Solo traveling is liberating in a lot of ways and empowering no doubt. Unsurprisingly, there are just so many articles out there that romanticize solo travel, and I have been guilty of it too (Read my Quora article on solo travel here). While I love solo traveling for the sheer amount of experiences it presents to me, I feel we need to have an open discussion about both sides to give an unbiased and complete idea of what it’s like.
So, here I am presenting you 9 things about solo traveling no one tells you about.
Going to the toilet
This is probably one of those things you don’t realize until you are in a similar situation. Ever wondered how solo travelers manage their luggage during nature calls? Oh yes, that’s right. It’s-take-your baggage-with-you-when-you-go-to-the-toilet kind of situation.
Either you trust a stranger to look after your luggage where chances are they might run away with it. Or abandon your luggage in the washroom hoping NOT to loose it. Or take everything with you to the toilet.
Either way, it’s a choice you’ll have to make when traveling solo.
It may not be budget-friendly
Most people tend to forget that if you follow the same route as traditional travels like opting for hotels or cab services, travel expenses get added up pretty quickly. Sometimes you’ll have to find better alternatives like hostels instead of hotels, public transport, shared cabs or hitchhiking instead of riding a cab, cook at home instead of eating out at a restaurant in order to save money. And some of these may take you far longer than usual which means you may have to plan accordingly.
Relying on strangers
More often than not, you might have to rely on strangers for say directions, food, stay, or other things.
People play a big role in your travels, and traveling solo doesn’t mean you are alone. You get to interact with people from different walks of life. It could be a fellow dormmate from a country you’ve never heard of or a friendly cab driver or that pesky tour guide — every step of the way becomes an exercise in trust. While there’s an upside that strangers can turn into lifelong friends, there are also people who undeniably turn the whole situation for the worse.
So, it becomes vital to trust your gut instinct and make decisions that keep you out of harm’s way. Which could be a hit or a miss.
A heartwarming instance of the kindness of strangers in this post:
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It could be scary
Imagine being stranded in an unknown city at midnight with nowhere else to go to. Or taking that early morning ride where you are the only girl on the bus? That’s the stuff nightmares are made of!
While we can take all the precautions to avoid dangerous or uncomfortable situations, sometimes it’s far beyond our control.
And as per Murphy’s law, anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
I think you need to have a level of street smartness to handle different situations thrown your way, and it’s most likely going to be scary. But once you come out from the other end of the tunnel, you’ll realize that it was worth it.
Traveling solo as an introvert ain’t easy
While meeting people with varied backgrounds may seem exciting for extroverts, it’s nerve-wracking for introverts. Introverts will have to break out of their shell to interact with people else it could get lonely. Or maybe it’s precisely that which makes it easier and faster for introverts to mingle while traveling, as opposed to the comfort of their home city.
It’s not for everyone
I’ve repeated this time and again. While solo traveling may be enriching and exciting for many, it might be mind-numbingly boring for others. Forcing everyone to go on solo traveling, is like saying all fingers of the hand should be of the same size.
It could work for some and may not work for others. That’s just how it is.
Solo traveling may not always work
I think solo traveling makes sense when you are staying in a hostel, where there is a vast network of people to interact with, or when staying with a local family. If you are going to be holed up in a hotel room, or not planning to interact with anyone, then it may get boring pretty quickly.
Too many decisions
Also, not to forget the sheer amount of decisions or choices involved when you are self-planning your trip especially solo. Even small things can get overwhelming pretty soon. Stay in hostels or with a family, eat at a local outlet, or try street food, take a cab or opt for public transport, how to do it all on a limited budget, to trust or not to trust, and so on. If you are just getting started, it could be overwhelming initially, but know that, it gets better over time.
Miss your friends or family
Solo traveling puts you right out of your comfort zone. And sometimes, while you interact with people, you might just not be able to connect with anyone around you. Which makes it all the more lonely to be in a strange location all by yourself. At this time, you are bound to miss your friends and family terribly. The trick is to not compare the connections you make on the road with what you have at home. Each interaction is going to be different, for better or for worse. And it’s best to take it in stride and see what comes your way.
Having said all that, I’d still travel solo because the experiences are SO worth it. You realize the kindness of strangers, learn to trust your gut instinct, and make lifelong connections along the way. The challenges help you build your character, and you are a better person at the end of it.
Could you related to any of these points as a solo traveler? Anything you’d like to add to this post? Let me know in the comments below.