Google ‘female solo travel’ and the results focus heavily on the supposed dangers and unimaginative lists of destinations ‘suitable’ for female solo travelers. Friends often tell me how brave I am and ask do I not get lonely travelling on my own? I’ve been travelling solo for over 20 years and I’ve found the realities of solo travel are often a lot more mundane.
1. You have to make all the decisions by yourself
One of the best things about travelling solo is being able to go where you want when you went. You don’t have to worry about what your partner would like or whether you are inconveniencing your friends by dragging them up a volcano at 4 in the morning.
Conversely, this freedom can sometimes get tiring. In any long trip I’ve been on there has been times when I’ve been worn out and would love if somebody was there to suggest what to do the next. Sometimes two heads are better than one.
2. It’s easier to meet people
A lot of people think the worst part of travelling solo will be loneliness. I’ve rarely felt lonely when travelling on my own. I actually think it’s easier to meet locals and fellow travelers. People are far more open to talking to solo travelers and local people are often curious as to why you are alone. I’ve met some great people on my travels.
3. There is nobody to mind your bags
Travelling solo means you have nobody to look after your luggage when you are on the move. This can be a real pain especially when you need to go to the toilet. I had a rather comically situation in Cancun bus station. I hauled my backpack and smaller daypack up a flight of stairs only to discover that there was a full height turnstile gate to enter the bathroom. My backpack wouldn’t fit through and I was stuck. Fortunately, a friendly toilet attendant saw my dilemma and offered to mind it for me.
4. There is nobody to look after you if you get sick
When I was in El Salvador on my 3-month trip through Central America I ended up getting really ill. I was in the small town Suchitoto staying in a very basic guesthouse. After an entire night of vomiting and diarrhea I felt as weak as a kitten and could barely move. Being sick is never nice but being in a foreign country on my own made it even harder. I definitely could have done with someone to hold my hand and keep me company.
5. You never know who is going to sit beside you on public transport
Every time you make a journey on your own you never know who is going to end up sitting beside you. This can be a bit stressful. So far, I’ve been fortunate enough not to have had any really bad seat mates. It can also be a good way to get chatting to fellow travelers or locals.
6. You are more in tune with your surroundings
People often talk about the supposed dangers of solo travel especially for women. I actually find that when I’m travelling on my own I’m usually more aware of what’s going on around me. I’m more attentive and less distracted then if I was with someone. Sometimes I get the feeling it might actually be safer to be on your own!
7. You have to ask strangers to take your photo
Ok we live a selfie obsessed world but sometimes you just want a regular photo of yourself standing in front of that tourist attraction you’ve spent hours getting to. Although I’ve never really had any trouble finding someone willing to take my photo, the results aren’t always the best.
8. There is nobody to tell you have chocolate Croissant on your face!
When I visited the Mitad del Mondo park just outside Quito in Ecuador I took a selfie in front of the monument. It wasn’t until later when I looked at the photos I realized a had a piece of chocolate croissant on my face!
Are you a solo traveller? What are you experiences of being on the road?