Travelling solo is amazing and if you read my last post: 22 REASONS TO TRAVEL SOLO, you would be ready to pack your suitcase and venture off. However, there are things about travelling solo that people don’t always share. Enjoy this post, look at it as getting you mentally prepared for your solo trip. For every problem is a solution, so after this I hope you’ll be steps closer to being ready.
YOU ARE ALONE AWAY FROM HOME
Being away from home alone could be seen as both a positive and a negative. The downside is that you are away from all your home comforts and completely out of your comfort zone.
Solution: Embrace the discomfort! Best thing you can do is make the most of being in a foreign territory and away from everything you know. Maybe even pack a little teddy, blanket or pillowcase just to give you that little sense of home.
YOU ARE LIKELY TO GET LOST
Foreign country. Foreign languages. Cars on the wrong side of the road. Different road signs. These all contribute to you getting lost while travelling solo. And do you know what? It’s okay. Sometimes when you get lost on the quest to finding one location, you end up stumbling on something so much better.
Solution: Google maps allows you download sections of the map to use offline, which comes in very handy when you do not have a data plan for the country you’re travelling in. Sometimes when you think you are lost, you aren’t really lost – you’re finding something new. Do not hesitate to ask the locals for help, pop into a shop or ask someone in uniform.
YOU WILL GET LONELY
You will get lonely and that is okay. It may be the first time you’ve spent time by yourself so you’ll definitely feel it. The positive is that you will learn to love your own company.
Solution: Keeping yourself busy is a great way to combat loneliness. It’ll distract your mind for focusing on the fact that you are alone. Another way would be to schedule calls or video chats with loved ones. I would also suggest going on tours or staying in hostels which is a great way to meet people who you spend some time with. Read books, watch videos or films and learn to enjoy your own company.
YOU MAY NOT UNDERSTAND THE LANGUAGE
Language barriers can be very difficult when you are travelling solo. Especially when you do not understand someone and they do not understand you. It can lead to you feeling frustrated and alone. It also means that you won’t be able to solve whatever it is that you are enquiring about.
Solution: Learn a couple of phrases before you get to the destination. Phrases outside of hello, goodbye, yes and no. I will be doing a post next week about what phrases you should learn, so make sure to come back to check it out. Also, keep details of where you’re going on you, so you can always show what you need. Notebook and pen works wonders, you can actually draw what you’re looking for – it works for some items, not all – haha. Google translate offers you to download a language, so you can translate offline.
YOU ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE A TARGET TO TOURIST/FOREIGNER SCAMS
Everyone has their hussle and while your abroad, sometimes you’re someones hussle. This is definitely one of the biggest downsides of travelling solo – you want to trust everyone you meet, but you have to be sceptical. Scams could be things like charging you more for your food in a restaurant, cab drivers pretending their meters are broken, fake transport tickets etc.
Solution: Always ask how much something cost. Always ask questions about a product or service that your are being offered. Do your research before travelling to a country and only ever purchase certain things from credible places, where if something does go wrong you know who to go back to. And mostly, trust you gut. If something does not feel right, chances are something is wrong. Doing research about ‘scams in ….’ is also very helpful.
YOU COULD DO SOMETHING WRONG WITHOUT EVEN KNOWING IT
This happens. When abroad, people can break rules without even knowing it; which can lead to fines or in extreme cases, imprisonment.
When I was in Sofia, I got on a bus with two bus tickets (I heard you needed one for your luggage) and I was almost fined 40 leva (£17) because I hadn’t used a hole puncher on my ticket. It was right on the window and I didn’t see it at first or anyone else use it. It caused a huge scene on the bus and luckily for me, a lovely Bulgarian lady stood in my corner and I didn’t get fined. It’s a story to tell the kids, but I could have done without it.
Solution: Do your research. One bit of advice I would give is to do some research before you go. Just Google “things I should know when travelling in …..” or “….. local laws and customs”. It’ll give you an insight to things you wouldn’t necessarily know.
I’d also say ask and mimic the locals. If they are all doing something, it is likely because you have to. For example, if they all stamp their bus ticket – do it or ask them what they are doing and why. If they are all queuing somewhere that and you don’t understand why, ask someone. Also, when in doubt who to trust, usually someone in a shop or in uniform e.g. train station employee or employee in H&M. When you’re feeling sceptical, they would be the best people to help. Also, in some countries if you ask locals they’ll expect a payment afterwards.
Watch what happened in Bulgaria here: Trouble In Bulgaria
YOU COULD RUN OUT OF MONEY
Running out of money can happen to you for different reasons for example; you’re an over spender, prices aren’t what you’ve budgeted for, money is stolen, surprise payments etc. There’s a possibility that any of the factors will effect on you when you’re travelling solo. Running out of money, being stranded and wondering where your next meal is coming from is one of the worst things that can happen to you. It takes away from all your fun and adventures because you’re worrying.
Solution: Always have contingency money. Whether you’ve agreed with a family member or friends for an emergency loan. Or you put money in another account for emergencies or you have a money card that is hidden away in your luggage for emergencies. Prices always move up and down, so even if you’ve budgeted amazingly – always have a contingency plan set up.
So yes, travelling solo is INCREDIBLE! But there are some downsides to travelling solo, however I would still say that everyone should experience solo travel at least once in their lives.