An honest piece about traveling solo and why I think everybody should try it at least once!...
Earlier this week I attended the World Travel Market where I was chatting to a friend about solo travel and it really got me thinking. My friend said to me 'Hayley, you're so brave to travel alone, I couldn't do it', and so it got me thinking, why not?
Now don't get me wrong I understand that there are so many factors that could effect this answer, from being a nervous traveller, to finances, children, being a people person and so on, and why I am absolutely not dismissing any of those options, I really do believe that solo travel is something that everyone should experience, once in their life.
For me, I love it. I love waking up when I want to and spending the day wandering around a museum, or discovering a new coffee shop to read my book in, I love the liberating feeling of being able to 'do you' without anyone there to say otherwise. My first ever solo trip was a just a short two day trip to Paris, followed by a six day visit to NYC.
I'm currently planning a 3-4 week trip early next year to Singapore, Bali, Hong Kong and potentially the Philippines too, I'm itching to get back to exploring on my own and honestly couldn't recommend the experience anymore. I always find that after I've travelled alone, I'm always so proud of myself - there's something inside of me that's like 'yes babes, you totally nailed that trip, and you did it all by yourself!'.
I wanted to share some tips on how to get into solo travelling if it's something you're weary of or if you've never done it before...
1.) Stepping out of your comfort zone isn't easy - but it's worth it: To most people I know that biting the bullet and traveling alone is a big deal, the first trip I ever took to Paris I was super chilled out about and all like YAY can't wait for a couple of days exploring... until I got on the Eurostar and was like OMG UR GOING TO PARIS ALONE WHAT HAVE U DONE?!
I didn't have any plans and that's how I wanted it to be, but I want to reassure you that the 'fear' or last minute panic is perfectly normal, embrace it and pursue with your adventure because it will be the best thing you ever do. Promise!
2.) Trust your instinct: As a woman I want to break down the stigma that travelling alone is unsafe and that's going to be one of my main focuses for 2018, with that being said, I wouldn't ever advise anyone to do anything that the didn't feel was right. I'm a firm believer of gut instinct, sometimes we can't explain a feeling but we just know it's there and I would say always listen to your gut instinct, especially when travelling alone! If there's something that doesn't feel right, walk away or opt out.
3.) Plan as little or as much as you want to: Both of my trips I didn't have anything planned other than where I was staying, on my first day in NYC it snowed like crazy so I went out to grab some yummy lunch, built a fort in my room and just caught up on some work and made a rough plan of what I wanted to do/see/areas I wanted to cover. Each day I would group up activities/places in similar areas and just wander from each place discovering new haunts - everyone travels differently and some people love to be organised - travel best how works for you!
4.) Know that everyone travels differently: I think this point is super important to remember, everyone travels differently and looks to achieve something different from their trips. You might want to take a solo trip and just book a 10 day beach holiday to relax and refresh, you might want to spend 3 months exploring Asia with a backpack, or you might want to take a city break for 3 nights. It doesn't make your travels any less valued, or yourself any less a 'traveller' because you didn't do it how everyone else does. Book the trip that is most suited to you and have the time of your life!
5.) Don't be afraid to be by yourself: Again whilst at WTM last week I was chatting to a couple of lovely guys about the theatre, I was telling them how I went to the cinema and to see a show on broadway on my own whilst in NYC, it was the first time I'd ever done either and I absolutely loved it! One guy completely agreed with me and loved going to the theatre alone, but the other guy said he just couldn't do it, and that the thought of eating alone in a restaurant terrifies him.
My advice? Take a good book and don't take any notice of you're surroundings if you're conscious that people might be watching, you'll soon forget everyone around you and start to enjoy yourself!
6.) Take the plunge: Whether it's talking to someone in a bar, asking for directions or someone to take a picture for you, it is scary at first but once you've done it the first time, it will become so natural. I was having dinner one night and overheard a lovely couple from the UK planning their itinerary for the next day, I was flying home the next day but had a city pass that would enable me to lots of attractions that I didn't get time to visit. I asked them if they wanted the book and they were so grateful, we ended up chatting for nearly an hour and whilst I was scared to approach them at first, they were super lovely I felt silly for being afraid!
7.) Seize the moment: There was a picture perfect moment on the Brooklyn bridge where I was too scared to ask anyone to take a snap for me, but then I thought no, I'm not going to let this opportunity pass me by because it's not likely I'll come back, I plucked up the courage to ask a stranger who was more than happy to help - I absolutely LOVED the picture and it sits on my desk to this day! SEIZE THE MOMENT! <3
Have you travelled solo before? Is it something you enjoyed/would recommend to others? Do you have any tips on solo travelling? I'd love to know!
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