While it’s great to share your travel experiences together with your friends, your partner or family, it can also be very special to do your own solo trip. Traveling alone at least once in my life was on my bucket list for a while, so this summer I thought it was time to finally do it. Not only because I already wanted to do this for a long time, but also because I wanted to know how it is to be on your own before I would made the final step to do this big Asia trip alone, which I talk about for years now. Anyway, this summer I traveled to Seville in Spain for a midweek alone and because of that trip it was all clear to me: I really should do this Asia trip. So because of the Seville trip, my Asia plans got way more serious than before. My plans for now are to go to Asia in January 2020, so that it will take a little longer than a year, but enough time for me to save enough money for this trip (the trip it self, the additional costs and especially my ongoing costs). From this you can conclude that my first time traveling alone was a success and that’s why I’m writing this article. I really enjoyed my first time alone abroad and I’d like to do this more often when I have the chance.
So why did I enjoyed traveling alone so much and why do I think you should try this at least once?
- There’s nothing wrong with it. I have a relationship, but I don’t mind doing things alone and I don’t see what’s the problem with that. When you do things alone, much people can have their prejudices about it. Especially when you say you’re going alone on a holiday. ‘Don’t you have any friends who can join you? Alone? Isn’t that boring? Shouldn’t you go with your boyfriend? Or did you broke up with your boyfriend?’ Things like that. But some people also thought it was cool of me. Anyway, there’s nothing wrong or weird with doing things alone, not even when you’re single, when you’re in a relationship, when you have a lot of friends or when you’re an introvert. Nothing wrong or weird with it at all, remember this! I enjoy my me-time just as much when I’m with someone else. Sometimes you want to do things there’s no one else available or you just feel like it that you want to be alone. Should that stop you from doing it? Defiantly no! The only thing I don’t dare is to go to a cinema alone. I don’t really know why, maybe because I’m scared to jump into someone I know and that it would be awkward, because much people find it weird when you go to a cinema alone. But even that doesn’t have to stop you.
- You’ll meet more people or locals. It’s doesn’t mean you’re always alone, when you’re traveling solo. Especially when you’re backpacking and staying in a hostel, you’ll meet new people. I spent my days in Seville in a hotel, but when I’m going to Asia I’ll stay in hostels. But what I noticed in Seville, is that when people notice that you’re alone they approach you more than when you’re with your travel partner. As a solo traveler you look more approachable and with a travel buddy people might don’t want to impose you as an outsider. When I was at the airport, the saleswomen started to talk with me, or when I was in the bus I had some conversations with a few Dutch students who were going to do a minor in Seville. I also did an excursion and in the bus towards that excursion I also met a family from the USA. When I later after the excursion I bumped into them it’s nice to see each other again. Also at some point you do need to turn to the locals, because you can’t find a product that you want in the supermarket, you can’t find your train or you want someone to take a photo of you. In this way you can start a small conversation.
- It gives you freedom. I often visit cities like Amsterdam of Rotterdam, to go to a museum or to do some shopping. It’s great because you can do whatever you want whenever you want. You don’t have to deal with others. It gives you a lot of freedom. If you want to stay a bit longer in the museum, you don’t have to worry about that friend who’s already feeling bored. For my example, when I’m somewhere, like Rotterdam, I’d like to wander around and take some photos from the buildings or streets that I see. When I’m with someone else I can’t always stop to take a photo from what I see, or I have to hurry to take my photo, which doesn’t always turns out to be the photo that I had in mind. When I’m alone I can take as much time as I need to get my perfect photo. I enjoyed my freedom in Seville and it was great to do things in my own routine. I stopped so many times to take photos. I also think I needed way more time in Seville. I was never bored. I always walked around or did some activities, at night I sometimes wandered around to make special evening photos. After that I went back to the hotel, went swimming in the hotel swimming pool, I took a bath or shower, I decided what to do for the next day, I read something or I watched movies or TV series, I did a face mask and I edited my travel photos. I even had a few portrait photoshoots right before I went on holiday, so I thought: ‘Well, I’m alone in the hotel, so I’ll have time to edit them. Or I can start with my Seville video or write some blogs’. Surprisingly I just didn’t have the time for that! I enjoyed myself to much I guess.
- You can change your plans and make your own decisions. What I liked the most of my first solo trip was to be able to follow my own day schedule, or abruptly change that schedule because I had other ideas. Also when you’re in a group everyone needs to agree with changing the schedule. When you’re solo you decide it and you move on. I also decided to visit Cordoba, another city in Spain, while I was in Seville for a short time. I know that if I were with some one in Seville, they probably wouldn’t wanted to do that and wanted to spend all the time we had in Seville since we wouldn’t be there for a long time. But I was so happy I could make this decision and I really enjoyed my day trip to Cordoba. It was one the highlights of this trip.
