So when it comes to traveling solo, there are some standard questions that keep popping up. I’m asked these ALL the time. So I thought I’d make it a little easier and put it all in one place, hopefully answering everything you might need to know about taking the leap.
Guys. I LOVE traveling solo. It is the most liberating, enthralling, exciting, scary-as-hell, unforgettable thing in the whole world, and I’d do it over and over again. I recommend it to everyone I meet, and everyone who asks me about my travels. I get a kick out of getting into a flight and happily upgrading to the emergency row window seat, because I’m by myself. I loooove it when I waltz into a fully packed restaurant and STILL get a spot, because HEY, I’m a solo traveler and there’s always a seat at the bar for folks like us. I gloat over the fact that I never have to share my meals (yeah, yeah, it can get kinda expensive, but it’s GOOD FOOD guys, d’you know how important good food is? Very, very important indeed.), OR my dessert! But above all, I do imaginary cartwheels of joy at the very nerve-inducing prospect of meeting new people and immersing myself in new cultures. I experience shivers and thrills at the idea of being able to do WHATEVER I WANT without having to consult someone else. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a whole lot of fun going with folks you’re really travel-compatible with (it’s a thing), but it can’t eclipse the unbelievable, unbeatable awesomeness of going solo.
When people ask me this question, I know where it’s coming from. We’ve been brought up to believe the outside world is full of strange, unfriendly people and places. We’ve grown up believing something scary is lurking around the corner, which is why our guard is always up. We’re used to a certain level of comfort and tradition, so breaking out of it is not something that comes naturally, and this holds true for absolutely anything, doesn’t it. I understand.
This question also holds the door for a lot of others. The ‘how’ does not necessarily mean ‘how did you break out of said dogma and comfort zone?’ It also means ‘no but seriously, how do you do it? Like, how do you decide where to go? How do you convince your parents you want to do it? How do you ensure your safety? How do you manage your money?’
Valid concerns. It was confusing as HELL the first time around. But then it got easier. And easier. And easier. And now it’s like my brain is on autopilot, and background apps keep running, thinking of the next destination, the perfect photo op, visa requirements, how much a couple nights in Cambodia would cost, is there an offer on my credit card I can use? Maybe I should check that Mumbai – Paris roundtrip flight again, prices may have dropped, it’s a Tuesday.. See? Autopilot.
I’m answering the most-asked questions right here. It’s also a handy guide for planning a trip the first time around, I hope it helps
- How did you convince your parents to let you go?
I’ll be honest, the first time I mentioned wanting to do this, they weren’t happy about it. They let it slide, possibly thinking it was a whim, a passing fancy. Very subtly, they tried dissuading me over the next couple of days – ‘have you seen this all-girl group going to Spain? Sounds so cool!’ And ‘This guy was in Europe and he got kidnapped, omg.’ And the likes. I was persistent, though, and I knew what they were trying to do. So I sat them down and told them that I really wanted to do this, and I wanted their support on it, so I’d let them pick where I could go. That way, I got what I wanted, and they were comfortable with it. It was a joint decision. I went to Hungary, Czech Republic and Austria for my first ever solo trip. And not without their blessing.
So involve them, you guys. They’re your parents and they love you and want you to be happy. If they have doubts, clear them. If they’re worried, help them understand why they don’t need to worry. It’s not that hard.
2. How do you ensure you’d stay safe?
It’s very, very easy. It’s so simple that it’s almost a no-brainer, and I cant stress on how important it is. Be alert. Be conscious. Be aware. That is ALL. Tell me, what are the most common issues we worry about? Getting mugged. Having our money and passport stolen. Getting kidnapped.
I’ll be honest here – these issues exist in your own country as much as anyone else’s. Granted, you look a little more exotic elsewhere than back at home, but a little alertness can go a LONG way in making sure your travels go seamlessly. Don’t lose control of your senses if you’re not around people you don’t trust. Don’k seek assistance from anyone who looks like they might be out for something else. Don’t venture alone down dark alleyways. Don’t frequent less-crowded places when it’s a little late in the day. Keep your parents and some friends informed of your whereabouts at all times, and keep your phone charged. Carry mace, for emergencies.
TRUST YOUR GUT and you’ll be fine.
I’ve not faced a single untoward incident so far. I’m always conscious of myself and my belongings, and it’s worked for me.
3. How do you decide where to go solo for the first time?
Well, the first time around, like I said, my parents picked my countries. After that though, I’ve only ever looked at the cheapest flight tickets, lol.
I understand safety is of paramount concern the first time around, so here’s what you could do. Read up a bit about the country in general, and get a sense of the culture and mindset. Does it work for you? Can you blend in atleast partially, without sticking out like a tourist-sore-thumb?
Europe is largely safe, and there’s plenty to do and see and it’s really easy to get around. Good option for a first-timer. As is Southeast Asia.
The best part is these regions are dominated by travelers, moreso by backpackers! You’ll never feel out of place, or unsafe, or alone, so go for it!
If you need help picking a place, drop me a line, and I’ll be happy to walk you through it 🙂
4. Isn’t it expensive?
I won’t lie to you. Travel costs money. And solo travel can be slightly more expensive because you don’t have anyone to split costs with. You end up bearing the cost for your room, your food, and private transport makes absolutely no sense. Everything costs money, some things more than others, but you’ve got to figure out what your priorities are, and move your funds there.
I save like a crazy person, I’m extremely stingy when it comes to shopping (which is probably why you’ll see me wearing the same thing in half my photographs), partying, eating and drinking out.. I save wherever I can, and allocate that money to my travels!
And when I travel, I do it on a budget. Hostels, local food, public transport, flight deals.. It takes a little bit of research, but I end up saving quite a bit on my travels as well!
So figure out what your goals are, what your priorities are, and use your money wisely. Travel is expensive, yes, but there are ways to cut costs, which are entirely up to you!
5. Don’t you get bored or lonely? I’m not one for being alone.
I always quote this example.
Before I left for my first trip, I bought a book at the airport, thinking I’d need it when I was alone, or during a commute. Today, it’s lying on my shelf, still unopened.
I was never lonely. I met someone fascinating and amazing and new and different every single step of the way! People are really sweet and friendly, you’ll end up making so many friends and finding so many people to do things with. Trust me, the fear of getting bored or being lonely should not stop you from doing this!
But put yourself out there. If you take a fancy ol’ hotel room, and book private tours, you’re definitely not meeting anyone new. Stay in hostels or an Airbnb, go on group tours, and you’ll be surprised how much you hit it off with like-minded travelers.
6. Aren’t you scared?
I think the fear of being by myself in a new place gets overshadowed by the bubbles of excitement in my belly and the happy-child thrill of exploring and discovering. It’s like a cocktail of anticipation and trepidation blended together with my favourite ice-cream and unbounded excitement, add a dash of wine, maybe, and top it off with a pretty li’l umbrella! So yes, a little bit of nervousness does exist, but not enough to stop me from getting out. After all, life begins at the end of your comfort zone, doesn’t it? 🙂
That’s my two cents 🙂
The world is your playground, y’all. If this is what you wanna do, do it.
More than happy to answer absolutely ANYTHING else you’d wanna know, feel free to shoot me a line or drop your question in the comments below!