Was I nervous the first time I hopped on a plane knowing there would be no one waiting for me on the other side? A little. While I have done a fair amount of traveling in my short life, until June of 2017, I had never taken a trip completely alone before. I had spent 5 months studying abroad in Valencia, Spain. When my program ended, I was lucky enough to visit a few major cities in Europe with my mom. She came to visit me after I got out of school. After we parted ways in London, I flew to Dublin, Ireland all by my lonesome. This was a place I’ve always wanted to visit. The movie P.S. I Love You was a big influence, to be honest, as I am a giant sucker for a cheesy romance movie. It was so exciting but also terrifying- which is probably what everyone says about their first solo travel experience.
Traveling completely alone to a new country that you’ve never been to before is so different from just taking a flight by yourself to meet up with friends or family when you land. When you travel solo, you have complete freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want and no one can say anything about it. No compromises are necessary. This is why I fell in love with solo travel.
London to Dublin was a short flight; maybe a little over an hour. I got off the plane, went through customs, got my passport tatted with a little green stamp and ended up at my cute little hostel. It was a mixed dorm of six people. I met my first friend there who was an immigrant from Argentina. He was the sweetest guy! We explored the city together and got coffee. It is so funny how you set out to travel alone but end up meeting new people everywhere you go. I visited all the tourist sites; Trinity College, Temple Bar and I even went on a group trip to the Cliffs of Moher and Galway.
This solo trip to Dublin was the first time I tried a pub crawl. Pub crawls are organized events where you pay a flat rate either online or at the first pub. You receive a ticket online and get a wristband once you get to the first meeting point. The hosts take you and a group of other travelers around to fun pubs in the area. Then you can get free/discounted drinks or shots at each place. It is a lot of fun and a great way to meet new people if you’re traveling by yourself. I made friends with two super friendly girls from China. I still stalk them on Instagram because they were so cool.
Since that first solo travel trip to Dublin, I have taken off to many places by myself. I have been to Prague, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Amsterdam, San Sebastian, Barcelona and I island-hopped around Greece. Each time I have traveled on my own, I learn something new about myself or about the world. I have met amazing friends that I have stayed in contact with for years now. I have discovered a new passion and now all my goals surround my need to travel.
My next solo location is going to be Lisbon, Portugal! Southeast Asia is my main goal for next year. Solo travel really brought me out of my shell and I do not have the same fears that I use to have. When you travel alone, you really gain this new level of independence and self-confidence.
Want to travel solo? Here’s some advice for new solo travelers;
Some quick tips for people who may be planning out their solo adventure would be first, don’t over plan.
Second, go with your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t stick around to see if you’re right or not. The beauty of being alone is that you have the freedom to leave someone or a situation at any time.
Third, don’t stay in your comfort zone. I understand this kind of contradicts my second tip but hear me out. Try new things. Accept opportunities. Learn to say yes (within reason)! Return home with the best stories to tell. Stay in hostels even though it might scare you. Join a co-working space if you work on the road. Go to a Couch Surfing event and mingle. Attend a language exchange! There are plenty of people who want to practice their English with a native speaker or maybe you want to learn a new language. These are little things you could do during your solo travels to step outside your comfort zone without doing something crazy like skydiving.
There are people of all ages, shapes, sizes and genders that travel alone and you can do it too.
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