Exploring the world solo



It puzzles me that to this day, the most asked questions I receive from people almost always have to do with my solo travels. They want to know about safety, health, where to go and more. In addition they remain curious about how I started to travel solo and why I started.


A few months ago I wrote a blog post about my personal experiences as a solo traveler https://www.stephanietaina.com/post/why-i-travel-alone


Over the years, I have had the opportunity to connect with many solo travelers, I thought I should ask a few of these experts the standard questions that I receive on a weekly basis. Now folks unlike my amateure self, these ladies/gent are the real deal, I am sure their answers will help elucidate many misconception about solo traveling way better than I could.

P.S. I met a few of these lovely humans through some of my solo trips :)


 

Rachael

Instagram @mspettiford

Penang, Malaysia

When did you first start traveling solo and where did you go?

I moved to Thailand for a TESOL course training in May 2018. The course had over 50 strangers in it so it was like a episode of Real World, living with people from all over the world. After that month we all split up and moved to our respective schools. I was placed in a small beach town by the Cambodian border where I didn’t know a soul. When you become an expat then it forces you to become comfortable walking up to people to introduce yourself. That’s what I ultimately ended up doing here and made some lifelong friends. Facebook is also a great resource, there’s so many groups dedicated to expats in other countries. I’m in one called “Blackpackers connect in Southeast Asia” and it’s been great to connect with other travelers who look like me.

When choosing solo travel destinations, what factors are important consider?

I’m not your typical traveler because I don’t think about safety right away and I’m not a fan of concrete plans. I go where my soul tells me I should go next or where a job assignment will take me. If there’s a place I’ve been thinking about and suddenly acquaintances are talking about it or visiting then I take that as a sign that’s where I should go next. I look for things I personally enjoy like beaches, music, art, nature, educational aspects, diversity of people, etc.


Do you ever get lonely or anxious on a solo trip?

Nusa Ceninigan, Indonesia

People think since I’m such an extrovert that this doesn’t happen to me but absolutely it does! There have been times I’ve been extremely lonely on a solo trip and during those times I physically have to force myself to say hello to people in the hostel. Or go on a walk. I stay in hostels or private rooms in hostels for solo trips because that’s where you meet your fellow travelers. I’ve developed some amazing friendships and have seen some surreal places that aren’t on travel guides due to my friendships made in hostels. Read reviews and try one.


How to keep yourself and valuables safe?

Coming from America to Asia then I have more worries about this in America. I walk alone at night in the middle of Bangkok, Thailand. I’ve left my whole bag out in hostels in Vietnam... I’m not suggesting to do this as there are places that are more prone to theft but it’s not a worry of mine in Asia. Buy yourself a lock and carry copy of your passport with you and lock your valuables up. Read reviews and often times cabs or tuk tuk drivers will give you warnings as you make your way in town.


What is the best place you've visited?

I have so many places!! But Penang, Malaysia comes to mind first because I’m a cat loving beach girl who loves art in strange places. Penang is FILLED with famous street arts with a focus on cats. I had no idea about this town until a fellow traveler suggested we visit and on a whim I just went. I’m so thankful I trusted her judgement! I also loved Ninh Binh, Vietnam. Just google for stunning pics and you’ll see why.


What advice do you have for first-timers?

Just do it and don’t wait for your friends or you’ll be waiting forever. You can always go back to where you came from and there’s beauty in no plans and chaos.


What has solo travel taught you?

I’m stronger than I thought and I don’t have to be perfect to be happy. Too often we let society dictate what we “should” do. Go to college, get a job, buy a house, etc.... Let’s collectively explore other routes. It’s for some people but it’s not for everyone and if you don’t try something else out, how will you know? Sometimes you find happiness in the midst of absolute chaos. When you find yourself smiling for no reason that’s when you know you’re happy.

 

Ann-Sophie

Instagram- @takemeth3re



Morocco

When did you first start traveling solo and where did you go?

I started traveling solo in 2013 during my study abroad program. My first solo trip was Barcelona and I was 19 years old. After this, I traveled solo to India, Costa Ria and Thailand!


When choosing solo travel destinations, what factors are important consider?

I always made sure the destinations was young traveler friendly. This way, I was sure I would meet other travelers and solo travelers with whom I could bond and do some activities.


Do I ever get lonely or anxious on a solo trip?

I never got lonely on a solo trip! I always enjoyed the journey. Maybe once or twice I got this "What the hell are you thinking feeling" when boarding a plane before a solo trip but it faded away as soon as I landed and started my adventure.


How to keep yourself and valuables safe?

Bassin Bleu, Haiti

I made sure I got a locker if I was staying at a hostel and never left my stuff hanging around on my bed. When I'm out, I make sure my purse is always in the front, where I can see it, never in the back. I Always double check if everything is there. I do not hangout with people I don't have a good feeling about.


What is the best place you've visited?

Impossible to pick one! But i'll go with Vietnam. That was not a solo trip though.


What advice do you have for first-timers?

Do not be paralyzed by fear. Get informed, get organized and go! Life is nothing but a daring adventure! ~~~~Here is a blog post for some encouragement: :)

https://takemeth3re.wordpress.com/2015/04/22/5-reasons-traveling-solo-as-a-young-woman-is-the-best-thing-you-can-decide-to-do/

 

Jack

Instagram- @Jackweston


Siargao Island, Philippes

When did you first start traveling solo and where did you go?

