I never really thought about the concept of solo travel until I was in Italy for my job after college and my roommate brought it up. She said during our Christmas break she wanted to do some solo traveling. She wanted to see the castles in Romania. The thought of traveling solo seemed so foreign to me, considering for our job we took groups of students around Europe, and prior to that when I studied abroad, we were always traveling in groups.
However, the more I traveled, the more I read travel blogs. I was engrossed in stories of times spent abroad and kept seeing the term "solo travel" pop up. My curiosity about traveling solo began to grow and I started looking into it. After all, while I'd love to travel with my friends, it gets to a point where it becomes too difficult to coordinate schedules, budgets, and expectations.
Are you thinking about solo travel? If it excites you in just the slightest, then you should try it.
You can start easy. Start by going to a new city where you don't know anyone for a day. Have a plan with a bunch of things to do (or even no plan at all - whatever you prefer).
I'd didn't realize it at the time, but when I moved to DC for a summer job I took the first step. While I was going to meet and spend most of time with my co-workers, I didn't know anyone doing the program. I had never been to DC. I didn't know anyone at all. Taking a leap of faith to do something I've always wanted to do led to an unforgettable summer with new friendships, a rewarding job, and a city that holds a dear spot in my heart.
When I moved to Italy shortly after my summer in DC, I was the first one of our staff to arrive. Like DC, I hadn't met anyone I was working with in Italy either. I was by myself for a few days before everyone else started trickling in. Between the jet lag I was out and about, re-exploring the streets of the city I had studied abroad in two years prior. It was yet another incredible experience and something I'll remember forever.
6 ways to ease into solo travel:
- Move somewhere completely new for a job - this helps you get used to taking risks by traveling somewhere foreign to you where you don't know anyone (living with your co-workers makes the transition smoother)
- Sign up for a tour by yourself with a tour company - you'll meet others in the group and travel together
- Volunteer abroad with a group or organization
- Teach English abroad through a TEFL/TESOL/ESL company that has an orientation for other teachers in the same city you're moving to
- Go somewhere solo and meet up with friends of friends
- Do couchsurfing or air bnb to meet and stay with locals
Solo travel doesn't have to be lonely. In fact, some people tend to favor it versus going with people they already know. I've only had a full long weekend of full "solo travel" in Paris, but taking "risks" by moving to DC or to Italy by myself previously helped ease that fear. Also, Paris is a very touristy city so I knew I'd meet plenty of others traveling too (and I did!). While I haven't done a huge solo trip for a long period of time, the thought of going somewhere alone doesn't intimidate me like it used to.
I encourage you to consider traveling solo. It can be an amazing, eye-opening experience and is something I think everyone should try at least once in their lives, even if only for a few days. Getting out of your comfort zone allows you to grow, and solo travel - or easing into it like one of the ways above - will certainly do that.