It’s coming up to 3 years since I embarked on my first solo trip. I can remember the moment when I got the bug. When I stood in the middle of the Swiss Alps and said ‘I’m hooked. I want to travel as much as I can.’ It took a lot for me to get to that point, to have the guts to go for it – to travel solo.
I also remember the moment that I decided to take the plunge. I desperately wanted a holiday – nothing too fancy, just a beach holiday would have done – but none of my friends could go with me. Either they were saving up for a wedding, or had children that they couldn’t leave, or just simply couldn’t afford it. That’s when I realised that I had the perfect excuse – no partner, no children, no mortgage and the freedom to jet off by myself.
The problem was that I had never thought of myself as a traveller. I like my home comforts and never liked the idea of living out of a backpack and staying in hostels for 6 months to a year. To be honest, I still don’t. It just doesn’t appeal because I start to miss those home comforts after a while. Also, I need to work in order to travel and my work isn’t in the form of online freelancing. So eventually I have to get back, to earn money, to travel again. It’s a great formula for me but it’s why I thought that I could never coin myself as a “traveller,” because I can’t jet off for months on end.
The thing is that you don’t need to. That first solo experience doesn’t need to be the grand ‘take a year off work’ experience that you hear so much about. You don’t have to travel to the other side of the world. If you want to, that’s great! However, if the thought of solo travel is a bit daunting just remember that you can take baby steps.
My first trip was just two weeks in the form of a tour from London to Rome, and another mini tour down the Amalfi Coast. No organising on my part other than getting to London and getting back from Rome. The companies did everything else for me. They took me places and they flung me in with a group of people who were all there to see the same sights as me. I had the perfect trip all packaged in one – not too long, not too far away (so everything was familiar) and a group of people to make friends with. There was no effort required on my part other than to enjoy the ride.
From that trip, I started to dip into different solo quests. My second trip was to fly half way around the world to stay with friends in Cape Town – again this was perfect. I only had 10 days, had free accommodation and people who were eager to show off their beautiful country. Once again, all I had to worry about was getting myself there and back. Easy. I also took smaller breaks around Europe whenever I could – to Dublin and Barcelona – all in anticipation to my next big trip to the backpackers paradise of Thailand.
Thailand seemed like a good spot to try out a bigger trip because so many travellers go there. I still opted for the comfort of a tour – I had never ventured to Asia before and it seemed like the safest option for me as a solo female traveller, but this time the tour was only a week and I had 10 days at the end to do what I wanted. This ended up being amazing because so many from my group ended up carrying on together for a few more days. All in all, I ended up with about three days at the end where I was solo from the group – perfect for winding down on the beach ready to jet back home.
From that trip, I decided to take a bigger plunge. I would take a break, save lots of money over the year and take 5 weeks off to explore USA and Canada. There was a certain amount of comfort from this trip – a westernised continent with lots of familiarity to my own home. I knew I would feel confident travelling from A to B around Northern America. Once again, I opted for a trip, but only within the area that I was unsure that I would feel confident travelling completely solo – the Rockies. I loved having the freedom of venturing from city to city and exploring at my own pace and also the comfort of having a tour guide take me around the places that I never would have found on my own. For me, it was the perfect combination of my travel style and I have loved the journey I have taken to get to there.
So, taking the leap doesn’t have to be huge. The decision and guts to actually do it is the leap. If you want to travel half way across the world for 6 months then do it! If you want to explore what’s on your doorstep first then do that! There’s no wrong way to go about it. Go see the places you want to explore, wherever you feel comfortable exploring solo. Taking the leap was the best feeling in the world for me, and I know I’ll never look back and have any regrets.
Have you traveled solo? What was your experience? Please share with our readers in the comments below! Read Next > Traveling Solo In Antarctica
By We Are Travel Girls Contributor Emily Pearson
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