Why start to travel solo ?
Like most people that start to travel solo, it all started when I found out that my friends and I were incapable of agreeing in a date to go on holidays. I could take the last couple of weeks of July. They could only leave in August. I wanted to do a cultural trip. They were more interested in partying and sleeping until late. I wanted to go see the north of Europe. They wanted to spend all the holidays in the beach…. Up to this point I realized a couple or things, either I was leaving by myself or I was going to lose some vacation days and ending up grumpy on a beach. Yes, noone can be grumpy on a beach, but I’d feel bad afterwards for just wasting my holidays laying on the sand.
So, deciding that I wanted to know if this type of travel was for me, I decided to start planning my first solo trip. Even though I have travelled a lot before, to both wild and to classic destinations, the respect for the unknown made me choose an “easy” destination to try and travel solo.
Choosing the destination for your first travel solo
A bit scared, but unwilling to allow that to stop me, I decided to plan a train itinerary through the centre of Europe (Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland) with an Interrail Global Pass. This type of ticket is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to visit Europe. You only need to write the name of the train you are taking, the origin and the destination, and that’s all. You can take as many trains as you want during the period of time selected when buying the ticket. It’s a great resource!
I’ve always loved history, and every time I am heading towards a new destination I try to dig a bit about the past of the country/city/town/sight I am about to meet. Germany has always been a big player in the history of Europe. First for the alliances carried on by their royal families centuries ago. Then, for their role in both World Wars. Unfortunately, when people think of Germany, they tend to focus on their worst moments only. Being the strange person I am, I decided that I wanted to travel solo in a different way. That I wanted to focus on the “romantic” part of Germany, and so, I borrowed a German guide on palaces and castles. I got my travel guides. And I started planning what became one of the best trips of my life.
Traveling solo is not always easy
Even though I has extremely excited when I started my trip, the first day was just terrible. I had barely slept that night (my flight to Prague was leaving Barcelona at 5am), I met the most hostile natives I had ever found. And I even felt in several tourist scams that led me to feel completely robbed. Back then I thought, well, let’s hope this is just because it is the first day, tomorrow will be better. And so I kept on going to my next destination hoping for the best. Let me tell you, it didn’t go any better.
It was mid July, we were at more than 40ºC and after walking one too many kilometers the previous day, half my body was in pain. Moreover, I wasn’t really enjoying the city. If there’s something that I really am is stubborn, and so, I decided to keep on for a few more days. If after that I was still not enjoying myself, I would go home and give up forever in this thing called travel solo.
And then something happened.
That night, while I was sleeping at the hostel, an enormous storm woke me up. I went to the window and enjoyed the electric and cool air getting in from the street. The rain finally made the temperatures drop and the air became breathable again. I went back to bed with a smile painted on my face.
But it has some great moments too
Fortunately, the next morning I started to really enjoy the trip. I arrived to Berlin. The weather got better. And I finally started to appreciate the small adventure I was living through.
Traveling alone is an adventure at everybody’s hand reach. The beginning will be hard (even I, being extremely independent, have my troubles), but if you overcome that first down, it is one of the most enriching experiences anyone can have.
Travel solo also turns you into someone who can think by her(him)self. It teaches you how to completely trust your gut (somehow it’s right most of the time!). It will make you trust yourself and at same time, also be more aware of your surroundings. Also, you will be watching the world from an unadulterated lens. You will truly start to see whatever new place you are visiting.
It can help you become a better version of yourself. Travel solo also allows you to do the type of tourism you really want to do. You do not need to concede and do things that you do not want to. And you can be as selfish as you want to be. Even if you want to splurge on a fancy dinner or spend a day laying in the beach.
The interactions with the locals will always be more authentic, more realistic, when one travels alone. Also, interactions with the locals are much more prone to randomly happen: it is way more likely that someone starts talking to you in the subway if you are on your own that if you are in a group of three or four.
In any case, travel solo is a unique experience that everybody should try at least once in their lifetimes!