Traveling solo is not for everyone. Period. However, you would never know till you try, right? I am the kind of person who loves hanging out with my friends and being social so I always had this mindset that solo traveling was not for me. Boy, was I wrong!
My first solo adventure was full of reluctance and as I packed my backpack to head off to Laos where I knew no one and had made absolutely no plans – not even a single hotel booking, I was apprehensive, to say the least. After stocking my laptop with 80 movies (Yes, 80 – I tend to binge watch sometime) incase I got bored in my 12 day trip, I headed off with butterflies in my stomach.
That trip changed my life.
I learnt so much and truly enjoyed making friends, learning new things and exploring places with my newly found travel mates. As soon as I went to the first hostel on the block, I made friends in literally 10 minutes. It helped that I had contacted a Couchsurfer before to aquatint me with the area. Overall, I came back confident of tackling anything on my own and facing challenges – Like when I lost $800 in Vang Vieng or crashed my bike and had to book a wheelchair for my return flight – it was all part and parcel of experience. An experience which was so good for me that it changed the way I travel, meet people and look at things – forever!
I could talk about it and inspire you to travel solo all day but you just need to DO IT once and experience it for yourself. No one can push you to get out of your comfort zone but if you do happen to try it after reading this blog, you will surely come back and thank me.
Enough said, here are some tips for when you do decide to go your own solo adventure –
Interact with locals
I feel that you don’t really immerse yourself in the culture and enjoy a destination thoroughly unless you meet the locals. If you feel comfortable, I would suggest living with locals and you will know the best underground spots in town and have your own local pal to take you to places tourists tend to skip. For this, I highly recommend signing up for Couchsurfing or try some of the home stays.
Make new friends
When you travel solo, you simply cannot afford to be shy or anti-social. Push yourself, if need be, but always smile at others and try to start a conversation. A simple “Hi” can take you a long way and then the usual traveler questions would follow – Where are you from, how long are you staying, which all places have you traveled to, where are you going next – blah blah! By the end of your trip, you will get tired of answering the same questions again and again but I promise you will have a lot of fun with your new friends (Plus.. shhhhh… if you hate them you can ditch them). That’s the beauty of making friends on the go, luckily I only ever met 1-2 annoying peeps and hundreds of awesome ones.
Stay in hostels
If you are not comfortable living with locals, pick a popular hostel. Ensure there are people in the hostel by checking availability online – Trust me, you don’t want to be the only one in the hostel. Happened to me once and I loved it for one whole day..before boredom seeped in. So yeah pick a nice hostel with a good vibe and smile. This one tip can make or break your journey.
Don’t rush things and I would say go unplanned. You will meet a lot of interesting people and if you happen to make a good travel buddy, you can always tag along with them on their adventures. So keep open plans, relax and preferably, keep an open return ticket. You will end up having too much fun to go back.
Go out of your comfort zone
Try new things and always get out there. New adventures await you and you might need a little nudge but it’s all worth it in the end. For example, I tried dirt biking in Laos and it was one of my top experiences ever. I wish I had proper Motorcycle apparel and gear like those funky Fly Motorcycle jackets or comfy Icon gloves to strut in style but I was so nervous initially that I simply wore my rugged denims and tank. We drove through winding roads of Laos, exploring valleys and doing stunts in dirt. Ultimate adventure, I would say.
I cannot emphasize this point enough. It is so very important to be careful when you are alone especially with your money and documents. Keep copies of all your documents (photo copies as well as digital on your laptop/phone). Tug your cash and cards away in different places to ensure you always have some emergency money. Be street smart and use your intuition before making any decisions. Remember, you are on your own!
Have fun and take lots of pictures
Last but not the least, remember to simply chill and have fun. Don’t be on the edge or feel pressured into doing anything – Go with the flow but make your own decisions. Take a shit ton of pictures as you will want to look at them later and relive the fond memories of your first solo adventure.
So have you already had your first solo adventure or are still thinking about one?