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Last Updated on 23/12/2020
Travelling solo is one of the greatest opportunities you can give yourself but it’s not without its fair share of challenges. From making sacrifices to save money to kicking those muttering naysayers to the kerb, gearing up to travelling alone is a lot to process (and that’s before you’ve even set off!).
Here are some of the top challenges of solo travel. Although difficult to overcome at first, once you do you’re left with the most rewarding sense of achievement.
Saying goodbye to your loved ones is never easy
Knowing that you will be leaving your friends, family, and sometimes partners behind to enter into the unknown can be an unnerving thought. On top of that, you feel like you’ve done all the planning in the world, but it still feels like you’re woefully unprepared for what’s to come (here are some of the common planning pitfalls).
Leaving behind what you know and what you’re used to is never an easy decision to make. It isn’t for everyone and boy do those naysayers like to tell you so. Being told that they couldn’t possibly just get on a plane and go when you’re planning your first-ever solo trip isn’t the most helpful sentiment to hear.
You call the shots
Having the conviction to prove all those naysayers wrong is already half the battle. For me, embarking on a solo trip is a way to challenge them as much as it is to prove to myself that I can and will be okay. If I can make it to the other side of the world on my own then surely I will be able to be a successful adult and pay taxes on time, right?
So, it goes without saying that before you attempt solo travel for the first time there is an element of pressure to succeed. Once again, it’s that uncertainty of the unknown, and if you’ve never gone as far as the other side of the world before, you’re aware that it exists but it doesn’t feel like it does until you’re there.
You have no idea what to expect and how you’ll react to it. In short, you don’t know who you’ll be until you find yourself in that situation, which can be a daunting prospect.
As a solo traveller, by default, you have no one else but yourself to rely on which is an exceptional and liberating experience but until you can trust yourself enough to pull it off you’re left feeling more than a little apprehensive.
Embrace your nerves
In a way, those pre-travelling nerves are a crucial step in your trip preparation. It may not seem like it at the time but having that apprehension allows you to become more alert and more focused on what you need to do.
I find that it helps me to think of my pre-trip nerves as my gut instinct warming up because on the road that alertness is vital for reading situations around you and legging it if you feel unsafe.
Let’s face it, no one else is going to do it for you if you’re going solo. You need those nerves to remind you to check certain parts of your itinerary you’re unsure about, and to watch your bags like a hawk. This probably doesn’t apply to the seasoned solo travellers but for a beginner, it’s far better to feel nervous than be complacent because chances are you will be more prepared.
You get to challenge yourself
Solo travel provides you with the autonomy to embrace and create the most rewarding challenges for yourself. It gives you the chance to push yourself in ways you may never be inspired to do back home.
You might decide to test your nerves with a bungee jump or maybe set a goal to learn another language. Perhaps you might aim to work on yourself or take up a new craft. Personally, I’ve always been a bit of an introvert. Sometimes I prefer to spend the night watching Netflix in bed rather than go out and party till dawn, and it’s only increased with age!
So, my main goal when I travel solo is to find the right balance between spending time socialising with friends and taking a moment for myself to chill when it’s necessary. It’s also a great opportunity to learn the value of saying no effectively and with confidence.
As a solo traveller, you’re automatically more approachable which is in most cases an asset as you meet the most amazing people. But sometimes you need to be feisty and stick up for yourself, particularly if you feel threatened.
Being an introvert, it’s not exactly a skill which comes naturally to me so it will be good to get a bit of practice. Setting yourself a goal or a project before you go is a fun way to add a unique challenge to your solo travel experience.
The decision to go solo travelling is a liberating experience even before your departure – but it’s not without its challenges. The prospect of the unknown is daunting, and it doesn’t help when you come across naysayers eager to add an anxious comment to the mix.
By allowing yourself to trust your decision and embrace those pre-travel nerves, you’ve already proved them wrong. Solo travel provides an opportunity to take control of the unknown and to shape it to your will.
You get to decide who you want to be and where you want to go. There are plenty of challenges but once you overcome them it’s an incredibly empowering feeling.