Solo travelling can be an experience like no other! With no friends or family with you, it can be easy to begin daydreaming about sleeping in with no judgement or stuffing our faces day after day, guilt-free.
Travelling solo can indeed produce a wealth of excitement and adventure. It is also true that it brings with it some real struggles. One day your drinking at a hostel bar with new your new fascinating international friends, the next you might find yourself alone and lost in one of the less friendly neighbourhoods in town. If you are thinking of giving solo travelling a try, then make sure know what you are getting yourself into.
- Breaking the news to friends and family that you will be solo travelling
- Having to make new friends
- Bringing your bag with you EVERYWHERE
- Not speaking to anyone for a whole day (or more)
- Relying on selfies
- No one to split the bill with
- Getting lost on your own
- Feeling sick with no one to look after you
- Having no one to share your experiences with
Breaking the news to friends and family that you will be solo travelling
This is something anyone who has considered travelling solo will understand. Before your dream is even close to becoming a reality, expect your parents to ask you thousands of time: “Why would you want to travel ALONE?!”. The same applies to close friends who might take offence to you wanting to travel on your own instead of with them.
Getting questioned by your friends and family is always the first struggle solo travellers face themselves with. Some will question your motives for travelling solo, some your capacity to make friends and others might question your ability to survive on your own! Nearly 100% of the people bombarding you with such questions would have never been solo travelling themselves. They might not understand the numerous reasons there are for wanting to see the world on your own. Don’t let these initial reactions from people put you off of your dream.
Having to make new friends
The fear of not making new friends when travelling alone is probably number one on most peoples list of worries about travelling solo. Images flash through our minds of us sitting alone at a hostel bar, no one wanting to talk to us, checking our phones habitually for any human contact we can find.
This reality can be especially true for those of us who are more introverted and don’t make friends as easily as others. It might be that you are surrounded by more brash extroverts who prevent you from getting a word in or just that you find it hard to build enough courage to start a conversation with someone. Thankfully, there are some suggestions to combat this struggle. You can always book day trips where you find plenty of like-minded solo travellers also looking for friends. Better yet, you could use this opportunity as a chance to grow your social skills and push you out of your comfort zone.
Bringing your bag with you EVERYWHERE
Picture this, you have just arrived at your destination after 8 excruciating hours on a bus with no toilet on board. In a desperate hurry, you grab your bags and head full steam ahead for the bathroom. Just as you enter the door of the bathroom, you realise no one is with you to look after your bag, meaning you have to stuff yourself and your two oversized bags into the cubicle with you.
This situation isn’t unique to bus stations, though. Want to go to the toilet in Mac Donald’s? Better bring your bag. Want to check out that beautiful view at the top of the hill? Be sure to take your bag. With no one around to watch out for your stuff, you have to be extra vigilant and ensure you bring your luggage with you EVERYWHERE when travelling from one spot to another.
Not speaking to anyone for a whole day (or more)
The thought of spending some time alone could seem appealing to some people thinking of travelling solo. Although not all people quite realise just how much time they will spend alone. It is pretty common to leave the hostel in the morning, explore the city all day, and return at night without having said a word to anyone. Especially if you are in a country with locals who speak little English.
While this can sound like heaven to some people, others aren’t as keen on their own company. This can often induce feelings of loneliness in people. The best way to avoid this problem is to hang around the hostel bar – strike up a conversation with the barman and your fellow travellers. Ask about their time in the city, or their experiences travelling so far, you might just find out some useful tips. You could end up finding yourself the perfect companion to accompany you on your next exploration around the city.
Relying on selfies
A common theme for most solo travellers is that their photo albums only consist of two types of photos: photos of incredible views; and selfies with said incredible views in the background. You want to capture this once in a lifetime moment, but also don’t want to look like an obnoxious tourist carrying a selfie stick around.
The only solution to this struggle is to ask a stranger to take a picture of you. It could be helpful to learn how to ask for a photo in the local language. This might seem like an impossible challenge, but it could be the only way to get that photo you so desperately desire.
No one to split the bills with
Splitting the bill on holiday is a ritual many of us take for granted. We all have glorious memories of enjoying delicious meals with friends on holiday and not being able to believe how cheap it was when divided up in the group.
This problem doesn’t just relate to your time spent eating out on holiday. That cab from the airport would be 1/2 the price if you had 2 friends with you. That private hotel room with two beds inside would also be 1/2 the price if you had someone else to share with. As a solo traveller, you have to get used to eating all the costs throughout your trip. There isn’t an easy answer to this problem, you can use tools like Uber Pool to split the cost of taxis, but you will need to find friends to dine with if you want some help covering dinner.
Getting lost on your own
Having two heads instead of one when navigating your way around a new city comes with its advantages. When you get lost in a new place with a friend, it can be an exciting adventure that you will one day retell to all your friends. When you get lost in a foreign place on your own, it can quickly become a scary experience, especially as darkness starts to creep into the sky.
The best thing you can do if you find yourself in this sort of situation is to remain calm and remind yourself that if you got yourself to this point, then you can yourself back to your hostel. It might be a good idea to carry a business card from your hotel or hostel or take down the address on a piece of paper. That way you’ll always have the address to get home, even when your phone has run out of battery. Another tip would be making the most of the free city maps you find in almost every hotel or hostel reception.
Feeling sick with no one to look after you
It’s never nice getting sick, especially when you are on holiday, and even more so if you are alone. No one wants to be the person in a hostel dorm keeping everyone up all night, with there sneezes and coughs, not to mention the fear of spreading the illness.
With no friend to confide in and tell you it’s going to be OK, you can find yourself calling your parents at awkward times to describe your symptoms in the hope they have the magic cure. If you do get sick while travelling solo, take the time to slow down, get some rest and take the break your body is clearly crying out for. It could be a solid move to treat yourself to that private hostel room to ensure you don’t alienate yourself from the rest of the backpackers by keeping them up all night.
Having no one to share the experience with
There will be various times throughout your solo journey that something unbelievable will appear in front of you, you will be dying to discuss this phenomenon, but alas, you will be alone. This can often be a strange realisation for travellers when they find themself faces with incredible beauty but have no one to discuss it with.
That is not to say these moments can’t still be enjoyed when you are alone. Times like this are perfect for self-reflection or journaling your experiences. It will also help you to appreciate your own company and eventually realise some moments are more special when only experienced by yourself.
If you are travelling solo and you are lucky enough to end up in one of the cities we operate in, why not choose Laundryheap as your new laundry companion. We are currently based in London, but our services are available in London, Manchester, Coventry, Birmingham, New York, Dublin, Dubai, Sharjah and Amsterdam.