I travelled solo

Letter 9

I was really excited to post about this and feel like I may have a few pearls of wisdom… if not, it may still make for an interesting read! I wanted to write about travelling solo, not ALONE, that’s a rubbish word, but travelling solo.

MY SOLO TRIP

Most of my posts are about my trip last summer because I’m not currently travelling. Also because it was a fantastic experience that I’m wondering if I’ll ever top (I hope I do). So I will begin by sharing my itinerary:

  • Athens 3 nights
  • Koroni, Peloponnese Region (volunteering) 6 weeks
  • Athens 3 nights
  • Rome 3 nights
  • Florence 5 nights
  • Venice 2 nights

You can read my posts about volunteering here:

I fell in loveI found turtle tracksI volunteered for sea turtles: all the info

And my reviews on the hostels I stayed in here:

AthensRome (B&B); Florence

 

I was 18 and fresh out of college (UK college, not uni) when I took this trip and everyone thought I was crazy to go alone. In actual fact I had never considered going with anyone else. I like my own company and wanted to do this trip for me and only me. I felt I could be selfish just this once.

However, in 2 months away, I spent very few days, even hours, completely by myself. When you travel alone you instantly meet tonnes of other travellers because they are doing exactly what you are. Even if you just say hello in your dorm room or share a drink in a hostel bar, you make friends and have great times sharing travel stories and getting to know people from all walks of life.

There was one time in Athens I remember very vaguely. The rooftop bar in the hostel I stayed at was a social hub where all the travellers go for a drink after a long day in the Greek heat site seeing. I met an Australian and a Kiwi guy in the lobby and we decided to go get a drink. When we got up there it was packed so we asked some people sat around a table if we could join them – of course we could. Around that tiny round table littered with drinks were 2 Australians, 1 Kiwi, 1 Turkish, 1 Pakistani, 2 Dutch, 1 Greek, 1 American and myself, the Brit. We all talked until the early hours of the morning about anything and everything. It was one of the best nights I’ve ever had! Of course, I never saw any of them again but I’m friends with a lot of them on facebook and the odd post of them in their home countries or at work reminds me of that evening. And I know that if I ever visit Australia, New Zealand, Turkey or any of the other countries I could drop them a message and have another grand evening getting to know them even more. That’s what you get from solo travel that you might not get if you’re in a bubble of your group of friends or a couple.

 

GOOD THINGS

As I’ve mentioned, one of the great things about travelling solo is meeting so many people! However, there are many many more perks…

  • You can do what you want, when you want. I’m the type of person that starts early, does as much as possible during the day, and then gets an early night. I’m not really into clubbing or staying up till the early hours of the morning (not every night anyway), whereas some people do. Being on your own means you can please yourself. It also means that if you don’t actually feel like doing anything one day – you don’t have to! You can wonder around for a bit, find a quiet spot and disappear into your kindle for hours on end. I love the freedom.
  • You don’t have to plan the trip around someone else. If you want to go somewhere, you can! If you want to stay somewhere longer than you had planned, no problem!
  • You can spend whatever you like. Sometimes when you travel with someone else, or a group, you’ll have very different budgets, or different ideas on what to spend it on. Eating out is a big consumer of your travel budget and this can be seriously reduced if you decide to eat in, use the hostel kitchen, make a packed lunch, etc…. Don’t get me wrong, I love food and especially trying different cuisines, but I would rather enjoy one really great meal than 3 days of eating out cheaply.
  • You get alone time! That is not a bad thing about travelling solo – trust me! If you’re with other people you can get caught up in chatting and forget to really take in your surroundings. I love to sit down by myself and just watch the world go by. Really enjoy every single second.
  • You will become confident. Even if you don’t feel it all the time whilst you’re away, you will come home with the knowledge that you did something amazing that a lot of people would never attempt!

 

TIPS FROM LOU

I’m no expert but I’d like to offer a few tips…

  • Stay in hostels. These are the travel hubs and you’ll meet tonnes of other people. I always choose to stay in a mixed bed dorm of 6-8 beds.
    • It’s a good idea to choose a hostel with breakfast included. No. 1 this saves money and gives you one less meal to think about; and No. 2 you can meet people and sit with them whilst eating.
    • Always do the free walking tour! You get to see the city with a knowledgeable guide and again you’ll meet people!
    • Say hello to everyone! Just be friendly, normally if they haven’t said hi to you, they are waiting for you to say it. Be the confident one!
  • Keep your plans flexible. Don’t tie yourself down to concrete plans and bookings.
    • Yes, have an idea where you want to go, even a list of hostels you like the look of, and feel free to check out transport options. But book when you get there or at most a couple of days in advance!
  • Don’t be worried if you don’t meet people in the first 5 minutes, or even the first day. It doesn’t always happen straight away and the amount of travellers like you will vary in different places. Just stay happy and enjoy some alone time.
  • Do something organised? On my first solo trip I volunteered in a group of 10 people and on my second (in 6 weeks!) I’ll be working at a summer camp. Doing stuff like this is a great way to go off on your own but know that you’ll have people there that you’ll get to meet and spend time with. It takes the pressure off a bit, and it’s cheaper than just travelling!
  • SAY YES! If some backpackers (like you) ask if you’re up for a trip they’re doing, or to visit an attraction, or even just for lunch, say yes! You won’t lose anything and something great could come from it!
  • Do things you really enjoy. There is no one to judge you so do whatever you want. I like to read whilst I’m away. I also like to aimlessly wander and take photos of everything. If you love something, take the opportunity whilst travelling solo to pursue it.

 

 

If you travel solo it will be the best thing you’ve ever done.

‘Solo’ travel is travelling with hundreds of others, not just yourself.

All the love,

 

From Lou

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