The thought of it is daunting: stranded, no place to go, lost… this is the nightmare for many solo travelers.
Travelling alone is my reality, not by force but by choice.
So many people remark: “You’re so brave!” True, I’m as brave as batman and superman combined. But anyhow, my superpowers have nothing to do with travelling. You may need a pinch of bravery but you also need what I suspect all these people lack, a wealthy supply of common sense.
So here are some points which my fellow solo travelers will agree with, that proves we have it better.
Be flexible with your travel plans.
Let’s face it, hardly anything ever goes to plan. You might like a town and want to stay longer then the stories of fist sized mosquitoes might put you off visiting another. Changing plans is difficult if your friend is actually into fist sized mosquitoes and this is where a rift starts. Do yourself a favour and fly solo. Websites like webjet finds you amazing deals on domestic flights in Australia so you’re spoilt for choice where to explore next!
Meet new friends.
As a group of two or four, you tend to move and think as a unit. Say you meet someone you think is really cool but the others would rather not hang out with them then you’ve lost a potential friend for life. It’s petty how even travelers stick to their cliques but it happens. Being alone forces you to say hello and really get to know someone.
Have time to yourself.
In Melbourne I had an amazing job, friends that have become family and a gorgeous apartment. I was setting up a lifestyle for myself which I cannot say I do not miss. I know I will have that back one day but for the time being I think a trip travelling alone is what I needed to get out and clear my head. It was literally a now or never situation. The whole reason I came out to Australia was to explore as many places as possible and really discover what makes me happy. What makes me happy is always pushing myself to see what’s out there. I know my friends and my bar in Melbourne will be waiting for me to hear of all the stories I’ve got when I get back.
Stuff paying for expensive drinks at a fancy nightclub because your friend has got all the money for it. What’s wrong with the humble bar down the road? Meet up with your hostel buddies and enjoy those Tuesday night drink specials, yo. Expensive nightclubs are overrated anyway.
Save your friendship.
It must be easy to get on each other’s nerves if you’re together every day, or maybe I’m just that annoying. I’ve heard many stories of friends falling out because one wants to go this way but the other wants to go that way then one has to leave because they have plans that doesn’t concern the other, and it all becomes kaput. It’s not surprising to hear “I came to Australia with a friend… but now I’m travelling alone.”
I don’t know about you but I am a keen dinosaur exhibit enthusiast. Actually, I enjoy exhibits of most kinds. Hence, you will most likely find me in the museum or gallery of any town I’m in. Anything historical or artsy, count me in. I’m not a party backpacker although I definitely enjoy those wild weekends. But unless you want to be hauled around a museum for 2+ hours then leave me in peace.
Say “I did this myself” and feel like you’ve achieved something.
You’ve done this. You. You saved the money, booked the flights, researched the hostels and just went for it. The feeling of getting so far and realising how far you’ve come is amazing.
However, I am going to play the devil’s advocate here. For a short trip I’d probably want to exercise my independence and go for it alone. That’s the introvert in me. I love writing my journal, walking in forests, being boring wandering museum exhibitions and such. But I must admit there are a handful of advantages to travelling with a friend for long journeys. In my experience, anything longer than two months I’d probably want to seek a companion.
There are times when you see something cool happening but there’s no one around to share the experience with. My advice is to make connections if you’re going to be travelling alone. That way, I alternate between enjoying solo time and having a wonderful time with lovely hosts. I’m lucky that I have family in Melbourne, Sydney, Taree, Port Macquarie and Maryborough. However, I also reached out to a friend I met in Scotland who lives in Brisbane. Also, a girlfriend from Melbourne has even put me in touch with her mother in the Sunshine Coast! I’m currently getting in touch with a girl around my age who is a friend of a distant family I stayed with just last week. She lives in Townsville which is one of my stops and means I’ll have someone new to meet and to hang out with. Connections, connections, connections people.
So there you go, the pros and cons of travelling the world by yourself. You’ll be cooed at for being sooooo brave but also pitied. Ultimately, you need to get out there and be independent but in the end having a buddy makes it a bit easier. That way if you’re stranded with no place to go and lost then… well, you just won’t be freaking out alone. You’ll still be lost though.