Have you ever looked at a destination, and wondered what it would be like to go explore it… alone? Traveling does not always have to be something that you plan with a partner. In fact, the idea of being able to travel to wherever YOU want to go, see whatever YOU want to see, and do whatever YOU want to do sounds mighty appealing…
At Life Before Work, we get e-mails daily from people asking about joining one of our tours, as solo travelers. Not only do we accept such inquiries – we love them! Solo travellers on our tours are always the final pieces of the puzzle in each group. Individuals who embark on journeys on their own bring a whole new level of excitement to the group, and enhance the surroundings by encouraging one another to expand their own horizons. They came here not to just witness the culture of the area they are traveling in, they came to meet new people and grow relationships with them.
Solo travelers are a special kind of people – whom I admire deeply. It takes guts to be able to fly across the world to somewhere you have never been before, to meet a group of unfamiliar people, and embark on a journey with them. These are the kind of people you are going to want to get to know in your group, for they are bound to have a plethora of interesting stories!
From my past LBW tours, I can still remember which of the members came solo; they stay clearly embedded into my memory as they exude a different type of aura -one that can only come from taking on a trip like that without a partner in crime.
Although traveling solo is not necessarily an act that everyone may want to venture at some point of his or her lives, I believe it is something that everyone should at least consider doing. Even the recognition of thinking “I really do/don’t think I could do that…” teaches you something about yourself. Now, it is up to you – are you up to the challenge?
Joining a tour group is the perfect way to “dip your feet into” the solo traveling lifestyle. This way, you can jet off on your own to the location that you so choose, while having the comfort of a group at the same time. If this is your first time traveling alone, I highly suggest jumping in on a tour group to begin with. This way, you get a feel of solo traveling, along with a tour guide and companions that will help you along the way. During this time, you are able to stick with the group in the planned activities, or venture off in any direction you see fit. Even just being able to walk around a foreign country, with the contact information of someone in the same general vicinity, will help ease your mind.
Additionally, by beginning your traveling with a group you will be able to learn a thing or two from the tour guides and other members; what other locations are great to visit, what were some of the most incredible views they have ever witnessed, and where they are dying to go to next. Listening to tales from fellow travelers will bring your wanderlust into full gear, and provide you with some extremely helpful ideas and tips for the future.
A lot of travelers on LBW tours decide to travel more after the tour is finished – venturing into other areas in South East Asia, Europe… wherever their heart desires. By having had the experience of traveling within a tour group, you should feel a lot more comfortable with the idea of taking on another adventure, this time – on your own. Or perhaps, you may have met someone within the tour group that wants to join you, or perhaps meet you at a point along the way – great! If you so choose, you now have many options of paths to go down.
If you are trying to decide where to go on your first solo adventure, I would recommend choosing some where that communication won’t be a large issue. Nothing makes your feelings of loneliness worse than actually not being able to properly communicate with those that are around you. Even if you are skilled enough in a second language that’s prominent in a country you would like to go visit – then here is your chance to master it! Ideally, it is best to choose somewhere that you can go to and not have to stress about a complete language barrier. Just by doing a bit of research, you will find that multiple languages are common amongst the majority of the countries throughout the globe. Language is something that interests everyone – as it is the very thing that connects us to others. I remember a fellow traveler once telling me about how he came across a small bar in Greece when he was traveling alone; he convinced the owner that in exchange for him staying all day at the bar, purchasing his beer and food, to teach him basic Greek. He said that this was one of the greatest days of all his years of travels. It’s incredible how the simplest things can turn into the most exceptional of memories.
In reality, with the joys of technology and social media these days – you are never really “alone”. Whether or not you choose to carry a cellular device, or sign onto Facebook here and there, there are always platforms available to you to get in contact with those back home. Skype is found on most computers at internet cafes, and is a great way to get your dose of familiar faces back in. No matter how independent of a person you are, it is always nice to hear that you are missed. Plus, it’s always fun to be able to tease them with exciting stories and (ideally) the incredible weather you are surrounded by. Essentially, reminding yourself of WHY you went on this trip in the first place, for whatever reason that may be, will increase your experience of the trip itself. Whether you needed a break from work, or a general change of scenery, reminding yourself of that will make your current surroundings that much more incredible.
However, on the topic of social media and technology – DO NOT let these run your vacation for you. By that, I mean – don’t be stressed out by the idea of not checking your Facebook everyday, or sending Snapchats of every new thing you see. Although I am a big advocate for taking pictures to showcase your journey to others upon your return, you don’t want to have spent the entirety of your travels admiring the view through your IPhone screen. Real memories are made right there – in the moment. Snapchats are fun only for the 10 seconds the receiver has to view it, and then the image is gone, as is that piece of your travels. At the end of the day, would you rather lie down and think about the amazing people you met and the events you took part in, OR the amount of silly pictures you sent to your friends back home. As a solo traveler, your trip is 100% how you make of it – don’t let technology dictate your adventures, that’s YOUR job.
Ultimately, if you have been dying to go on a trip but don’t have anyone to travel with – this is NOT something that should be holding you back. You have lots of possibilities with travel groups, or various destinations that are so open to solo travellers that you will never feel that “alone” feeling to which you may fear. You are going to meet people along the way, regardless of whether or not you embark on the adventure alone, that will change your life forever. That also means, that YOU are bound to change someone’s life along your travels as well….
Keep that in mind, and just embrace your chance to travel the way you wish. Whether you are an early riser, or a night owl – your daily schedule is held back by nothing but your personal decisions. This is the time to appreciate the opportunities that true freedom brings you, and immerse yourself in wanderlust.