Solo travel is often painted as an ideal, fairy-tale-like, and picture-perfect experience. In reality, solo travel is such a crucial experience that can quite literally make us or break us.
Solo travel increases self-confidence, awareness, helps in self-discovery, demands you to step out of the comfort zone, and also boosts your decision-making and problem-solving skills.
Solo travel similarly opens up possibilities and ends up being so much more fulfilling than you had imagined. To add, there is nothing quite like exploring a spot on your own so, you need to collect some strength and get your traveling shoes on.
With that being said, there is a side to solo travel that you might not be prepared for because nobody likes to talk about it. Let me also tell you that you will have a fair share of blunders, embarrassing moments, scary experiences, and paranoia.
This post is literally designed to share with you what real solo travel seems like. Well, I do not intend on sharing this experience to scare you away from taking that first plunge but, I simultaneously know that shedding light on the reality is paramount to boost first timer’s confidence.
Solo travel is extremely enriching and one of the best experiences one can have but there are things that no one tells you about solo travel. So, to get you prepared for all the hurdles that come along the way, here is a little dose of reality that nobody tells you about solo travel.
If you need additional information on what to do on a solo travel, I have you covered on that as well.
1. Your safety is actually compromised so, stay alert during your solo travel
Needless to say that when we are traveling alone, we are actually prone to danger. Since you are all by yourself, you are responsible for your own safety and there is only so much you can do to protect yourself from unforeseen situations. Nevertheless, here are some of the safety measures that you can adhere to when you are traveling solo.
-Carry a defensive weapon such as a knife, pepper spray, or a stick with you. Since you are without anyone else so, no one can really tell what you may encounter.
-Download an offline google map to have the option to navigate in any event, when you are not connected to the internet.
-Since you are traveling solo, do not take silly risks that might place you at serious risks.
-Act like a local while wandering and make an effort not to look lost in any way.
-Similarly, avoid strolling around without anyone else around evening time for the most evident safety reasons.
-Keep your valuables safe by yourself since you have got nobody else to do it for you.
-Do not forget to leave a copy of your itinerary with family and friends before you head out.
-Try staying sober as much you can so, abstain from drinking an abundant excess.
-Likewise, plan your transportation carefully. Try not to book a taxi around evening time rather pick open transportation.
-Lastly, always carry a first aid kit with yourself. Since you are all by yourself, be your own medic in case of an emergency.
2. At some point, you are likely to feel lonely
Traveling alone is extremely overwhelming because you are far from home and out of your comfort zone. Regardless of where and for how many days you are traveling, you are the only one responsible for yourself. Even if you are traveling somewhere close to your home, at times, you might need help. Here is the worst-case scenario: if you get lost, you will have to find your way back home and you might not find people nearby who can help you.
Having a person with you during your travel gives a sense of security that there is someone who you can count on and fall back on. But, now that you are all by yourself, you are most likely to get scared, restless, and paranoid throughout your journey and especially, if you are traveling solo for the very first time.
Similarly, you will need people to talk to, shoulder to lean on, share your experiences with, and accompany you throughout your journey and if you are not used to traveling alone, you most probably will break down at some point due to the loneliness.
3. You will feel awkward to dine out alone
When we are traveling, we treat ourselves to a nice meal at a fancy restaurant. But eating alone is not something that everyone enjoys. Despite a nice ambiance, delicious food, and nice music, we might feel awkward as we are eating alone.
What we can do in this scenario is, head towards the bar. Just get yourself a seat over there because the bar is usually where you will find a lot of other people to talk to. You might also end up meeting a fellow solo traveler. If not, there is always a bartender that you can talk to.
If you are not comfortable with this option, here are other tips that you might find helpful: carrying a book to read while waiting for your food, getting Wi-Fi to catch up with your social media, or eating at low hours when the restaurant is not that crowded.
4. You might get homesick during your solo travel
This feeling is one thing that is inevitable as you will start missing the comfort of your house, your family, your bed, and just about anything back home. But let me also tell you that it is absolutely normal to feel so and the feeling will go away the moment you start enjoying your trip and taking it like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
At this moment it is so easy to give up and return home to comfort but, solo travelers are a lot stronger than this so, keep this in mind and soon you will start enjoying your travel again.
