PSA for Solo travelers
Traveling solo had always been a dream of mine. It’s where my mind would run during boring classes, mindless work tasks, or long car rides visiting family. I had taken small road trips by myself but I had never traveled outside of my comfort zone. I knew from a young age however, that traveling solo around the world would one day be inevitable
Back in January of this year a unique but not uncommon opportunity presented itself. After making an account on workaway.info and applying to a few places in Hawaii, a hostel, reached out wanting to interview. Not one day passed before I received the thumbs up to come to Kauai. I knew in that moment that this would be my first big solo adventure.
Prior to my arrival in Kauai I had just traveled Europe for five weeks with my best friend. (You can read about that here) I came back from the adventure of a lifetime believing that I could handle anything that came my way but the fear of traveling alone and feeling lonely still haunted me. I arrived with a nervous energy but quickly settled in. Looking back I can’t help but laugh at every fear I had before this trip. Having the opportunity to work at a hostel has been an incredible experience that has pushed me to meet and befriend so many beautiful people from all over the world especially solo travelers.
Fascinated by this particular club I had just joined I decided to interview a few of them to find out what advice they would give for people that have ever given thought to traveling solo. Here are their responses:
El 18 Australia: “Don’t overthink it, you meet the most amazing people when you’re by yourself and you don’t get those opportunities when you’re alone.”
It’s so easy to over think all the little details before you even book your flight. Being an introvert, I’ve personally been paralyzed by the thought of traveling alone but when I realized I was worrying about the “what ifs” it became easier to dismiss the irrational thoughts and focus on the present moment.
Jake 21 California: “You can plan all you want but your experiences in those places are going to be whatever they were meant to be in the first place.”
I remember making lists of everything I wanted to see In Europe especially Paris. Tying to do everything and running on very little sleep I ultimately overworked myself and ended up getting pretty sick. Make a list be flexible and listen to your body.
Sam 21 Canada: “Book the flight. It’s half the battle. Just be very open minded and willing to talk to anyone and everyone you meet.”
Before traveling to Europe my best friend and I had planned out our trip, bought all of our supplies, and passports before buying our ticket. I still remember the day we did. It’s a big deal! Sam is right though it’s half the battle. The trip doesn’t feel real until the ticket is paid for.
David 24 Spain: “Start small. I traveled my own country alone because I was afraid of not making friends somewhere else. Things work out.”
Before making my leap to travel abroad I explored my home town and the cities around me by myself. It taught me how to be alone without feeling lonely and to me combating loneliness is a huge part of traveling solo.
While I’ll say I have rarely felt loneliness being here I Hawaii I have had really dark moments and during those times I’m glad I was use to the emotion. I had a much better idea on how to handle it.
Luke 21 Oregon: “I did not expect to meet people as fast as I did—staying at a hostel definitely helped in that aspect”
I could not stress enough how important it is to utilize hostels especially if you’re nervous about meeting people. Having stayed at several and working at one, a good majority of the people coming through are solo travelers looking to meet people just like you.
Joel 21 Germany: “I guess you feel more comfortable in uncomfortable situations if you have someone-however you will do a lot of stuff for someone rather than just for you.”
Traveling with someone is an experience all on its own. When I traveled with my best friend of 15 years I learned things about her I never knew existed which made it an unforgettable experience. However when it comes to experiencing the world with someone everything around you is a compromise, what food you eat, how long you stay somewhere, where you go, even how you get around. There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s a natural part of traveling with people but it’s definitely something to consider.
Logan 26 New York: “Traveling alone as a woman—know what parts of town not to hang around in. Especially if you’re trying to do it[travel] cheap.”
Logan made the point that if you want to travel cheap renting a bike might be a better option than an Uber unless you’re in an unsafe area and sometimes the areas are hard to pick out. Not all unsafe areas are rundown slums. (vice versa as well). So how do you figure out which areas are unsafe? Talk to people! Ask people on the plane, reach out to friends, even people you don’t know! People love reliving memories and talking about their traveling experiences.
At the end of the day the advice given by every single solo traveler I talked to was “Just go for it”. By your ticket and trust the world around you. It’s only as scary as you make it to be.