- You have to get out of your comfort zone. You defiantly need to step out of your comfort zone. First I didn’t thought it was scary to step into that airplane alone. But the night before my nerves started. I had no choice than to step into that plane. When I landed I was so proud that I did it. After that I needed to find the bus to city centre and find the hotel all by myself. Normally I depend on others. So that was another thing. But the biggest thing for me was having diner in a restaurant alone. When people asked me if I wasn’t scared to be on my own, I said: ‘No, but the only thing that scares me is have dinner alone in a restaurant.’ For my first dinner I could have gone to the McDonalds, because that was really close to my hotel. I choose not to. The entire trip I didn’t choose for the ‘easy food’, no McDonalds or Burger King. I had to challenge myself: go to a restaurant. In Spain they eat later, so when I ate around 7 P.M. it wasn’t crowded. My first dinner alone, there was one big family. First they looked at me and when they noticed I didn’t care, they didn’t look anymore. I enjoyed myself, with a glass of wine and my ereader till my food was there. After all, it wasn’t that bad to eat alone. But I have to admit: it’s not my favourite part of traveling alone.
- You learn from mistakes. Being alone isn’t always nice and you might not always make the best choice. When you’re in a group you want everyone to enjoy it. When there’s been made a mistake (just an example: you missed your train, but you have to wait for 2 hours for the next train or an activity turns out to be really disappointing) it can cause guilt but also conflicts or maybe fights. When you’re alone and you made a mistake, you’re the only one who has to deal with it. You don’t have to be afraid that you ruined someone else’s holiday. Not every choice have to work out, it can be very instructive.
- You’re in control of the finances. You decide where you’re money goes. If you don’t want to spend much money on activities, by doing much free activities it’s your choice. Or if you have to decide where te eat, you don’t have to go that more expansive restaurant because it might have better food. You don’t have to argue with others what the choice will be. You’re the one that’s making all the decisions.
- It makes you independent. When there was a problem or we needed to arrange something on holiday, I always wanted to let Sander fix it. When you travel solo, you’re the one that has to fix everything. There’s no one else, you’re the one that needs to do it!! I needed to find my way to the hotel on my own, so if I really had got lost I needed the find my way out of it. I didn’t got lost at the end, but my internet just stopped working. So I couldn’t use Google Maps. I stayed calm and I tried to remember the exact route and looked for some landmarks. It worked and without having to ask for help (and internet), I found my hotel. I also got a call from an excursion that I’ve booked. They told me I was the only English person in the group, the others were Spanish. They would call me back for more information, but they didn’t. So I was the one who needed to do the call (in English of course and I really, really hate calling people I don’t know or companies). After all, when you’ve fixed the problems on your own, you don’t only feel more independent but also more confident, which leads to my next point.
- Traveling alone gives you more confidence. It really does. Like I mentioned, I had to fix my own problems or mistakes. I found solutions for that on my own, I always stayed calm (in a group I probably would’ve been way more stressed) and I got out of my comfort zone, like the restaurant thing. I wanted to do my short Seville trip to explore how I would react when I had to take care of everything by myself and if I wouldn’t get bored. It all turned out fine. I did it. So yes, I can say that I can be proud of myself and that I can handle it. This is what I wanted to know before I made my final decision to go to Asia and now I know I really should do this trip. I know that Asia will be much harder, heavier, crazier and totally different. I’m aware of the fact that you can’t compare this shirt trip in Europe, because of the culture differences, a different lifestyle and the longer period of being away. But now I know I can do this, and even when it turns out I can’t, it’s something I’ll learn from and still be proud of myself that I’ve tried it.
- It can be very eye-opening. Even if I just did a solo trip of five days for now, you can learn so much about yourself. Even if you’re just away for three days, five weeks, three months, a half year, longer than a year etc. etc., you’ll learn something about yourself. I learned how I react on my own, I surprised myself on the social part for example, but I also learned in five days where I should work on. When you’re doing a solo travel trip you have to face yourself, who you are or what you want. Not only the positive things, also the negative ones. When you’re with friends you learn about your bund and you probably have fun and memories that you can share. When you’re alone you get closer to yourself, which might be helpful when you must go on in the ‘real life’, back from traveling.
- Use a tripod for photos. This is the very least important point, but it might be helpful for others who keep wandering about: ‘but what about a photo of myself?’ It won’t be a problem. When you’re like me, you obviously want a photo of yourself with a beautiful background for the memory and something to have to look back for later. Normally your travel buddy will make that photo of you, but how do you do this now? As a photographer I bring my tripod with me and than I can use the self-timer on my camera. You can also use a selfie stick but that’s not always ideal. But you also have a voice, so you can ask people kindly if they can make a photo of you. In this way you also connect with people and start a small conversation.
If you’re not convinced yet about a solo trip, maybe its not in for you. I must say if you know it’s not in your nature to be alone, you might shouldn’t do this. But when you’re getting more excited to travel alone, or it’s also on your bucket list, do it!! Absolutely do it! Don’t mind what other people think. I defiantly don’t regret it. I think it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made so far and it was one of my favourite holidays for sure! Try it once! You might not realise it, but some me-time can be very good for you. Maybe when you’ve tried this once, you might be surprised to find yourself buying another single ticket! Always follow your dreams!