So this mini Eurotrip that lasted 26 days took me to 6 countries and 9 cities. It was the longest time I had travelled solo. I’ve always loved travelling solo, getting up when you want, going to places you want to go to without waiting for anyone else, eating out at restaurants and not having to share your food. Haha. Sharing is caring guys, but only sometimes and the exception is with food. I was amazed at how many people were shocked that I had taken off by myself.
I’m not going to lie it’s challenging travelling solo, but I also think there is a bigger challenge when you’re a solo female traveller. I feel like we have to be more alert and watch what we do more than men. Before heading to Paris I read a blog post from a brilliant photographer Rebecca, who talks about saftey for female travellers. And I think it's important to educate yourself before you go to a destination, just so you know what to expect. She mentioned that you shouldn’t smile at men on metro's, because they may take it as an invitation. Something as simple as a smile, can put you in a situation you don’t want to be. So my first piece of advice before we get into the pro & cons is do your research guys! Get familiar with where you are going and what you need to be aware of!
But in saying that it’s one of the best experiences you will embark on in your life, you will become independent and street smart. You will go outside your comfort zone, just by being there alone I think is a huge step outside that zone. You will have dinner alone, and I'm here to tell you it's not as bad as you think it is, trust me!
Now lets get cracking.
There is a possibility that you will be cat-called, whistled at, have men start conversations with you when you're clearly not here for it. I ignore it. It’s just what it’s like, but it can at times get annoying especially when they press you for your name, your nationality and the rest. Buddy, not today. You may be asked if you're here alone. Lie. I usually go with no, I'm waiting for a friend, she's just looking in that shop. But if you ignore them long enough they'll get tired and walk off.
At times it does get lonely, just in the sense that sometimes, it would be nice to share a moment with someone, or stay out late, but as a solo traveller, I’m back in my apartment before the sun goes down, 90% of the time. Unless I’m hungry and I go up the road to get takeaway. But technology these days makes you feel like you’re connected all the time, unless you're like me and use up all your data. (lets just say I'm not looking forward to next months bill). So I called/video chatted family/friends, it'll make it feel less lonely and it's amazing how much better you feel after interacting with someone like that.
So I brought a suitcase with me on this trip. A decent one, haha. Firstly, I learnt I probably didn’t need to pack as much as I did because I’m a repeat wearer, but most girls will agree with me, we need an outfit for every possible weather situation, and that top you haven’t worn in two months, yeah it’s coming too. Haha. Try and avoid that. Because it’s hard pulling your luggage around when it weighs close to 25KG and one of the wheels is barely holding on. Struggle street! But it survived, which I didn’t expect because of the cobble stoned streets and Venice with its bridges and stairs. Talk about a mission. But I’ve learnt my lesson. I think. Moral to the story, either pack lighter and smaller or have a bloody good, versatile suitcase.
No one to rely on
It's just you buddy! This is only for things like if you have a flight to catch and you almost miss it because you slept through your alarm.
Otherwise, you don’t need anyone because you’re a solo, strong, independent traveller, OWN IT. Not a lot of people could do what you’re doing or about to do.
So when you're travelling with someone else, it's easy to manage your belongings. They hold something while you take photos, or while you get something out of your bag. It's a bit of a challenge at times when you need to get something out of your bag, but you're in a crowd and making sure you have an eye on your camera and your phone. It can get a bit manic. Which is why I always had my camera around my neck because you never know when you'll have to capture a moment. Then I would go somewhere where there are less crowds, and get what ever you need out of your backpack. You can definitely manage it, I did but it would be nice to have someone hold some stuff every now and again.
This will always happen. On this particular trip I stayed at a hostel for the very first time and I was really nervous about it. Will it be safe? Will it be ok? You know what, it sure was. I stayed in all female dorms, which I would recommend if you’re a bit iffy about the whole situation. And I felt completely safe, they had lockers, your stuff will be fine and you meet people. I even met a few Australians, it's always nice to connect with people from home.
Meet new people
Now as a solo traveller I’m a lot more reserved, because I have trust issues, it’s just how I am. But you will meet new people, like if you climb towers and you get to the top with a group who’s struggling to breathe as much as you, you start a convo. Or if you stay in a hostel you’re bound to meet new people, and it’s awesome to network, hang out with and talk to people you normally wouldn’t. You learn so much from them and vice versa.
You will discover new places
That will take your breath away. Literally. I can’t put into words how amazing this is! When you climb a tower that overlooks a city, or go down a street you weren’t intending to and stumble on something beautiful. Make sure you’re open when traveling. Spend your time getting lost, go to local restaurants. Really immerse yourself in the culture/destination. I can guarantee you it’s worth it.
You will learn to think for yourself and rely on yourself. I know this may sound stupid to some but you find out who you are, what you love. Your passions. All of it. You really do. You learn to make decisions for yourself, and that's huge because at the moment you're reading the blog of a very indecisive person.
You will find strength in yourself that you never knew you had. You will face challenges, but you'll get up and keep going. I had days (like we all do) when things just weren't going right. You'll get frustrated and wonder what the fuck you're doing, but you do it, and you keep going. When I had moments like that I would stop, and think to myself you're on an adventure of a lifetime, you've got this. It's all going to be ok. Because sometimes we need to hear it, and it's the strength we find in ourselves that will help us get through moments like that. P.s it's also okay to skype home and be vulnerable, because sometimes we need help to find that strength. Like I called my parents, and I can't tell you how much better I felt, they reminded me of how strong I was. Sometimes we need reminding. So if you're reading this, you have an incredible amount of strength in you, believe it and go out there and live life, also gelato helps heal the soul (true fact! You can thank me later).
So there you have it, pro’s and cons with solo travel, like there are with many things in life. So it’s your call whether it’s for you, but from personal experience, the pro’s outweigh the cons, and it’s an amazing experience. If you take anything out of the post, take the fact that you don’t have to share your food with anyone.
I would love to hear from you! Are you thinking of going solo? Does the idea scare you? Have you been and relate to any of these?
J E S S I C A x