I’m currently travelling solo throughout Europe, three months down so far and a little over a month to go! I started in Scotland, travelled as far east as Hungary, as far south as Italy and am soon to head further North to Denmark, Sweden and Iceland! All in all I’ve had an absolutely amazing time. My trip thus far has been everything I wanted and needed it to be and I would recommend everyone to give solo travel a crack at least once in their lifetime. I’ve loved the feeling of total independence, making my own decisions and of course exploring many fascinating and beautiful countries.
In saying all this, I do want to share a few things I’ve come to realise on my adventures regarding solo travel. I’ve never been known for being a pessimist, nor for being a complete optimist. I’m simply a realist, here to do a little bit of myth busting.
Before I left, I read many articles and followed the Instagram accounts of other solo female travellers to give me an idea of what to expect and the experiences of others. Looking back at some of them now have me almost in tears of laughter at the inaccuracy. Instagram definitely makes it look more glamorous than it really is. The posts of solo travel promoting women wearing summer dresses and high heeled sandals overlooking a stunning hillside is just ridiculous. Firstly, it’s an impractical outfit. You want the type of clothes suitable for a spontaneous hike in a Czech forest or for legging it through a Hungarian metro station. I used to think wearing jeans with sneakers was a fashion atrocity, but no, it’s simply convenient, comfortable and versatile. Secondly, excluding the awkward selfies, solo travellers rarely have that many photos of themselves. Do these people bring a personal photographer on all of their adventures? How come they never capture them sleeping on the floor during long airport layovers? Or stealing toilet paper from a hostel bathrooms to blow their nose cause they’re too sick to leave the building to find a chemist? They constantly preach how great everything is but they don’t tell me what I really want to know – what to do when I’m alone in an airport with all my luggage and I need to pee (I’m yet to find an answer, just don’t get yourself into this situation).
I’m not trying to turn anyone away from solo travel by saying any of these things. I’m just trying to make it less of a slap in the face when every aspect of your trip doesn’t live up to the unrealistic expectations of a photoshopped Instagram feed. The truth is I’ve loved all aspects of my solo adventure – with every mistake came a lesson, with every conundrum came a sense of achievement when it was overcome and every disaster left me with a laugh and a great story down the track. The hardships of solo travel are all part of why we do it, it’s challenging. And between each challenge is a whole lot of fun.
One of the main things I loved about travelling solo was the amount of people that I was able to meet. Travelling by yourself makes you a lot more approachable to meet people in hostels or social environments, whereas those who travel in pairs often cling to each other rather than introducing themselves to others. I understand walking up and introducing yourself to a stranger in a hostel can sound terrifying to many people, but let me assure you that 9 times out of 10 people want you to introduce yourself. If you’re ever hoping someone will come over and say hello to you, chances are they’re waiting for you to do the same thing. Every time I forced my myself to be brave and ask someone where they were from or what their name was, something good always came out of it.
So there we are, my experience of solo travel, the good the bad and the ugly. My journey is not nearly over so you’ll here of more of my adventures soon. Happy travels!