When I first told my family that I was going backpacking around Europe for the summer on my own they were worried. This is a natural reaction from parents and who loves you and want you to be safe. The once in a blue moon horror stories on the news of solo travellers going missing, and picturing their little girl in a hostel full of strangers wasn’t so comforting. At the same time, they knew it was going to be an incredible experience, a much greater adventure than staying in our small English town. It was perfectly acceptable for a guy to go off and travel the world by themselves, but not for us girls? Being a bit stubborn, and fuelled with the inspiration and advice of my fellow travel bloggers, I headed to the airport.
An Amazing Experience
In six weeks I experienced so much. I had volunteered in Malta, hopped over to western Poland, eaten my way around Berlin, and had some challenging experiences in The Netherlands and Germany. This was finished off with the cherry on top of the cake, a magical weekend in Switzerland swimming in the beautiful Lake Lucerne.
Whilst I eased into travel with a tour of my own continent, I really fell in love with solo travel. There is something important to stress to anyone out there who’s wary of jet-setting by yourself. It actually brings forth a wealth of skills and strengths you never knew were within you.
So here we go, my top 5 reasons to try travel solo as a female (but hey, these can totally apply to you guys out there too!).
Becoming more independent
Heading off on your own with your backpack and passport is such an exciting feeling, picturing all of the exciting adventures ahead. When you travel solo you suddenly become the only person you can count on to get sh*t done! From booking hostels to navigating the different transport systems and customs of each place you visit, you learn a lot about being independent (#adulting!). You feel so proud of going on an adventure by yourself and being an independent lady!
Making Friends Is So Easy
This one is particularly relevant if you plan on staying in hostels during your travels. When you’re on your own you become a magnet for other solo travellers, and to be honest, any friendly group who’ll probably invite you to join them. In your dorm, kitchen and social spaces it’s unbelievably natural how quickly you get chatting to complete strangers. You’ll hat about where you’ve been, where you’re going, your life story. I’ve never been amazing at small talk but trust me, it is strangely easy to make friends in this situation.
It’s not that you can’t meet people when you’re in a group, but you’re not as easy to approach and we naturally like to stay with the people know.
The people you’ll meet will be from all around the world, with such amazing stories and different cultures. It’s so eye-opening and you learn so much from listening to these characters.
Overcoming Obstacles & Building Confidence
With the number of planes, trains, buses, and hostels involved in travel you’re bound to have at least one hiccup. Let’s see…there was the messed up Airbnb experience (it’s a long story!), not understanding any of the delayed announcements in Poland, and the lack of Wifi in my hostel. But, being a strong independent woman, I took a deep breath and dealt with everything that came my way. Had I been back home I’d be on the phone to my dad in tears most likely! There’s something about being totally alone, knowing that right at that moment you’re the only one who can fix the situation, that you do just that, fix the situation. You feel so confident and empowered in dealing with life’s challenges head-on. This is something I carry with me every day now, knowing that I can deal with anything!
Creating your own Journey
Don’t get me wrong, of course, it’s nice to have a buddy next to you to enjoy the beautiful sunset or to share a bottle of wine, but going solo also has its strengths too. With friends etc to some degree you will always have to compromise on how you spend the day. On your own, you can wake up when you want, eat what you want, and spend as long at the museum or on the beach as YOU want. It’s a total freedom to create the ideal journey.
This doesn’t mean that you have to do everything alone. For example, you can get involved with activities at your hostel, get a group together to venture around the city or even go on an organised day trip.
Time to reflect
Leading on from the previous point, all of this time alone naturally leads to some deep contemplation. Travel makes you reflect on your life, values, where you’re heading, and who you want to become. Journalling was something that was super relaxing and comforting when away. I’d find a quiet park or beach and spend ages getting all the feelings out there! It feels healthy and refreshing to be alone with your thoughts and discover who you are.
So there you have it, my top five reasons to travel solo, especially you fabulous ladies out there! Let me know in the comments your own thoughts on solo travel!