It was only 5 weeks into my trip, when I was sat on my flight from Sri Lanka that it really struck me that I had fallen into this ‘Solo Traveller’ bracket. There I was flicking through the ever-engaging Singapore Airlines in-flight magazine, when I came across an article called ‘Going Solo’, and I couldn’t believe how much it rang true. So I thought I’d give an insight into my experiences, alongside a few of my top tips to allow yourself to embrace the art of travelling solo.
According to Google trends, the term ‘solo-travel’ rose 50% between January 2015 – December 2017, but more interestingly (to me anyway) is that in the past year over 75% of these ‘solo travellers’ have been female.
Why? I mean, it’s not totally clear cut, but I have a few suspicions:
– Women are becoming more financially independent & consequently more apt to travel.
– A wide social shift in independence & personal freedom.
– The Instagram Movement – I really do believe this plays a huge part, so many females are seeing photos of beautiful destinations, and just wanting to book a flight and leave ASAP.
– Finally, something I really believe is the key defining factor in all of this – ‘Technology’ – smartphones allow people to feel comfortable, safe and connected anywhere on the planet; something that just didn’t exist 10 years ago.
Don’t get me wrong, travelling with my nearest and dearest have been some of the greatest times of my life, but there is nothing like the freedom of having your own schedule and the satisfaction gained from adventuring alone.
My First Hand Experience
– I found that I am more present and have paid better attention to details than when I’d travelled with friends.
– I have definitely been more open-minded to new activities, partially because I have had no excuses to say no, but also because it’s been a great way to meet new people.
– Don’t fear eating alone. Whilst I haven’t found myself sat in any white-table cloth restaurants alone, I have sourced out places that have bar seating. You’ll be surprised how many people are in the same situation, and by the end of the meal you’re unlikely to have sat like a lonely lemon for the whole thing (even if it is just the bar man that’s engaged with you for the past hour).
– Whilst I don’t know that I can claim I’ve mastered the art of solo-travel just yet, I can claim to have become acquainted to the various shades of solitude: from the occasional bouts of loneliness to the unencumbered joy of absolute freedom.
My Top Tips For Travelling Alone
– DO YOUR RESEARCH Whilst we all love to think ‘wouldn’t it be great to just book flights, accommodation etc as we go along on the trip’, this just isn’t something I’d recommend do when travelling solo. Whilst I’m a stickler for a good spreadsheet, I didn’t want to ‘over-plan’ my trip. However, I had booked all my flights, and most of my accommodation prior to leaving. This didn’t leave me feeling restricted at any point in my trip thanks to the research I had done to ensure I spent enough time in each place. However, this did hugely reassure me (& my family) that when I was arriving to a new destination I at least knew where I was resting my head that night. The last thing you want to be doing is arriving in Sri Lanka at midnight and trying to find somewhere to stay.
– STAY CONNECTED Don’t forget there are people at home that are still living their everyday lives, and worrying about you. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your travel bubble and forget this. So keep them in the loop, I found that making a group WhatsApp for my nearest and dearest so that I just had to send one message was the easiest way! But also grab an app like Find My Friends, just so they can check in.
– THINK SMART It’s easy to get carried away with taking on a carefree attitude when so far from everyday life, but personal safety must never be forgotten. I found that simple things like only withdrawing cash during the day, not wandering around at night without reason , staying covered up in the evening (I’m not talking full body suit, just be sensible, take a scarf to cover your shoulders, chest etc.). I have met some people that take this pretty seriously – I’m talking wearing a fake wedding ring to keep unwanted attention at bay, but I can’t say I took to this.
The Habit Hunter x