Today’s blog post is brought to you by a guest solo travel blogger. James travels solo for the benefits it brings, but he also understands that solo travel can be challenging at times. We hope you enjoy the post!
Challenges of Traveling on Your Own
by guest blogger | James
Solo travel is one of the most liberating experiences in the world, but it is not without its faults. Here’s a few of the issues you’ll face when on the road…
Undoubtedly you will be spending a significant amount of time on your own. Even in cities of millions, you’ll remain invisible. It remains enjoyable for a time – but even the most anti-social individuals need the occasional human interaction.
Adapting to a solitary life is key to learning about life on the road. Sit down at a bar and restaurant and eat a meal by yourself. After a couple of times it becomes far easier to deal with stares. You’ll even begin to enjoy it.
After growing up with 13 siblings, it took me years to figure out how to be on my own. Adapting to a solitary life is key to learning life on the road. Sit down at a bar and restaurant and eat a meal by yourself. After a couple of times it becomes far easier to deal with stares. You’ll even begin to enjoy it.
Everyone who travels will experience bouts of homesickness. Whether it’s just craving your favorite fast food or yearning to be with friends and family, the longing for home persists.
When you’re traveling alone, this is amplified because you have no direct connection to home. If you’re with friends or family, these feelings tend to be less intense.
To combat the nostalgia, give your folks back home a call. Personally, I satisfy the longing by indulging in the rare McDonald’s binge. Perhaps it’s shameful, but it tastes the same EVERYWHERE.
Security is a priority for every traveler. The reality of traveling alone throws the safety question right in your face. You don’t have anyone to watch your back. You can’t leave your belongings or bags anywhere. If you do run into issues – you’re entirely on your own to figure them out.
While biking the Congo Nile Trail in Rwanda, I ran into several issues with small children trying to get their hands in my panniers. One child made off with 1,000 Rwandan Francs I carelessly left in the top pocket. I’m sure their boldness came because I was unaccompanied.
Every road warrior runs into issues along the way. With no support network in many areas of the world, you may find yourself questioning every move or the exact nature of your journey.
But it’s how you handle various situations that define you as a person. You can only rely upon yourself to fix it. Lack of support builds confidence and character. As you conquer more situations, you realize how not only to support yourself but also support other travelers.
When I returned to Germany for a few days this fall I landed late in Berlin. While not having studied much German in the past 6 months, I confidently interpreted the public transit closure signs for others on the S-bahn so none of us got stuck in stations.
Even the most social of beings run into social anxiety issues – it’s easy to fall into questioning oneself in new environments. What will people think of you? Will they like you?
In my experience, most locals are keen to help and want to hear your story. Meanwhile other travelers are the most open people I have ever met. There’s no harm in throwing yourself out there. After a few times it gets much easier to just plop down at a table, introduce yourself, and start a conversation.
Some of the best experiences you will ever have will be with people whose names you only catch an hour or two into hanging out or whom you never learn at all and never see again.
The Gender Binary Kills Us All
It’s painfully apparent in the world to see many places where solo female and male travelers are treated wildly different. Men just don’t get the unwanted and unwarranted attention women receive in various countries. Many patriarchal cultures and other factors create a disadvantage for solo female travellers. It remains an unfortunate fact for solo traveling women.
Expenses fluctuate in many areas when you travel alone vs. with people. A hotel room will be more expensive, but a train ticket will remain the same. With company you may get dragged into paying for things you don’t want. You can choose exactly what you’re willing to pay for when travelling alone.
There’s a multitude of ways to cut costs as a solo traveler. Stay in hostels instead of hotels – also a way to meet other travelers. Meeting other solo travelers truly helps in slashing prices as well. You can still stay in hostels or split rooms while sharing meals both in and out.
Despite all the challenges of solo travel, many of us choose to do it for an array or reasons. It’s truly an experience everyone should try once in their life.
More about James
James is an American travel blogger currently wandering about Africa. His blog Fitzmagic Travels is dedicated to getting off the beaten path and travel for the budget savvy.