Anyone who knows me personally knows that this year I have been trying to step out of my comfort zone and by far one of the biggest leaps of faith this year will be solo travelling. I have travelled solo a little bit in the UK for day trips but I have never left the country with anyone apart from my family. In June, I will step aboard a flight to Paris for my first ever Solo Trip. Then a month later, I will be travelling solo from Brisbane to Sydney for 6 days.
I am an introvert through and through and have no problem enjoying my own company but as someone who has always struggled with anxiety I thought solo travel was never an option for me. I always preferred to travel with parents as everything was organised through them and all essentially had to do was show up. But with a convention I really wanted to attend, friends I wanted to meet and a city I really wanted to explore I decided to take the plunge.
Am I excited? Heck Yeah! Am I petrified? You bet ya!
I have always been and probably always will be a worst case scenario type of girl. Will I get lost? Will I get mugged? Will I be safe? Will my flight get cancelled? Will I loose my belongings?
These are all things that went through my head but I sat myself down and calmly thought about how I would encounter and overcome each possibility that was giving me the heebyjeebies. After that I felt much more relaxed and like I could deal with anything that life through at me. Speaking to people who have solo travelled before also really helps! My grandma is a big advocate for solo travel and has been doing so for most of her life. She has really been a big inspiration and has kept sending tips my way!
I can’t wait to see what different perspective solo travelling gives me. It is great to have someone to share the moments with and chat with throughout the day but I am looking forward to be 100% in control of the day and what I do, where I eat and how much I spend. There is definetly a certain freedom attached with that notion that I can’t wait to explore.
Now here are a few of the tips that I have picked up whilst I have been preparing for my solo trips that make the process easier but also more conformable if you are anxious about it:
- Do what feels most comfortable for you – many people when they solo travel will stay in hostels or couch surf. This personally has never sat right with me and is not something I would particularly feel comfortable doing so, so for both trips I have paid for a hotel central to what you are there for. For example in paris, whilst the hotel is not central it is the hotel that the convention I am attending is taking place at. In Sydney, I have spent some extra money so I can stay in the centre of the city. Yes I spent £800 on a hotel and I am going to pretend my credit card bill doesn’t exist for just a smidge longer. But everything is within walking distance and they are places that would be safer to walk alone at night. Pay the extra money for what makes you feel the most comfortable or safer, wether that be taking a taxi or buying a hotel – you can scrimp and save elsewhere but your trip won’t be enjoyable otherwise. As much as I would want to spend hundreds of dollars in Sephora it is not a necessity! Being safe and getting to sleep each night is!
- Be organised – I have a zip locked wallet for each trip I am taking this year and inside is all the relevant documents I will need to hand when I am away: insurance, flight information, hotel confirmation, tickets for attractions and the numbers of the local emergency services as well as hotel information and family information. This will give you piece of mind as you know that everything is at hand and you are well equipped in case of emergency.
- Plan, Plan, Plan – I have found whilst preparing for my solo travels makings sure I have a full schedule means that I will be less anxious and more excited.
- Be aware – Whilst burying your head in the sand about not thinking about things that could go wrong might make you feel better now, when you are actually doing the travelling being clued up about the safety concerns, crime rates, local scams and areas to avoid will make you feel safer in the long run. For example, when we arrive in Montreal we were told not to travel past a certain point on the public transport after dark as it was a pretty rough area.
- Book yourself on a day trip – I am only doing one of these in my travels but it is a lot easier to travel to some of the further out tourist attractions as part of a group. Not only will someone else drive you there (BINGO!) but you will get to meet like mind travellers and you will usually have all of the entrance fees on the trip included in the cost. My blue mountains trip is even picking me up right outside my hotel and I am getting a boat back around the Sydney harbour which is something I wouldn’t be experiencing otherwise.
- Go exploring on your own for short bursts on family trips – This is something I did in Toronto last year as I knew I was considering solo travel and it really did help. After a shopping trip in the Eaton Centre I left my parents and went exploring the district of Church and Wellesley. I had seen some stunning street art on Instagram that i just had to check out so went out on my own for a photography expedition. Yes, I may have got lost – multiple times. Yes I may have almost cried. Yes a lovely couple helped me find what public transport I needed to get on. Yes, I made it back to the hotel in one piece! I honestly think it was a more stressful experience for my parents than me but I came out the other end of it a much stronger human and their faith in my solo travelling abilities has enabled them to be excited and supportive of these next trips!
I am so proud of how far I have come so far even though my feet have yet to step off the ground, a few months ago even booking a solo trip was a notion that I couldn’t comprehend. I don’t think it will start to feel real until I start packing.
Have you been solo travelling or do you plan to? Let me know your experiences, tips or plans down below!