Worldwide solo travel was how I traveled most of the time. I had a dream of traveling. My dream was to see the world without any strings attached. The idea was to travel freely with no particular itinerary, going with my instincts and inspiration.
Why Travel Alone?
Why do this alone and not go with a friend? The answer for me was simple: I didn’t want to depend on others to fulfil my dream. The logistics of long-term traveling are not complicated but depend mostly on two very important resources: time and money.
To get the time, I quit my job. To get the money I had saved up for a couple of years. No one around me was willing to do the same and I can’t blame them. It’s a bit crazy and that’s why I had to do it alone.
We are social beings, constantly surrounded by others. Traveling alone can be a bit scary for most. A lot of people told me that they could never do it. Some people thought that I wasn’t able to do it. I honestly think anyone can do it. Once you start traveling and get over the initial fear, you discover a lot about yourself and how you relate to others. Fear is something that everyone has, but travelling alone puts fear in perspective. Without noticing, you stop being afraid and find out that although you’re traveling alone, you’re never alone. I said this many times on my trips and it’s true.
The Traveling Spirit
Being a solo traveler adds another layer to the traveling spirit as it “forces” you to be more open to others. There were moments on my trips where the hotel receptionists were my best friends as sometimes I didn’t talk to anyone else the whole day. As a consequence, I learned to appreciate people that do this type of work. A lot of times they are your warm welcome to a new country. They’re the ones that greet you in the morning and give you a good night before bedtime. They can be very useful, giving you good advice or arranging for tours and transportation. I wouldn’t have done a lot of things without them.
Worldwide Solo Travel Advantages
- Managing you own budget;
- No strings attached;
- It makes you more open to meet new people;
- You get to know yourself better;
- Leaving your comfort zone happens more often;
The main advantage of traveling alone is freedom as you literally do whatever you want, whenever you want. There is no discussion and no conceding. You don’t have to justify anything to anyone! It’s total freedom!
When you travel with others, be it a couple, family or friends, there will always be a discussion about where to go, where to eat, what to do, how to get there and someone will always have to concede. It’s inevitable.
Worldwide Solo Travel Disadvantages
- Sometimes you feel lonely;
- You have to take care of everything yourself, including bookings, transport, etc.;
- Hotel rooms are more expensive if you don’t share;
- Dodgy areas are more dangerous;
- You become an easier target for thieves;
- Some experiences are best shared;
- Sometimes you don’t do things because you’re alone;
Worldwide solo travel can help put things into perspective, but sometimes it can also feel lonely. I kept telling people that I was never alone, and I was telling the truth. Whenever I felt lonely, I would Skype back home. But this didn’t really happen that much to make an impact.
I spent a good part of my budget booking hotel rooms. A single room is more expensive than a double room shared between two people. If you want your privacy on tours, you will have to pay a single supplement. As a result, a solo traveler spends more money on accommodation.
I don’t like drinking alone, neither going out to a bar on my own. Even a beach can be more a complicated experience as leaving your stuff unattended is an invitation to get robbed.
On the other hand, I met so many people that I kind of transformed myself a little into a different person. I mean, I’m not the most giving person on the first contact. Even with the girls, I’m more of a charmer than a Casanova. I’m a bit shy and need to build trust with others to feel comfortable and be myself. On my trips, everyone thought of me as being everything but shy! I was an extrovert and it was lots of fun!
Minimising Worldwide Solo Travel Disadvantages
Whenever you feel lonely, a great way to meet people is getting on tours. Spending a few days on a tour will get you in a group of random people and if you’re lucky, you might get along with some of your new travel mates. I did this a few times with companies like G-Adventures and Intrepid Travel and it worked well. Mixing up your travel types can help you minimize the disadvantages of solo travel.
In Mumbai, India, a day tour to visit the impressive Dharavi slum ended with me, the guide and two cool English girls having street food and some drinks that night. I went on to meet the girls again in Goa and we had dinner.
In Australia I did a 7-day tour to Ayers Rock (Uluru) in a cool group. I ended up falling in love…
On my tours through Asia and Africa, I met two Australian guys I ended up visiting when I travelled to Australia and they offered me a place to stay.
In Ecuador, I met a cool couple on a day tour to Isla de la Plata. We met up again for a drink in Cusco, Peru.
I was about to join the long bus line up to Machu Picchu when I saw a friend I had met the week before on a tour in Trujillo and as a result, we visited the Inca ruins together.
Several times my path crossed with two Canadian girls before we decided to go on a tour together through Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia and after about 10 days together, I went back to my worldwide solo travel.
I joined a group tour for my Tibet trip where I met several cool fellow travelers. A German couple ended up visiting me back home for a short vacation.
What these examples show is that if you’re open minded and want to meet people, it’s not that hard. If you feel lonely, join a short tour and make new friends or at least have some company for a change. When the tour ends, you can decide to keep that company or just go back to your worldwide solo travel.
Read about other ways of minimising the disadvantages of a worldwide solo travel in my post about going unnoticed.