I love to travel alone.
If you think I’m weird, please hear me out. I have a feeling that people who don’t enjoy traveling without a companion simply haven’t had enough practice. It takes a while to get comfortable spending so much time with yourself.
My first few flights alone were filled with anxiety. Slowly but surely, I began to get more comfortable with the process of flying without companions. I learnt to enjoy the meditative time standing on immigration lines (hi heathrow!) and the freedom of being silent when dead tired. These moments teach you how to rely on yourself.
It’s not just flying, but all sorts of solo travel that I enjoy. I like taking long train rides during which I can read for hours. I enjoy walking around cities getting hopelessly lost without having to think about someone else. I love spending my day doing whatever I gosh darn want to do. It generally involves walking around food halls for hours and getting lost looking for Pierre Herme.
That’s not to say that traveling alone is always pleasant. The lonely bug can bite you when you least expect it. There are moments that make you want to clench your fists and throw a tantrum. I’ll always want to hold onto my mother’s arm for dear life during take off and it would be nice to have someone to help me carry my suitcase after getting two hours of sleep in a chair that wouldn’t recline. But I do these things alone. And you know what? They’re never as bad as you anticipate.
Over the past year I’ve spent a good amount of time on the road alone and I’ve learnt a few ways of cope in difficult moments. If you’ve ever like you can’t travel without a friend or significant other by your side, I beg you to reconsider! Sure, there are some places that are better to visit in groups for basic safety, but most places are perfectly safe to visit alone. As always, use your head. Here are my top five tips to enjoy traveling without anyone weighing you down.
1. Be Open. Be open to meeting and talking to new people. Be open to getting lost. Be open to things not going according to plan. Be open to changing your plans. Be open to things you see. Be open to getting annoyed, be open to jumping up and down on the sidewalk with happiness. Be open to the new place you’re in and you’ll find that it provides you with as much company as you need or want.
2. Indulge your quirks and interests. My favorite thing about traveling alone is the freedom to do whatever I gosh darn want to. Is there a museum that only you want to go see? Visit it! Eager to wait for hours to try that hot new brunch place Go! Want to see some great architecture? Put on comfy shoes and hit the streets! When traveling alone you don’t have to worry about anyone else getting annoyed at you for looking at that painting for hours or being unable to decide whether or not you want the brioche or macaron baking mix.
3. Choose where to sleep wisely. Are you going to stay in a hotel or hostel? Are you going to stay in the center or on the outskirts? Make sure you think about the environment in which you will feel the most comfortable. I love staying in hotels alone, but I’m generally willing to stay somewhere that’s a bit on the outskirts since I’m not big on going out at night. The time of the sunset is also important, especially if you want to avoid going out after dark. The first time I stayed at a hostel alone was in London during June. The sun didn’t set until 9:30, which was roughly about the time I headed back to the hostel. I got into bed nearly straight away. It worked out perfectly.
4. Think about where to spend and where to save. Personally, I’m much less likely to go shopping on my own so I can save there and spend a bit more on nice meals. I’m also perfectly okay eating a make shift salad in a hotel room for dinner. Think about whether you want to go out for a nice dinner, buy a nice piece of clothing, or whatnot. You’ll feel better knowing in advance without having someone to hash it out with.
5. Pack lightly. There’s little worse than having to lug a huge suitcase/backpack around an unknown city by yourself, especially if you’re tired! You probably won’t need that much. Besides, you’re traveling alone without anyone to judge you for wearing the same jeans for three days straight. Think about what you really need. That doesn’t mean don’t take your laptop, just think about if you need it or if you’ll just be annoyed that you decided to bring it! Also, think about how to carry your bounty. Do you want a backpack? A rolling suitcase? A weekend bag? Figure out your favorite way to transport your stuff so you don’t think about it too much.
Do you like to travel alone? What’s the best travel advice you’ve ever received?