Solo Traveling, while not a recent concept, has found acceptability only recently. Even more so for women. When I was in my twenties, the very idea of a girl solo traveling would have thrown parents into a fit. Back then, even work related travel for a young girl meant having company. It was only after I was married and a mother of a toddler that my solo traveling trips began. They were mostly work related.
The best part was all these trips were long and allowed me to club a weekend here and there and go exploring. Some of my fondest travel memories and best travel stories come from these trips. I reached my hotel in Munich at 7 in the morning and would not have a room till 2 pm. The resulting impromptu city tour gave me a frozen toe, but I would not have it any other way. Another unplanned excursion was going to Macau all on my own during my Hong Kong trip. My data pack expired because I had no idea my Hong Kong sim would be on roaming in Macau (poor research I know!) and I lost connectivity to my online guides, including Google maps. I relied solely on memory, got lost in the streets where no one seemed to speak English and had the time of my life exploring the island on foot. These solo traveling trips taught me a lot about myself and the world around me.
Here are a few lessons I learnt while solo traveling
1. You can get out of any situation if you keep a cool head
The two instances I described earlier are a perfect example of that. Both could have had me fretting or worrying or even having a nervous break down. But thankfully, I kept a cool head and was able to turn the situations to my advantage.
2. Use paper. Don’t rely solely on electronics
Yes, yes, I know this goes against the ideas of going green but I can not tell you about the number of times batteries have died on me, Internet has refused to work and technology Gods have simply ignored my predicaments. As a result of these, I learnt that having basics such as your hotel and workplace address and phone numbers on paper is a good idea. So is carrying copies of travel documents and insurance.
3. Overdose on spare batteries and power banks
You think one back up is enough? No. Carry two. It is probable that you just might crash at the end of a long day and forget to charge your phone. Also, you might have only one international converter that needs to power your laptop, phone and camera. Power banks and spare batteries are big time saviours in situations like these.
4. Don’t dismiss the touristy stuff
If you follow as many travel bloggers as I do, then you know that everyone talks about experiences they have had. The focus is on less travelled, off beat locations. Don’t let the charm of these put you off the well known touristy stuff. They can be pretty great too. When I have just a day or half a day break for sight seeing, I rely on hop-on hop-off or guided tours that give me a flavour of the city. I always tell myself, now that I have had a taste of things, I have reasons to come back.
5. Walk around
If safety is not a concern, walk. You have the freedom to go anywhere, stop anywhere, take pictures at leisure and just continue. Some of my best travel pictures have been taken during walking tours. I love this aspect of solo traveling the most. No dependency on anyone and you can do just as your heart desires. As adults, we are most often bound by our responsibilities. Solo traveling gives you an opportunity to not let your sense of duty dictate your actions.
6. Don’t hesitate to ask strangers to click your picture
Pictures! Experiences that live solely in memory fade and pictures are a great way to revive them. My most used solo traveling tip is I always look around for someone carrying a similar camera as me. Even if the brand is the same, chances are pretty high that they know how to operate it. If it is a fellow photography enthusiast, you can be assured of a great picture! If not, you can always rely on the good ole’ Selfie.
7. Carry snacks and water
It is a very basic thing, I know. However, I did learn the hard way to stuff my bag with enough snacks and water from a convenience store before I start sight seeing for the day. If you are on a budget, this can save a ton of money too.
8. Enjoy your own company
On every trip, I met a couple of solo travelers. Once or twice, we formed groups but mostly I was on my own. All around me, there were families, couples or just friends together. I felt awkward at first but realised I can enjoy my company. Not having anyone to talk to made me see and observe better! I have had some great meals all by myself on these trips. One of my fondest food memory is sitting down by the edge of the water in a small town in California and eating fresh seafood as the sun set around me.
9. Get to know yourself better
Nothing like a challenge in an unknown place with no one for company to teach you a thing or two about yourself. You get to know exactly how you behave under pressure and what your strengths are. Maybe what you fear isn’t fear really, but just your perception of it.
Leave the worries of your home and family behind. Yes, you must check in briefly but while solo traveling, I strongly recommend you disconnect. Just don’t stay connected all the time. Use this me time to relax and just connect with yourself. Have fun on your own!
Solo Traveling can be enriching and I recommend it at least once to everyone, especially women. You never know what you’d discover about yourself in a trip like this! If you liked this post, do share it. Tweet, Pin… the works 🙂
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