Here at Travel World Passport we believe, that everyone should try solo traveling at least once in their life. Traveling alone is fun and rewarding. Read about why people do this, where to go by yourself and how to prepare for a solo journey.
Because it gives you a sense of freedom you cannot get while in company. You aren’t responsible for anyone but yourself. The decision where to go, what to see, who to talk to is entirely yours. No compromises. You do exactly what you want and only the things you are interested in. That gives you the ability to experience more, to travel better, to have memories that are more personal, to explore unfamiliar places for your own. And if you waste a full day getting to a museum out of town that happens to be closed that day, it will only be your time wasted and nobody will blame you for it.
Solo traveling is particularly helpful, if you have the need to focus a little bit more on your spiritual life. Do you know ‘Eat, pray, love”? This is exactly what Elizabeth does: she’s not just traveling – she’s taking a spiritual journey. People do that when they feel lost in their lives. In order to find their way, they need a perspective. And a good way to get one is to travel.
However, the reason for traveling alone may be much simpler: there might not be anybody to travel with. Your friends have no desire of going where you want to go. They’re not as passionate about Thailand as you are, which is weird, but hey, it’s their choice, right? Or, you decide to go alone, because it’s impossible to go with someone you want to go with the most. Like Janice Waugh, the expert on solo traveling and the author of the book “The Solo Traveler Handbook”. She went on her first solo travel after her husband passed away. In any case, there is no reason whatsoever for you not to go! Because “I’m not going alone” is not a reason good enough.
Convinced already? Good. The next question is…
WHERE TO TRAVEL BY YOURSELF?
The answer: some place safe. This is crucial. Going solo to a country where the situation is unstable (currently, due to riots, the list includes for example Turkey) is not brave. It’s not adventurous. It’s plain stupid. Going alone means that if something bad happens, there will be no witness, noone to go get help, and in the worst case scenario, nobody to point where to look for the body.
For backpacking solo a lot of people recommend Australia and New Zealand. The landscapes there are breathtaking, the nature is extraordinary and there are a lot of affordable facilities, mostly youth hostels, where you can spend the night and take off first thing in the morning.
The most frequent destination point for spiritual traveling seems to be India, with it’s abundance of ashrams and gurus willing to help you meditate and focus on yourself. If however you’re not that much into yoga and Buddhism, Spain might just be the place for you. There you can take the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James) – one of the oldest pilgrim routes in the world. There are plenty of starting points for this route, but they all end in one place: the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostella in the northwestern part of Spain. On the way there are a lot of shelters for pilgrims, run by parishes, local authorities and private owners.
If you want to live a little while traveling alone, the best choice is always a big city, where you can be anonymous and have as much fun as you can meeting new people. Because meeting new people is easier when you are a solo traveler. If you want, you can alter your personality a little, become someone else for a while – without anyone watching and judging. In big cities people are usually more open to foreigners and the night life is really exciting. You can choose London, Beijing or even Moscow (trust us, it’s not as crazy as it sounds!), but we recommend smaller, less obvious capitals, like Bucharest, Ljubljana, Tbilisi or Riga. Give them a try, and you might be surprised.
Traveling solo is a special form of traveling, so it needs a special form of preparation. There are 3 rules you need to keep in mind:
1) Tell someone. Going solo might be dangerous. So just to be safe show someone your travel plan. We get it – nothing is set in stone yet, a lot of things may be decided on in a spur of a moment, but giving a general idea of what your destinations are is enough. Tell your friends. Inform your parents… Hell, rub it in the face of a colleague you never liked. Don’t for a minute think it’s not important. Also, Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Departments of State in many countries have developed a system of travels registration like STEP (Smart Travel Enrollment Program) in the USA. Use it. This way even in unpredictable circumstances your government might help you more efficiently.
2) Pack wisely. Packing light is not only for globetrotters. A heavy baggage makes your trip difficult, especially when you’re alone. There isn’t anybody to help you carry it or watch it while you buy the tickets, use a bathroom, read a map… Remember that the handier your luggage, the more comfortable your trip. Also, you can buy some of the stuff while traveling. Which brings us to money – it is generally a good idea to have an emergency credit card stashed somewhere safe. This way no matter what happens, you are always able to return home. (BTW, Martta has a great piece for you on how to pack.)
3) Plan. Buy tickets in advance. Do the same thing with accommodation: a lot of hostels and hotels nowadays allow you to cancel your reservation free of charge up to 1 day prior arrival date. Also, try to plan arriving to the new place at daytime – for safety reasons.
Remember, you don’t have to stick to the plan all the time! Be spontaneous! Go with your gut! Do whatever you want! You need a plan to more or less have an idea of what you want to do and to make sure you always have a place to stay. Sleeping on the park bench can be an adventure, but not when it’s -4ºC (in Fahrenheits it’s almost 25º, which seems warmer, but it’s not!).
Now that you know all the cool places for solo traveling and the best tips on how to prepare for traveling alone, we bet you want to try it! It certainly sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? Tell us what you think! And if you flew solo already – share with us what you liked most about it! The comment box is all yours!