I am a keen traveller - getting to know new places is something I have always enjoyed. However, I have spent most of my life not going anywhere purely because I didn't want to go alone. I had the odd holiday here and there, either with someone I was romantically involved with or friends. The thought of flying solo to an unexplored part of the world was very scary, not to mention not very fun.
"As you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal." - Robin S. Sharma, author and inspirational speaker
Having moved to the UK from Brazil alone could have put me into the brave traveller women category, only I didn’t feel that way. Could I holiday on my own? Well, I had to start experiencing little things by myself first, like going to the cinema or a museum - got that out of the way fast, it was easy and kind of cool. However, going to a restaurant or a pub proved to be a slightly harder task. The first time I asked for a table for one at a restaurant, I was in Harringay, north London. The waiter acted surprised. In fact, he asked me twice if I was waiting for someone. Both times I replied no - it’s just me. In such a cosmopolitan city like London, I am sure he must have served other women eating on their own, or maybe not?
Anyway, the idea was to enjoy my own company, the sound of the voices in my head ( I may have had multiple conversations out loud in public - FYI), or just the complete silence. Of course, these were initiatives that didn’t require me to spend an awful amount of time alone - a couple of hours or a whole afternoon at the most. But hey it was at least a step towards something.
When you are trying to plan time away with people or someone, you have to consider that not everyone may want to do the same stuff as you. Or even worse, their idea of a holiday could be totally opposed to yours. One wants to relax by the pool and read books, the other wants to drink and hit the clubs. Always wise to check with them first before committing to anything and avoid disappointments. But if I was getting away solo, I would only have myself to please - the idea of it sounded great :) So off I went!
“The man who goes alone can start today, but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.” - Henry David Thoreau, author and poet
After one too many experiences, I have learned that travelling single is not boring but an adventure, an opportunity to focus on myself, and myself only! I have many fond memories. The beauty of it may not always be in the destination, but in the encounters, you may have with the locals or other tourists. Friendships may flourish abroad too.
So my advice is - Just do it! Because if you are going to wait for people to go places, you may end up not going anywhere. Be brave, you can do this. I promise you will not regret it.
“To travel is to take a journey into yourself.” - Danny Kaye, actor
Notes & Tips:
It’s always a good idea to research the country and area you are going to beforehand - be aware of their costumes and cultural heritage.
English is a language widely spoken, however, is a good idea to learn a few words in their local languages, such as thank you and nice to meet you, or in my case where it is a nice place to eat? (I'm a foodie!) Locals will always appreciate your effort and you will get loads of smiles in return.
Safety, safety, safety - no matter how long you are travelling for or where to, is always a good idea to leave the details of your itinerary with a trusted friend or a family member back home. Also make sure you are checking in with them on a daily basis, even if it’s to say a quick hi - you can get Wi-Fi pretty much everywhere these days. In case, you are going to be disconnected for a period of time, let them know.
Never carry around more than the necessary - a copy of your passport should be sufficient, original documents are best kept locked back at your stay. Budget well and take only the cash necessary for your daily expenditure.
Get friendly but not too friendly with the people you meet - never leave your drink unattended and drink responsibly.
Depending on your destination, check with your General Practitioner, if you need any immunization. Allow yourself at least 4 to 6 weeks before you travel to get the vaccines needed, especially the ones that require more than one dose. This should give the vaccines enough time to start working, so you are protected while travelling.
Travel light, stay safe and have fun.
Happy travels :)