Get ready for your solo trip!
Travelling solo is for many still a scary concept. However, the benefits to travelling by yourself are numerous. You make your own plans, eat whatever you want, stay longer or leave sooner, talk to the people you like, etc.
But there is more. Travelling solo can have a positive impact on your personality as well. You can grow as a person, learn more about yourself and return a happier person. Curious how you can achieve all of this? Benedikt Benediktsson is an experienced solo traveller and has a lot of answers and even more suggestions. You find them all right here!
Come talk to us about your solo travel plans!
The main advantages of solo travel
There are a whole lot of reasons why you should travel solo at least once in your life. In our talk Benedikt touched upon a few. Here is a small overview:
- The Freedom
First and foremost, travelling alone means having the ultimate freedom to do whatever you want (within the boundaries of the law of course). Who has never had an argument with his/her travelling partner because you have different opinions on how to fill in your travel itinerary? Travelling solo means doing whatever you want, whether you want to plan everything out or set out spontaneously.
- Personal Growth
'Go find yourself', we have all heard the cliché, but how can you actually do it? We should rephrase the statement from 'go find yourself' to 'go discover your independence' because that is what you are actually doing. The feeling of accomplishment derived from succesfully completing your first solo trip is hard to match. You will discover how you behave and react in unpredictable situations abroad and your confidence will get a definite boost!
- Solo travel is ALWAYS an adventure
No matter what you do on a solo trip, it will feel adventurous. You step out your comfort zone, travel to a place you maybe have never been before, meet new people that will leave lasting memories, and so much more. Things that would never happen within the same confines of your home happen on a daily basis when you decide to travel solo.
Does that mean that everything is roses when you travel solo? No of course not, we won't lie, these things might happen as well when you travel solo:
- You might feel lonely at times when you cannot find likeminded people for a while
- Some things, such as activities or hotel rooms can be more expensive for solo travelers
- You have to say goodbye a lot. Meeting people is nice, saying goodbye to your new friends is often not that nice.
Solo Travel is Good for You(r Soul)
We talked about personal growth but because this is such a broad concept, so broad it can seem empty, people often ridicule this. Here are some specific examples of how solo travel can change you as a person.
- Get in touch with different nationalities: meeting people from different parts of the world will give you a taste of different mindsets, ways of thinking about life, etc. It will also let you think more about the place you call home and how life is there compared to the life of your fellow travellers.
- Reflect on yourself: When travelling by yourself you really find answers to questions such as 'What do I really like to do?', 'What type of people do I like to hang out with?', 'In which atmosphere do I feel really happy?' and so on. The answers to these questions will stick in your mind even when you get back.
- Social skills: As a solo traveller, people will be much more inclined to speak to you. The perfect way to test or hone your conversation skills if you are naturally shy.
Tips for New Solo Travellers
First time travelling solo? You must be a bit nervous and have a ton of questions/worries. Benedikt gave us his most important tips for first time solo travellers:
- Preparation is key: If you travel alone for the first time you do good to prepare your trip to a certain extent. Get an idea of which places you want to visit, discover if you can get there easily by train or bus. Do some research on places or areas you should avoid and make sure your plane lands during the day and not in the middle of the night.
- Sleep in a hostel: Not as luxurious but if you are travelling around solo, changes are you are on a budget. Hostels are cheap, but more importantly they are a hub for solo travellers. A lot of people sleep in hostels for one reason; to meet other people. Don't want to spend too much time alone? Sleep in a hostel and open yourself up. You'll be playing drinking games in no time.
- Don't pack your trip to the fullest: Mix some pre-planned activities with free time so you have a flexible schedule and you have time to do something impulsive with the people you just met!
- Don't store everything on your phone: A lot of bad things can happen to this tiny machine so prepare for a life without it. Make sure you have some plans or ideas written down or printed out so you are not totally lost when your phone leaves you.
Is Solo Travel Safe?