I had always wanted to travel and experience new places since I can remember. I have family both in the UK and Ireland so I’d been used to travelling back and forth since very young (sometimes alone) so was never afraid of travelling alone and on planes etc. When I took the leap to travel alone in Asia, I was in my final year of university and I had managed to successfully start an online business which allowed me to travel and work at the same time, so I decided as soon as I graduated that I would take my laptop and backpack and head to Vietnam, a place which I’d heard a lot of good things about.


When choosing solo travel destinations, what factors are important consider?

I’d already been to Thailand with a friend for 6 weeks a few years before, so I kind of knew what to expect from S.E Asia and also had many recommendations from friends and people I’d met on that trip. For me, the most important things where places which were very different to any places I have visited before, which were backed up by friend’s experiences.


Do I ever get lonely or anxious on a solo trip?

Not really, people tend to get scared by the words “Travelling Alone”, but to anyone who has ever taken the leap, they’ll know that you're never really alone. As soon as you check into a popular hostel and you’re an open person, you soon make friends and your alone trip quickly can become a group trip with people from all over the world.


How to keep yourself and valuables safe?

I’m from London so I’m street smart ;) I’m sure New Yorkers are the same


What is the best place you've visited?

Vietnam!!!


What advice do you have for first-timers?

Be open-minded. Throw any misconceptions that you have about the world and people and just live the experience openly. Say yes to every experience that comes your way and let yourself be taken but the journey which is going to unfold.


What has solo travel taught you?

Ubud, Bali Indonesia

Everyone in the world is the same, we all share the same experiences, same challenges, same desires, wants and needs. It taught me to break out of the tiny box which School teaches you about the world and realize first hand that there’s no better education that going to a new place and meeting new people.








 

Abena

Instagram- @travellingtuesdays



Accra, Ghana

When did you first start traveling solo and where did you go?

I have been flying solo since I was 11 years old as my parents sent me to boarding school in Ghana. There's a real almost addictive sense of independence that comes from travelling solo and my young self loved it. The first time I did it properly was when I traveled to Lille France alone. It was cool as I could pace myself and do things on my own speed. I did feel bored at times I must admit.


When choosing solo travel destinations, what factors are important consider?


It is really important that I know why I am going to a place. Its is to meet people, is it because I want to try something, or have been Inspired by a picture of that place; If not, then I'll just be bored. It is also important that I can navigate in English or French. I also like to feel secure in knowing other female travelers have had similar experiences.


Do I ever get lonely or anxious on a solo trip?


I actually rarely get anxious, but that's because I am a bit reckless opps :). I can feel lonely when I'm in social settings, a bar or something like that, but I'm learning to strike up convos with people. I also hate hostels where people form cliques, but that's a rare occurrence.


How to keep yourself and valuables safe?


I always travel with a padlock or two without fail. Stay conscious of my bags and my surroundings.


What is the best place you've visited?

Bangkok, Thailand

This is a really hard question- especially because a lot of solo trips don't end up as solo experiences as I make friends. I would say Manduk, Bali- a village in the northern mountains where I did stay solo the whole time. I did a 6 hour trek finding 4 different waterfalls in the rainforest, I also did a sunset walk in the rice terrace valleys. Supper refreshing!


What advice do you have for first-timers?


Go to a place you are genuinely interested in- not just because of the hype. Know yourself- This is your time to choose what you want to do!


What has solo travel taught you?


It's taught me a lot about myself, what I like and what I don't like. It's made me realize I'm more resilient than I thought and finally, no one can hold me back from my dreams.


 

Christiana

Instagram- @melanin.onthego



Lisboa, Portugal

When did you first start traveling solo and where did you go?


I first started traveling solo after college and finally had a job that allowed me some flexibility. Originally I had been teaching and had plenty of teacher friends so we would just travel together but as a consultant I traveled at odd times of the week and it was exciting to travel alone. Oftentimes I never felt alone because I knew someone or had a connection in the place I was arriving.


When choosing solo travel destinations, what factors are important consider?


When I travel solo I usually like to choose a place where it is easy to get around and things are walkable. I think about pricing and accommodations and how much do I want to pay since I am not sharing a room, I usually opt for a Airbnb. As a female traveler, I always keep a card with the location I am staying when in a foreign country so if I get lost or can't navigate my way back I can always show it to the driver.


Do I ever get lonely or anxious on a solo trip?


I have never gotten anxious but there have been times where I have felt lonely after so much time passes and the novelty of the place fades.


How to keep yourself and valuables safe?


I don't bring valuables with me, it's something I recommend. But for things likes my passport I make multiple copies, I leave some with family, in my suitcase and with the hotel desk, usually will also use the hotel safe when available. I also keep a book bag on me and will wear it on my stomach for easy access and to keep the temptation for others to look inside at bay when walking around. lol


What is the best place you've visited?

Blue Lagoon Iceland

Hard to say the best place I have visited; I don't have one. I think some places are better than others depending on the experience you are seeking but no place is better or worse.


What advice do you have for first-timers?


My advice is just do it. Make a plan, make a budget, stick to it and just go. You'll never get that time back and you're stronger than you think.

What has solo travel taught you?


1. No need to worry. Things work themselves out.

2. People are genuinely kind and deserve the benefit of the doubt.

3. Life can be whatever you make it.

4. I'm stronger than I though


P.S. reference my blog post on what solo travelers should know. I articulated myself way better there.











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