There are many articles and information found on the Internet about Solo Travel. In 2006, I did my first completely independent Solo Travel trip and loved it! Of course, traveling with a companion and traveling solo have their own unique advantages and/or disadvantages.
Companionship/Sharing: The most important advantage of traveling with a friend is having that constant companionship and someone to share the travel experience with. I do miss that when I’m traveling solo.
The Cost Factor: Having someone to travel with helps in sharing the expenses like lodging and maybe shared products that you have to pack for the trip such as shampoo, soap, laundry soap and even meals/beverages, etc. Ordering a pizza in Italy and then sharing it . . . on second thought that’s the kind of thing that doesn’t need sharing. 😀
Buddy System: While traveling from one destination it’s very convenient to have a travel companion that you can leave your luggage/carry-on with while you go visit the little girls room or while you go check-out those airport/train station shops. Below is a photo of my belongings at the Malaga Airport. Try taking all of this into a little girl’s restroom. And by the way, be careful about your things until you are safely inside the terminal. I used my loop lock and threaded it through all of my belongings and locked them to the cart. I saw this person just hovering close by and they didn’t really look like a traveler so I got a little suspicious and locked up my things.
Take the Load Off: While traveling with someone, the burden of responsibility can be shared and it is great to have someone other than yourself to help some of the decision making that takes place on your trips. In 2005 I caught a bad cold in Siena and it was nice to have my friend traveling with me to go and get something for my cold. She also managed to arrange to rent a SMART car for the day so we could go exploring around Tuscany. Since I was sick it would’ve been harder traveling by bus since it was also raining a bit and I was in no condition to call around and make all the necessary arrangements. My friend took on that responsibility while I rested.
Alone but not Lonely: It’s great having a friend to share the travel experiences with and sometimes when I’m traveling Solo I do feel alone, but not necessarily lonely. There’s a difference. I’m someone that can be quite self entertaining when I want to be and I have no problems going out on my own and finding things to do by myself. The loneliness comes up when I’m feeling a bit homesick but not necessarily because I’m traveling solo.
|TIPS ON DINING ALONE|
I feel very comfortable going it solo except when dining alone. Here are some tips that I wanted to pass on when dining alone:
Occupy Yourself: In certain restaurants I do feel awkward. So I want to bring something along to occupy myself in case there is nothing to look at or in case I don’t find someone to talk with. Sometimes when dining alone I’m lucky enough to be sitting next to someone who is interesting and will have lots to share and talk about with me. But then there are times when I don’t, so I’ll want to bring my guidebook/iTouch so I can keep myself busy. My favorite things to bring are sightseeing information so I can prepare for the next things on my itinerary. Might as well make good use of what spare time I have.
Find the Comfort: I seek out places that will make me feel comfortable. In Spain I had a lot of fun going to the Tapas bars because they were filled with so much activity, I could just sit at the bar, eat, talk to the bartender or fellow bar stool people and just kind of hang out.
Get a View: I’ll look for outdoor cafes where I can people watch. In Ronda, I enjoyed dining at my hotel’s restaurant because it had the most incredible view the the New Bridge and it was gorgeous. In Venice, I sat in an out door cafe and watched people walk by, boats riding by and had the most beautiful sunset.
Join the Party: Don’t be afraid to join in on the fun. A great example of this was when I went to this nice restaurant in Venice Italy to have lunch. There were two big groups having a party and the only table available was a center table right smack in the middle of the two parties. The waiter asked if the table was okay or if I wanted to dine outside. Well, the two groups looked like they were having so much fun, I figured what the heck it’ll be entertaining and fun to just watch while I eat my lunch. I ended up having a fun time talking to a girl from the one party and the other group kept refilling my glass of prosecco. They were both celebrating the graduation of two individuals. So the moral of the story is sometimes you have to put yourself in a situation of not being alone and when you do you just might be pleasantly surprised.
|ADVANTAGES TO SOLO TRAVEL|
Freedom: I’ll start with the most obvious. I have more freedom to do what I want to do and to change my plans whenever I feel like it.
Meeting People: Traveling solo forces me to go out and meet people along the way (locals and fellow tourists) which is something I don’t do as much when traveling with a companion. There is definitely a huge community of Solo Travelers out there. I saw solo travelers waiting in train stations, in local restaurants and bars and while sightseeing. It can be very interesting and fun meeting people while traveling. I especially enjoy meeting locals along the way. I remember hanging out with a girl that worked at one of the hotels I was staying in. It can be fun.
The Approach Factor: Being a solo travel and a female solo traveler makes me more approachable. I can’t tell you how many times locals have stopped to offer to help me without me even asking. I think people see us as vulnerable and really go out of their way to help. I think this is more so than two people traveling together. I remember a great trip I took to the Czech Republic. While traveling by train from Prague to Cesky Krumlov I wasn’t too sure where I should get off (something I have learned and have improved upon since that trip). A nice mother and her son joined me in the compartment. The little boy was so friendly and although he didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Czech we communicated somehow and it made the train ride go by so much faster. The mother studied her map and sat by me to explain all the stops that I would be passing and told me which stop to get off at to catch my connecting train. I was so thankful.
|WHAT TO BRING ALONG WHEN TRAVELING SOLO|
Faith and Trust: I have been very fortunate during my trips to have experience few if any problems. But I always travel with a strong sense of spiritual faith and a healthy trust in my instincts to making the right decisions. Having a bit of luck on my trips doesn’t hurt either. 😀
Attitude & Good Sense of Humor & Adventure: The two most important things that you should bring along when traveling either with a companion or solo is your positive attitude and your good sense of humor. I always travel with a sense of fun and adventure and even when I make mistakes I try to stay positive and not let things ruin my trips.
I really had a blast traveling with my friend in 2005 and I always have an awesome time traveling solo. The main thing is that I’m traveling and having a great time!