Solo travel can be daunting, especially if you’re a lady. Well, most especially if you’re a young lady who’s appearances tend to stick out and who’s language learning ability is not strong. That’s me. I’m the first one to admit that solo travel can seem big and scary, but once you have some preparation under your belt and your mindset right, solo travel can be one of the most empowering and freeing experiences ever.
My experience with solo travel has been hazy. I’ve gone lots of places alone, but have almost always had someone to meet on the other end whether that be to see a friend, start a new school, or participate in a program. In fact, this has become so customary that I far prefer to fly alone than with someone else, because I know I can go at my own pace. The task of physically delivering myself to a new place is pretty much second nature to me now. But, when I land in a foreign country and don’t have anyone on the other side to greet me? It’s kinda terrifying. All of a sudden things bear their full weight on me, and me alone. I need to make every decision the entire time, and if I struggle, I need to be able to get it together. Lost without phone service? Missed a flight? Don’t speak the language? It’s all on me to figure it out.
Now this may not seem super encouraging. You may be saying ” But Mon, I clicked on this post so that I could be inspired to wander and jetset my life away…” Well I want you to do that, truly. But, a big part of traveling on your own means accepting responsibility for yourself up front. Don’t go into it blind, or you’re going to be taken advantage of and be overwhelmed. My very first solo trip to Lima (read about it here) was not at all what I was anticipating. I got ripped off by my taxi driver because I didn’t have a plan walking out of the airport. I looked like the gringa I was and I can’t blame the guy for jumping at an opportunity. I also got hit on by a very strange man, and almost got myself into a sticky situation by getting into a car with him after he got me drunk. Shit happens! And you need to be ready for it!
You also need to trust your gut. When things like that happen, you can’t sit questioning yourself. Be smart and listen to what your body is telling you. I see solo travel as a crazy trust exercise with yourself. You’re leaping into the unknown and need to be there when you fall. It sounds weird, but ultimately you get this beautiful opportunity to get to know yourself better. You push your own boundaries, you decide what you want to do, where you want to go, what you are capable of. It opens up the door to an enlightened understanding of both your own heart, and the world. I think the most inspiring stories are that of Liz Gilbert and Cheryl Strayed, women who saw this beautiful opportunity, and took it to help discover themselves.
Now, not all solo travel needs to have this deep, underlying motive to “find yourself”. You can be perfectly fine with who you are and still have a ton of fun out there. My entire trip this summer was just so I could galivant around Europe and see places I had always wanted to. I had a ton of fun, and although I always knew at least one person, for the majority of the days, I was really alone. I had the freedom to do literally whatever I wanted and didn’t have to compromise with anybody. That sounds a little selfish, but it was kind of a selfish trip if I’m to be honest.
Now enough about me, we are here to talk about you. When you go, wherever you go, I suggest having at least a loose plan. Some things are not as important, like what museums you’re going to see or restaurants you’re going to go to, but knowing how you’re going to get to and from the airport for example, is a great start. Be mindful about when you will and will not have phone service/ access to Wifi. If you can screenshot directions (or better yet actually write them down) for major locations throughout your trip, it will save you some headaches in the moment. Also, having a loose budget is not a bad idea. Most people either just wing it, or hyper plan and designate every dollar before they even leave. Don’t do either of these. Have an idea of what you can spend per day, but always, always, leave some flexibility for the inevitable. Budget travel usually has some kinks to it. You should be strategic in what you pack (I’ve elaborated here), and last but not least (say it with me) have fun!
I feel, to ease you into the world of Solo Travel, you should start with a trip to Europe. It is very easy to navigate, it’s well equipped to accommodate travelers, it’s relatively affordable, and it will help you get some experience under your belt. For a way more detailed description of how I plan a Europe trip, click here.
My final point is by far the most important one. Be open to meeting new people. This is just something to live by in life, but especially when you travel alone. It is such an amazing experience meeting people along your trip, and essentially making a set of friends around the world. I no lie have met people once, added them on social media, and have kept in touch for years. I feel totally comfortable reaching out to them if I ever find myself geographically close to them, and they make my trip so much more enjoyable in the moment. Everyone needs people, so even if you start your trip alone, I guarantee you won’t end it alone. Be bold!
At the end of the day, being bold is really what it takes to go on a solo trip, but don’t be afraid of that. Let yourself experience the joy and freedom of traveling alone and understand why so many people rave about it!!!
As always, if you have more tips, questions or comments, leave them below and don’t forget to subscribe for updates on new posts! Love y’all!