If the thought of travelling solo is discouraging you from taking a career break or gap year, think again. Lynda Daboh from STA Travel (www.statravel.co.uk) tells us that they are seeing a significant rise in solo career breakers and gappers and not all these are single: many of them are with partners who just cant get the time off, or, they are choosing to go alone to challenge and stretch themselves. Travelling solo is very popular nowadays and becoming even more so.
But this is not to ignore the fact that travelling alone brings up certain issues you dont get when travelling with other people: boredom, safety, and the fact that without someone to share things like accommodation or taxi fares, expenses can still add up.
You Dont Have to Travel Alone
If you havent got someone to travel with, it doesnt mean that you have to travel alone. The truth is that wherever you go you will probably meet other travellers along the way, and it is easy to join forces and travel with someone or a group for a while, if you so wish.
You can even set this up before you go via sites like Couchsurfers (www.couchsurfers.org) or Travel Buddies (www.travelbuddies.co.uk). Good places to hook up with other travellers are the kitchens of hostels, or just check out hostel notice boards where youll usually find plenty of other people looking for travelling companions.
And, the beauty of this arrangement, is that it doesnt have to be permanent: if you realise that youre not suited to travelling together its much easier to extricate yourself from the arrangement - much more so that if you are travelling with a friend or partner!
Stay Safe Travelling On Your Own
Travelling in a group or with someone can be safer, yes, but you will find that travelling alone soon sharpens up your senses and intuition to make up for that. There are plenty of safety tips in our FREE Downloadable Backpackers A-Z Guide, but a handful of the most important ones would be:
- Dont arrive anywhere late at night without knowing where you are going
- Dont stand on street corners with a map looking like a tourist
- If in doubt watch what the locals are doing
- Photocopy essential documents and carry copies in different places
- Split up your money so that you are not carrying it all in one place
- Leave money and valuable items in your hotel safe rather than carry everything around with you
Save Money Travelling Solo
There is no way around it, it can be more expensive travelling alone. Double rooms are cheaper per person than single rooms, and splitting a cab is not an option when you are alone. Theres not too much you can do about this, apart from planning for it in your travel budget before you leave, and look out for hostels where you can pay per bed, dormitory style, for your nights sleep.
Those Special Moments
"You get to do what you want, on your own terms, in your own time, everyday."
Whether your train has been cancelled and youve got another four hours to wait, or youve got up in the early hours of the morning to see a spectacular sunrise, there are certain times when having someone there to share things with makes your journey a lot more interesting. And when you dont have someone there, you may be lonely.
There are a few solutions to this one. The first is a practical one: find some people to travel with, as mentioned previously. It may only take a day on an organised tour to remind you of how annoying other people can sometimes be. Alternatively, you may may decide that you need some company for a bit longer. But you can usually find it if you need it.
The second is to re-frame your experience. You might not have someone to share your paella but you also dont have someone telling you Oh man, not paella again, cant we go somewhere else? In short, you get to do what you want, on your own terms, in your own time, everyday. And that means hundreds of special moments, all the time.
In fact you may find that the most annoying thing is that youve no one to watch your backpack for you, and you end up lugging it everywhere, even into the loos. The trick here is to pack light, and use the smallest rucksack you think you can get away with. Sleep or lean on it when you are waiting around at stations and do think twice before leaving it with anyone.
On the plus side, one person travelling light can usually squeeze into a crowded bus or train - something you would never be able to do as a group or couple!