Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Why You Should (and shouldn't be afraid to) Travel Alone

Traveling all on your own can seem pretty daunting. Heck, traveling to a foreign country in general is terrifying. But let me tell you, traveling by yourself is one of the amazing experiences you’ll ever have. Guaranteed.

A lot of people hear the words “alone” and hit some sort of wall before they can do anything. I think most people who are afraid of solo travel usually dish out excuses that have to do with getting lost or scammed or something else that has to do with fear. Someone even told me once that they were afraid of being judged for doing everything on their own… No one is judging you! Also, don’t let a language barrier keep you from entering another country (worst excuse you could make, honestly). 

I’m in London and having an absolute blast. This is my third time here and each time it has been on my own. I’ve made countless friends from countries I’ve never even been to.

I’ve been extremely lucky to have been able to travel so much, and if I’m being completely honest, I’m not sure if I know how to travel in a “non-solo” fashion. And yes, it’s exciting to explore with your best friends or maybe your family, but think of the possibilities you have on your own! (No offense towards to loved ones). 

I am by no means a pro traveller, but here are some reason why you should travel alone and why you shouldn’t be afraid to do it!

You’ll Make Friends From All Over the World

One of the most exciting parts about travel is meeting different kinds of people, whether they’re your fellow travelers or just locals in the city. The advantage of being by yourself is that you’re somewhat forced to meet new people. When you’re with your best friend, you’re going to be in their good company. Being by yourself makes talking to others much easier, and in reality it’s going to make you more approachable. I used to be extremely shy and even I met people!

Plus, the people you meet will be from places you might not have been to yet! This is my favorite part because you get to learn new things about different countries, and make friends of course.

Pro tip: stay in a hostel. It is impossible not to meet others. Just say, “hi, where are you from?” And you’re set.

You Can Do Whatever You Want

Have you ever walked by a restaurant and seen a dish on the menu that you’re craving, then you’re friend next to you says, “I don’t like seafood,” so you have to keep on walking? If you were by yourself you could have just walked in and got your damn seafood. 

Yeah, okay, that sounds kind of harsh, but let’s––when you’re on your own, you get to go, do, and eat whatever you want, which means you’re not missing out on any of the experiences of your destination. And this applies to just about everything. It’s tough to try and enjoy a museum when your best friend is moaning and groaning because they hate paintings. 

I like to discover new cities by walking, which often leads to running into great surprises (that’s how I ran into the Eiffel Tower!).

You Don’t Need to Speak the Language

I once told someone about my trip to Paris and they asked me, “you went to Paris… but you don’t speak French?” I was a little amazed that she said this actually. If I had to know the language before traveling to the country, I wouldn’t be able to see a most of the world. How silly!

Chances are there will be several people who speak English, or at least someone will. Even if they don’t, you’d be amazed at how far body language can go.

You Don’t Have to Spend as Much as You Think

Okay, you’re going to spend money, but it’s not as bad as you think. Sure, you’re going to have to pay for travel tickets and accommodation, but be smart about it and don’t be too picky. You can be a little picky; not too picky. 

Stay in hostels, it’s cheaper and there are so many benefits to it. A luxurious hotel sounds nice, but you’re going to be out exploring anyway, right? And you don’t have to spend a fortune on dinner every night. No, don’t eat at McDonald’s (I avoid chains at all costs; but I’m also a major foodie), go find cheap eats of culture. There are so many places that will serve good food for a great price. So go do a bit of research or just roam the streets until you come across something that smells good! 

You’ll Learn As You Go

I know it can be scary to get to another country and not have a clue how anything works, but take a deep breath––it’s not as bad as you think. I constantly remind myself not to rush, and somehow it miraculously makes learning a new system a hundred times easier (research also helps, so do heaps of it). If it’s your first time in a country, I’d advise picking up physical copies of maps to the city and transportation system. If your phone suddenly dies, you could be screwed. 

The best way to get familiar with the way something works is just throwing yourself into it. Well okay maybe it’s not the best way but it tends to work for me! I find that just experiencing it will teach you so much more than someone telling you what it’s going to be like. You’re probably going to get lost at some point, but that’s how you learn. 

You’re probably thinking, that’s terrible advice… but it’s going to make a great story someday!

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