The toughest decision that faces most gap year and career break travelers isn’t selecting between Africa, Asia, or Europe. Neither is it whether to pack a world travel guide (just in case) or a lifetime’s supply of insect repellent. Selecting whether to opt for travel buddies or go it alone is really one of the most crucial travel decisions you’ll make, and it’s one that’ll affect every part of your holiday.
Whether you’re 17 or 70, going away on your own may appear the most terrifying thing on the planet. Although it appears incredibly daunting, journeying out into the world solo can be a liberating and deeply fulfilling experience. Here’s why every girl should try traveling alone at least once in life, and what to know before you go.
1) YOU’LL BE ABLE TO DO SOME SERIOUS SOUL SEARCHING
Traveling is a terrific way to find out about new cultures and challenge yourself, which does not always mean eating unknown bugs. Whether it’s a touring a vibrant European city, volunteering at a school in Northern Africa, or taking a diving course in Belize, traveling solo will challenge you to try new things and learn face challenges on your own. You’ll learn more about your personal preferences, weaknesses, and strengths, and maybe even fall in love with a new part of the world or activity. Whatever it is, you’ll leave feeling like a more self-aware, empowered, independent person who is ready to take on the world, one new country at a time.
2) IT’S THE BEST WAY TO MAKE FRIENDS
Traveling with friends an amazing experience, but it can also be a restricting one. Although it might feel comforting to go on an adventure with your girlfriends or partner, it is also very easy to find yourself depending on your travel buddies to make conversation, make decisions, or get advice. Ultimately, you’re likely to simply lose out on opportunities to make new friends.
Keep in mind that even when you travel solo, you won’t be alone. It’s easy to find people from all over the world staying in hostels, attending concerts, or bar hopping in the evenings. You’ll meet some of the most interesting people, and might even make a lifelong friend or travel buddy! Remember that you will also find hundreds of travelers who’ve also decided to travel alone, so they’ll be just as keen as you are to make new friends.
If you’d like to be certain that you’ll find a couple of friends when you are traveling, the very best option is to travel with a tour. In an organization or volunteer project, you can often meet the participants in advance so that when you board your flight, you’ll know there will be a few familiar faces when you land in a faraway place. Lots of companies send a friend list out a couple of days before you leave on your trip, which includes contact information for all the vacationers attending the trip so that you can reach out, swap packing tips, or even arrange to be on the same flight.
3) YOU GET TO CALL THE SHOTS WHEN TRAVELING SOLO
Traveling by yourself provides you with the opportunity to be in full control of your itinerary. You can do what you want, eat what you want, see what you want, and spend as much time as you want doing it. You won’t have to compromise on which famous sites you see and how lengthy your vacation is – the schedule is going to be entirely up to you! You may miss your friends, but you’ll also enjoy the freedom of personal preference.
You’ll also have the ability to take full advantage of any opportunities that cross your path. For example, if you make new friends who you’d like to travel with for a couple of days, or if you fall deeply in love with a place and wish to stay there longer, you can! If you’re traveling with a tour and choose that you want to change your trip or project, it’s usually quite easy to make adjustments, and you won’t have to consult with a friend and ensure you both agree on the new plan.
SOLO TRAVEL TIPS
If you are travelling solo, there are a couple of important things you must do to get the most out of your gap year or career-break trip. Here are my suggestions.
BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS AND PERSONAL SAFETY
Traveling is the perfect chance to speak to strangers and make new friends, but it’s even more important when solo to be aware of where you are, what your doing, and who is around you. Personal safety might not be the most exciting thing to think about before a trip but it’s important when you’re in an unfamiliar country without familiar people. Be sure to take precautions when going out at night, such as letting your hotel or friends back home know where you are, being careful to not overindulge, and keeping an eye on your belongings at all times. It’s smart to keep friends and family up-to-date daily, if possible, by sending quick update emails or writing a blog.
For more safety training, consider taking a specialized safety course made for women or travelers that can help you prepare for just about any scenario. You’ll end up having much more confidence about going to a foreign country by yourself.
PREPARE FOR A NEW CULTURE
When you are traveling to a different country, you’re likely to experience some culture shock, especially if you’re heading to a new part of the world. When traveling solo, this can be intensified because you won’t have a familiar face with you. More than ever, when traveling alone, you’ll want to do what you can to foresee cultural differences rather than to be blindsided once you arrive.
The easiest way to make certain you receive the most from your vacation is to do your homework of your location’s cultures, traditions, and history. Take special note of things like tipping culture, appropriate dress, religious traditions common in the area, traffic preparedness (e.g., how to walk across a busy street in Vietnam when there are no crosswalks), topics of conversation that are taboo, questions that would be impersonal to ask, and other cultural nuances that will make you an overall better travel. After all, you are stepping foot in someone else’s home, so it’s vital that you respect the culture of the country you’re visiting.
We hope that this article has inspired you to travel solo! If you have any questions about the destination please leave these in the comments below.
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Great article! I’ve been debating a solo trip lately, this brings it one step closer.
We Are Travel Girls says
Thanks for reading Diana! We’d love you to submit a story about your first solo trip once you go! Hope this gives another tiny piece of motivation. ;) -Vanessa, Founder – We Are Travel Girls
Life...One Big Adventure says
I am about to set out on a +1000km walk to Rome and I felt the need to write little letter to myself! ;-) https://lifeonebigadventure.com/2018/06/13/an-open-letter-to-the-solo-traveller/