SOLO TRAVELING: not another lame guide to traveling alone
Many people ask themselves the big question of ‘what if I take a trip alone?' It’s an idea that initially frightens most of us, but we are curious about.
I have traveled alone on many trips and often people ask me all these absurd questions about it in hopes of resolving any unfounded doubts they may have. So, I decided to dispel some myths and answer those questions that have been asked most frequently in recent years.
I will try not to fall into the lame and banal stuff, you have the internet for all the obvious answers you seek.
1. How do I meet people if I am alone?
We start from a basic assumption that not all places are ideal to travel there alone, but in the right places it is very easy to meet people (some guidelines in this article).
Why? Because there are some tacit pacts between travelers who aim at specific destinations to travel alone; these are not things you hear about so much around but if you start traveling you will understand it for yourself. And in a place where most travelers only travel alone, certainly no one aims to spend a month in solitude.
They are all humans like you, with your own doubts, your own cravings and many of them will travel alone for the first time, like you. Follow these tips and you will see that these fears will pass after your first beer in a new country.
Where to sleep and how
SLEEP IN A HOSTEL! Certainly if you start from the idea of staying in a hotel, meeting people will be almost impossible, so pack your backpacks and set aside your prejudice. There are some hostels that are a thousand times more beautiful than those shitty hotels that cost you 100€ a night.
Always consult Hostelworld, in my opinion the best site to book hostels. There are ratings and reviews made by travelers for specific services offered by the individual hostels; the difference from other sites is that they are extremely truthful and speak to you from one traveler to another, so they give you all the right guidelines. Example: if you find a sad atmosphere definitely not pointing there, find a hostel where people comment on things like "the best solo traveler experience of my life", "fantastic atmosphere, very friendly" etc. Travelers are keen to share and judge their travel experiences, so trust them a little.
Tip #1 - I usually choose a party hostel, maybe it will be a bit louder but they are the ones where people want to get drunk and have fun for sure. There’s no curfew time and the staff are an integral part of the experience, they get drunk and party with you - and I assure you that they always have the best characters, so go on and make friends with them!
Tip #2 - The magic rule of the hostel: choose a relatively small hostel that has an outdoor space and a bar but be careful! Don't choose those with lots of small, separate tables - it will be much more difficult to sit next to someone unless you have a really sweet face. Rather, choose a hostel with one or two large tables to share. I assure you that as soon as you sit down (not necessarily right next to someone) and pop open your first beer all the people close to you will begin to talk to you and bring up the usual questions that will become the new soundtrack of your journey “where do you come from, where are you going, where have you been”, and in no time they will be your new best friends. This is the golden rule, believe me.
Go to the right destinations
As mentioned in other posts, there are better and worse places to travel alone (some directives in this article). As a general rule of thumb, I would say that if you want to party all night but you're the drunk and chatty guy, you're headed to South America - this doesn't mean you won't go dancing but the people around you will also want to know who you are and what you do. If you are more of a party animal that wants to just dance and enjoy the clubbing scene, I recommend Asia.
Avoid Europe in general, it’s not the best place for traveling alone.
America is fine but it is a different structure, increasingly Europeanized. People know each other but not with that same complicity and thrill given by the adventure of a totally unknown country.
Sad but true - alcohol unites people. Don't worry about your liver and uncork a beer as soon as you arrive, it will always be your faithful secret weapon.
Live the life of the hostel
I’m the type of person who often finds various group games or ice breaking games pretty shabby. But when traveling, don't be fooled by your usual prejudices, hostel life is different; it is great to spend evenings playing beer pong or ring of fire with strangers from all over the world rather than always going out to dance in a club.
You will have no other opportunity to experience that kind of life; you can always go to the club. And the next morning you will already have twice as many friends.
2. I don't speak the language, what do I do?
Do you think that Australians/Americans/English or French people (who are most of the travelers around you) speak any language other than their own? Surely that's not a problem and you will get away with it! And if you don't speak English, go to any Latin country and yes, maybe it will be more complicated with other travelers but you will be lucky enough to speak with the locals. Everyone can manage to spit out at least a little Spanish!