This has to be one of the most asked questions but it depends on quite a lot. Some places, cities, countries are more dangerous than others. Research is key. You can always check the foreign affairs website of your government to check the travel advice for a certain region.
Most importantly, don't put yourself into potentially dangerous situations because you are not aware of your surroundings. Know where you are and really feel the environment. Keep in mind that most people are good, only a few rotten apples will try to take advantage of you, so try to listen to their advice and don't be afraid to ask something to the locals.
Is Solo Travel Safe for Women?
Unfortunately, women always have to be a little extra careful when travelling solo. Fortunately, the travel world is aware of that and many measures have been taken to make women feel comfortable while travelling solo.
- Women only Facebook groups: Check the online travel community. There are a ton of groups that give tips for women who travel alone. They advise you on where to go, which places to avoid and much much more.
- Female hostel dorms: Don't want to sleep amongst all that testosteron (or snoring)? Many hostels have dorm rooms that are reserved for women only.
- Go on organized tours and avoid winding up in a desolate place all by yourself.
- Be cautious at night or when you go on a date or clubbing. It's stupid we still have to write this in the 21st century but it's the way it is. Always have a number on speed dial of someone that will help you asap (hostel reception, embassy, ...)
- Prepare yourself! We said it before but check where your hostel or hotel is located, check your travel times, test your right hook on a friend, ...
Where to Go as a Solo Traveller?
The ultimate question: What are the ideal locations to go solo travelling? Benedikt mentioned these:
- Australia and New Zealand: Famous with all backpackers and definitely with solo travellers. A lot of young people travel there so you will definitely meet likeminded people.
- The Balkan: Great for first timers as it is close to our European homes but still offers a whole lot of adventure. Also ideal if you want to see many countries in a short time. Balkan is also very popular amongst backpackers and solo travellers because you can go there on a small budget.
- Iceland: Benedikt's home country is one of the safest in the world and perfect for a beautiful solo trip.
- Costa Rica: The pearl of Central America is a fan favorite with adventurers and solo travellers. There is so much to do here and with a motto like Pura Vida you really can't go wrong.
- Peru: Another popular destinations among backpackers. The country adapted itself to accommodate backpackers and solo trippers everywhere. Plus, who doesn't want to see Machu Picchu
Before we decided to let Benedikt off the hook, we came up with some more questions that are asked frequently by our KILROY travellers:
How do you convice your parents to go on your first solo adventure?
- Overwhelm them with your planning! Show them you have everything completely figured out and that you are not just acting on a whim. Prove to them that you are mature enough to undertake such an awesome adventure. Also a good idea is to take them with you to the KILROY office when you want to plan your trip. This way they know in advance what you are up to. Of course you don't have to tell them exactly what you did when you eventually arrived.
I want to do my first solo Travel, should you recommend to just try for a month or have an open ticket? + Do you recommend pre-planning your whole trip or just wing it?
- This completely depends on your personality. Are you a planner or do you like to take spontaneous action? Open tickets are also a good idea if you have time to spare and are not travelling on a tight schedule.
How do you communicate when you don't speak the language?
- If you have your phone with you and you have a local sim-card you could rely on translation apps to do the trick. If not, use your hands, gestures, facial expressions and smile.
How do you plan everything while travelling? Do you use hostel computers, bring your laptop, use your phone?
- Benedikt plans big activities, such as tours, campers or camps ahead before departure. Hostels and smaller plans can be made a few days in advance during your trip. For this it could be good to use your phone as it is a compact device to gather all your reservation documents. Don't take your own laptop, it's usually just another thing to worry about plus it makes your backpack heavier.
How do you connect with other travellers
- Start in advance by looking up some online platforms where people get together to discuss their upcoming travels. Facebook is a great medium for this but there are also dedicated websites for this purpose. Next, hostels. Staying in a hostel is a great way to get in touch with others who travel alone.
Is solo travel combined with Interrail a good idea?
- Most definitely. A great idea even. Don't hesitate, just go for it.