Travelling on my own has been one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences of my life. Whether you like it or not, you are forced out of your comfort zone to experience a new place and you just have to roll with the punches with whatever is in your backpack. I will confess that I have only travelled solo twice thus far (Portugal and Ecuador) but will continue this practice for as long as I can.
After a trip to Costa Rica, it had renewed my love for surfing and the ocean. What did I do? I set my intention: I was going to surf in different parts of the world. This motivation was enough to outweigh the questions and concerns that had been posed by others and myself. So, I wanted to share my answers to the 5 most common questions I have been asked about solo travel:
1. Why do you choose to travel alone vs. with friends?
Obviously because it’s awesome! I can do whatever I want, when I want. I don’t have anyone else to consider and focus on me. If I decide to stay an extra day by the beach, I can. Also, from what I’ve observed, when travel styles are different it becomes a source of conflict amongst friends and that is not something I’m willing to risk.
2. Don’t you feel lonely when you travel by yourself?
Honestly, not at all. I stay in hostels or boutique hotels where there are opportunities to meet other travellers via communal dinners, walking tours, pub crawls, day tours, etc. If you do the activities you enjoy, you tend to meet people who are like-minded. Worst case scenario, there’s always wifi to iMessage or e-mail your loved ones back home.
3. Aren’t you worried about your safety or the safety of your valuables?
Sure, we’re all worried about our safety – even at home. Just be aware and smart about your decisions. Stay in areas where there are a bunch of people, don’t leave your drink unattended, keep your bag on your lap if you’re on the bus, don’t flash around your cash or valuables, etc. Sometimes unfortunate situations happen and an item, like a camera, can go missing. Remember, it’s replaceable and people you met on the trip will likely share their photos with you (provided that you get their contact info).
4. What happens if you get injured or sick?
Be proactive. Get the necessary shots and travel insurance before you leave – it’s worth the expense. In addition, I pack my condensed version of a first aid kit and one bottle with my must have meds (advil, gravol & pepto). Anything else can be found at the pharmacy or if need be, the hospital.
5. Aren’t you concerned about the language barrier?
You can find English speakers, some areas may be more difficult but they’re present. Also, I concentrate most of my travels to Spanish speaking countries and I took it as an opportunity to start learning the language. I took Spanish classes to get my basics down, practice on DuoLingo, bring a phrasebook and use an app SpanishDict. It’s a great way to apply what I am learning.
Solo travel has brought into my life: self-confidence, perspective, independence, life-changing experiences and new friends across the globe.
Fight the fear, set your intention and experience solo travel for yourself!