Last Updated on July 17, 2019 by Christine Kaaloa
What are your challenges of solo travel?
Traveling alone is never what people think it’s like. The benefits far outweigh the cons and you’ll find loneliness is not an incurable disease which you’ll be cursed with. People think that with solo travel you’ll not make friends to share special moments with or you’ll be eating alone. If it really were so bad, I highly doubt I’d keep doing it (I’ve been traveling for over 8 years now…)
When you put yourself proactively out there to make resource of your surroundings and fellow travelers, you have an entire hostel with travelers to choose from and locals to ask directions and tips from! I’ve even shared transportation and tours with travelers I met in transit like the bus or van to a destination. My first accidental solo trip to India was absolutely unplanned (can you get any terrifying than that?) but I learned valuable crash course lessons which made that car crash of a solo trip, a blazing success! My second (intentional) solo trip to Thailand had ups and downs but more valuable solo secrets were learned.
If you think solo travel can be difficult, you’re right. Solo travel has its obvious challenges. But the things that travelers think will be challenging about solo travel, aren’t as challenging as the things people never think of! I’m going to let you in on what I think are!
Read Is solo travel easy?
Top 5 toughest challenges of solo travel
If you’re reading this now, you’re likely new to solo travel and wondering if it’s up your avenue. You probably have doubts, concerns, fears and worries. You might have What-If fears about being scammed, raped, mugged or attacked (If you are a newbie to solo travel and travel safety, read my tips here. They’re very down to earth and practical.). You might worry about how you’ll eat alone at a restaurant. You’re wondering if solo travel is lonely or if you will make friends traveling alone… If you’re concerned about any of the above, click on the links for myth-busting solo travel tips.
Those are not a solo traveler’s worst enemy. As a female solo traveler going on 9 years, these are what I think the real enemies are …
1. Booking your flight
The first step of planning your solo trip is the most challenging part of solo travel. Much of the time, this is because most travelers are in the “what if” mode, fearing the unknown. They begin to imagine all the horrible possibilities that they wonder if they can handle. Ultimately, they begin to doubt their ability to conquer their hypothetical situations.
Good news: Anxiety lessens the moment you book your flight. The tangible reality makes it easier to digest. After booking your flight, the rest is smoother sailing as you’re now thrown into planning and securing your itinerary. This is where you engineer your itinerary to prevent and find solutions for some of those hypothetical situations. There’s no certain way to psyche yourself out– you just have to leap in blind faith and accept that what you encounter, you’ll find a way to handle somehow. Know you’ll always be able to find someone to help you out if in a bind.
2. Making decisions by yourself
What do you feel like doing or eating? Should you go to the museum first or the hike? Take this tour agency or go with the other one? A lot of times, you’ll find you just don’t know what you want. Even if it’s a decision of where to travel to next! That’s because there’s no partner to place parameters on your decisions, help you narrow down a choice or to bounce ideas off of.
Solo travel forces you to get to know yourself better than you did before and to rely on your resourcefulness. It also forces you to create your own happiness,make decisions, but once you start doing so, you’ll find decisions are something you get better at. Solo travel can feel like a crash course in advanced travel, because it is. You’re have to make every decision from great to small, getting around to distinguishing truth from scam.. on your own. Solo travel pushes you towards intensive decision-making and finding your own resources. If you’re not used to making decisions on your own, this aspect of solo travel is likely to overwhelm.
3. Paying Single Supplement Fees
Sometimes, it’s just cheaper to travel as two. With a parter, you can split the cost of a twin bed hotel room, a taxi and you don’t have worry about single supplement fees on tours, cruises, excursions or where they might apply. Traveling with others and joining budgets might also enable upgrades in hotel rooms, transportation or the ability to sample more foods during meals.
However, I’ve also seen this idea work against some travelers. You could choose a partner with extravagant tastes and habits and they could run up the bill for both of you.
4. No one to take your photo
I always used to look at travelers with partners envying the fact they always had someone to take their photo. It forced me to master my own selfie. Thanks to my iPhone 5C mobile camera and mirrorless cameras with flip out screens like my Canon G7X or Canon 70D, my envy is no longer as great. With the right camera tool, a taking a selfie is much easier.
5. Watching your luggage when you have to go to the toilet
Having someone to watch our luggage when we have to go to the toilet is something that is has been a thorn in the side of solo travelers. Thus, carryon luggage is best for solo travelers. I take my Eagle Creek carryon convertible backpack (Read my review). It helps me to pack light and maneuver awkward or difficult situations like this one.
There been times I have had to take my bag in the stall with me. There have been times that I have left it outside my stall with fingers crossed that no one was going to run away with it. If I am in a public restroom where there’s a lot of people in line, I feel a lot easier leaving my bag outside my stall, because people see you go in the stall and leave your bag outside. They know you own it and anyone who runs off with it is an obvious thief to those waiting in line.
Although there is a travel rule of not leaving your bags unattended, especially if you’re in the airport, sometimes there’s you just really have no choice. There’s also been times I’ve asked strangers, like either mothers with children, to watch my bag.
What are your top 5 toughest challenges of solo travel?
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