Traveling on your own can be very daunting. For some people, it’s the one thing that stops them from getting out there and visiting the places they want to. As an introvert, I still get anxious when I get to a new place and I have to make friends all over again.
Solo travel can be tough but it also has it’s benefits. Funnily enough, one of the main benefits is how easy it is to meet people!
When you’re travelling in pairs or as a group, you don’t naturally tend to include other people in your conversation and likewise, a group of solo travelers are less likely to reach out to big groups of friends. Some of my closest friends are people that I have met while travelling and sometimes have even met up again to visit new countries together.
To help you get over your own inhibitions about travelling on your own, here are some tips that has helped me over the years.
1) Choose the right hostel
On my travels I have found myself in some hotels that attract certain groups of traveler. There’s the all hippie, fire-twirling, crystal carrying crew with questionable hygiene and a focus on “eco” practices over all else. There was the all French Canadian hostel where the conversation was predominantly in French. Some places are just popular with certain groups of traveler because it meets that particular need. There’s even some hostels that mostly attract couples, not much fun for a single female!
To circumvent this, make sure to do you research when choosing where to stay. Read reviews online using either TripAdvisor or a hotel booking site and look for key phrases and guidance on where will suit your particular personality.
A lot of hostels these days also put on events, like free drink nights, Sunday BBQ's and movie nights. If you have a choice, I also highly recommend staying in a hostel that provides breakfast. A communal breakfast is a a great opportunity to chat to other travelers.
2) Stay in dorms
Depending on your budget, you might think that a dorm room is the last place you want to sleep. They can be noisy, smelly and personal space is at a minimum. If you do your research though, you can find some very nice dorms. The benefit of staying in a dorm is you have some automatic friends, people to chat with during the day and discuss travel plans.
I am currently staying in a "Deluxe Dorm" that has brand new orthopaedic mattresses, privacy curtains and personal outlets and lights as well as hotel-style bathrooms and a balcony. I can still sleep in comfort and take the opportunity to hang out with my fellow room mates.
3) Force yourself into the middle of the action
Just last night I arrived at a new hostel in San Cristobal, my all-female dorm was on the quiet side and everyone seemed to be hanging out in the garden by the bonfire. Even though it made me feel physically ill, I forced myself to go take a seat by the fire and say hi to everyone loudly. Once that was over with, everyone introduced themselves to me and I was instantly part of the conversation.
If being confident doesn’t come naturally to you, the best thing to do is to just pretend. Choose someone in your life that you admire for their assertiveness and pretend to be them. I pretend to be a good friend from home who is the most extroverted, confident women I know. When I’m on my own I just think, how would she assert herself into this conversation?
4) Do some group activities
Just because you’re traveling on your own doesn’t mean you have to do everything by yourself. Sign up for some half day or full day trips that interest you and you have some automatic friends for a few hours. If things work out, you then have some people to have dinner with or share a long bus trip with to the next destination. You might even end up with some travel partners for days or even weeks. Read more on travel partners.
Cuba was one of the hardest places to meet other traveler because of the lack of hostels but somehow I ended up with a great bunch of travel buddies after a horse riding trip.
Have you got any advice for the traveling on your own?