to make friends.
Mix it up.
Just a word of advice though, hostels are generally sociable places, (I’ve encountered a few that were not) but in my opinion, the easiest way to break the ice with another backpacker is to share a beer…Get drunk or high with them and you’re best friends by day two.
Note from experience and being a long-term backpacker – When trying to make friends with fellow backpackers, try mixing up the conversation. Try something different to the usual, “How long you traveling for?”, “Where you going next?”, “What route you taking?” …Sorry if this sounds harsh or pretentious but the same questions ware thin.
Look at it from their perspective; it might be all new to you and you’re full of excitement. You’ve never asked these questions before, but the person you’re asking has probably heard it hundreds of times before. Cracking open a beer and talking about general things or having a laugh goes a lot further; trust me.
Travel in groups?…Nah not for me!
Like I said at the top of this post, you should travel how best fits you not how It suits others. In saying that for me solo travel suits me best because of the freedom it provides me.
I travel solo but I meet people, I hang around with people, I even do excursion with group but I like moving around on my own at my own pace. And, It’s not like I’ve not tried other ways but they’ve thrown up problems which were avoidable if I was traveling solo. And, it’s not just me, I’ve seen it with other people who travel in groups too. Tthe amount of times I’ve heard “I wish I just traveled by myself it would be so much easier”.
Being part of a group might be perfect for you but for me there’s always been issues, arguments and unwanted stress I just don’t need.
Give me my freedom
My justification for traveling solo (not that I need one) is within groups everybody has an opinion and time to time they will differ. There are compromises to be made, disagreements on what excursion to do, one person wants to go here, another over there. Sometimes when you’re traveling in a group you budget together and that throws up problems, even things like what to eat. Sometimes activities and excursions have to be done as a group even if you don’t want to.
However being a solo traveler I get to pick and chose what I want to do when I want to do it and how. (Being forced to go somewhere at 6 am when hungover because it was a group activity is not acceptable…see picture below)
If I don’t want to do something then I don’t, If I want to move on to a particular destination then I do it as and when I want. It’s that simple solo traveling gives me the freedom I need.
Ups and Downs of solo traveling.
I’m not trying to give you the wrong picture here, I’m not saying solo travel will be perfect and always run smooth. That is not the case, things can go horribly wrong, you can have some real down days, there are days when the shit just hits the fan; these things happen.
Over the years there have been situations, places I’ve been to where I just didn’t get a good vibe, didn’t get along with locals or even with other travelers. I’ve had times where I just wished the day away, done nothing but lay in bed, days I’ve missed things and people from back home.
When those days have happened, they have been frustrating but at the same time I’ve ridden them out because I know they will pass and the ups will return.
Did you find solo traveling post helpful in deciding if it’s for you or not? Let me know in the comments below if there is anything else you would like to know.
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