3. I am a shy person
Stick to the ball and don’t complain if you can't speak to people soberly! In any case, whether or not you will follow the precautions I have given you so far, people will come to you - everyone is curious about everyone traveling. Of course, if you always keep silent with a long face maybe after a few chats they will start to avoid you, but in this kind of travel usually a kind of community is always created, a large family where everyone is accepted.
I spent time traveling with people that I wouldn't even have looked at in my country - it's an opportunity to get to know new sides of both you and the rest of humanity. It’s reassuring to know that when you reach your maximum alcohol level they will all be and you will experience sobriety all together the morning after, with a whole new approach to socialization. So don't let shyness hold you back if you want to throw yourself into an adventure like this!
4. Will I not feel alone?
Well it depends what kind of person you are, but if you only consider the idea of traveling alone it means that you like being alone a little.
I’m like this, I am both the life of the party and the lone wolf and that’s why I love to travel alone. You can always choose when to be alone and when to be in company - and I assure you that if you stay in a hostel you’re almost never there, sometimes you will even run away to take a few strolls in solitude ...
5. Isn't it dangerous? What do I do if something happens?
Well, learn to get by! Surely you don't have to travel like an idiot - it depends where you are, but if you go around with a camera and iPhone X in plain sight in a country where that equals years of their salaries, you will find danger! And honestly you don't do it even for a little respect ... There are the same chances of being robbed (or worse - we refer to all kinds of dangers) in Riccione as in Medellín if we behave like fools; only it scares us more to be in a foreign place.
Try to live like a local, express yourself with gestures if you can't speak, smile! Humanity is the same everywhere and someone will help you if you express positivity.
I am a woman and I have traveled alone all over the world since I was 18 and never, never has been a problem. Of course, I found myself in many difficult situations, but I learned to know my limits, to mature and to learn how to live in the world. We must always be conscious, not let anything be missing from fear, but avoid what is already too stupid in the beginning.
If you don't know a country, you risk creating unpleasant situations more because you went against some custom, you have been disrespectful towards something that seemed normal to you, than for the people or the country itself. So get informed, ask and know, and always be human and respectful.
Life is a risk in its own right wherever you are and everyone should learn to cope in difficult times. Traveling alone is the best training you can do for the rest of your life.
6. At what age do you travel alone?
Usually the average of solo travelers varies from 23 to 35 years, but there are people of all age groups - traveling is a vice that never goes away!
If you’re afraid of being the youngest don't worry, I always was and surely they didn't bully me for this - we are not at school - but in fact, you have something extra!
If I traveled alone as an 18 year old woman you can do it too, really. Maybe I was particularly mature for my age, but somewhere you have to start, so throw yourself!
7. Do I have to book everything first?
ABSOLUTELY NOT! GO WITH THE FLOW! If you can afford it do not even book the return, travel as long as you can, wherever you want . So many things will change during your journey, you will change, so letting it proceed with the natural evolution of events is the best way to get the most out of it.
If that is not possible, at least try to go with the flow with trips within one country. The prices are always fairly fixed - and if you wanted to go to a place that now costs too much, you can always change later and let yourself be inspired.
Leave all the doors open, be guided by discoveries, by new travel companions, you never know if you will like a place or not, then give yourself the benefit of the doubt. Nothing will be as you imagined it when you fantasized at home, so come and see. And don't be afraid to abandon the friends you made: creating a group on the road is beautiful but you are there to experiment, to discover yourself, so do not be held back by people or by those ephemeral affections. An opportunity like this won't come again soon!
In short, traveling alone is beautiful, every destination, every move is a thrill in its own right; it is doubt, anxiety and the joy of getting somewhere. It’s a life lesson to learn how to get away, to get to know each other out of your shell, to say and do those things that you would not have felt at home at home. It is a journey, in all respects. So backpacker and launch yourself!
These are the most frequent questions I have been asked, but if you have any other doubts contact me through our address book or post it in the comments.