5. You are your own planner, navigator, and support system which might seem like a lot to do
One thing nobody prepares you about is that you are the only person in charge which may make your journey hectic and chaotic rather than fun and entertaining. This is one point that everyone is well aware of but they refuse to acknowledge it until they grasp the fact that there is no shoulder to lean on.
The decisions you make can be foolish at times and there will be no one to suggest you otherwise, revisit your decision, or even correct you for that matter. Similarly, such situations will put you through the test as until now you are following your elder’s footsteps. If not, at least they had your back in case you put yourself in a difficult situation.
We all see travel as vacation and it only makes sense if we enjoy this time to the fullest without any stress. In reality, it can be a huge mess as you are creating an itinerary, booking your accommodation, finding places to go to, researching the destination, and learning about the local cuisine all by yourself.
This is just a reality check that traveling alone is not a fairy tale as it will test your limits, patience, and willpower. So, the only way to balance things out is to take a break to relax and not do anything for a day, take the pressure away from your shoulder, and focus on enjoying the trip.
6. It ends faster once you have settled down
Pre-vacation anxiety is the most overwhelming and irritating thing that you will face when you are traveling solo. The countdown on your head until you reach the airport is what creates all the problems. The doubts are created because there can be questions popping inside your head. Until you have reached your destination, you constantly keep thinking if you have made the right decision, if you will be safe, or enjoy your trip to the fullest.
Once you have landed, you allow a few days to settle in. In a few days, you start finding the place interesting and just when you have started to enjoy the trip, it is time to head back. Now that it feels like your new home and the routine has settled in, you will be surprised as to why you were so skeptical in the first place. So, try to settle down into a routine as quickly as you can to make the most out of your trip.
7. You are your own caretaker so, take care of yourself
Take good care of yourself to guarantee a healthy trip and for that, you might have to cut down the consumption of too many street foods. This might add up to your budget but this is the harsh reality of traveling solo. And, this is one thing that you must tell yourself before heading out for your vacation.
Similarly to minimize the risk, carry some mild pain relievers, anti-diarrheal, and cold drugs at whatever point you are traveling, for you, might require it on the off chance that you face some medical issues. Not only physically but, you must also prepare yourself mentally for all the challenges that come your way throughout your trip.
8. Know that solo travel prevents you from doing certain activities
As much as you get the urge to go all out and see the world on your terms, solo travel will prevent you from doing so. There will be many instances where you unwantedly have to hold yourself from doing certain activities. Here are some of the examples that will clarify a lot of things. Hiking alone is not an option so, if you are an avid hiker, this might ruin your solo travel experience.
Exploring a city at night all by yourself is another risky event that you must not even think of doing. Similarly, off-the-beaten-paths are not your options and that is why your travel will be limited to exploring the popular tourist sites.
I understand that taking care of yourself seems like so much to do right now but, safety is what we can never compromise with. And, if there is anything that you really want to do, you can always come back with your friends, family, or partner. Plus, it works as a great incentive for you to travel back to this destination again!
9. You will get bored during your solo travel
If you are traveling for a long period of time, you can easily get bored. This might happen to you even if you are traveling just for a week because traveling alone is a task in itself. Not everything you see will fascinate you, not every city you visit will take your breath away, nor every adventure you do will ignite your passion for travel, and let’s not even start about having to dine out alone.
You might also have to just stay back at your hotel room watching a Netflix show as exploring the nightlife alone is another rule that is forbidden for female solo travel.
However, there are certain things that you can try to combat boredom during solo travel: take a tour nearby around tourist areas, try a hop-on-hop-off bus to see the city, get a ticket to a cultural play, or just hang out with like-minded people if you are staying in a hostel.
I believe that these facts will prepare you for all the challenges that you might face during your solo venture so, do not let the fear of traveling alone stop you from going on an amazing adventure. Have a great solo trip!
It’s a wrap!
So that is it! I hope you got to know things that no one tells you about solo travel. What do you think of the list? Also, do let me know in the comments below if you have additional points that you think should make it to this list.