What I Learnt From Travelling Solo
I recently set off solo to Tanzania – I had no idea what to expect. The experience was insane. I had the time of my life. I made amazing friends, immersed myself in the culture and learnt so much about myself. I’ve come back better and stronger than ever – I now know that I can accomplish anything I want too, that being alone is ok and that travelling solo will open up so many doors to new friendships, experiences and opportunities.
5 things I wish I knew before travelling solo.
1. Alone time is good
I loved making friends and forming bonds with fellow travellers, but I also loved that I had the freedom to have my own time. I think learning to be comfortable alone is so important, and this is exactly what even small amounts of alone time will do.
Even sitting on a plane, waiting in an airport or spending a night in a foreign hotel solo can all be daunting, but these things are all a lesson, and every time you conquer something alone, you are one step closer to conquering the world.
2. You will connect with people, both locals and fellow travellers on a better level (and making friends is easier than it seems).
Travelling solo gives you the opportunity to connect with people on a different level than when travelling with others. Not only with fellow travellers, but with locals. I connected with so many locals, from the porters on the mountain, to hotel workers, to local villagers, and learnt so much about the culture which I am sure I would not have experienced if I had of not been solo.
I think local people are also often drawn to solo travellers, and want to make them feel comfortable and welcome. I was often overwhelmed by the kindness and helpful nature of locals, porters and hospitality workers.
Initially I was worried that being a solo traveller, I would be left out, but that wasn’t the case at all. The people I met on the tours I joined were all so great, I don’t think I could have asked for better people. I think the main thing to remember is, you are travelling in the same place, doing the same things as your fellow travellers – so that’s already one thing you have in common.
3. You’ll have good and bad days – learn to cherish the highs and learn from the lows
Some days you’ll feel like you are on the top of the world, and other days you might feel down in the dumps, lonely, anxious or homesick. Sometimes little things going wrong can seem like a big deal when you are on the other side of the world alone. Pick yourself up and realise that tomorrow is a new day, don’t let a small bad moment or experience define the rest of your trip.
4. The world isn’t so scary
Dramatic news stories are what modern day media loves. I think a lot of the time people get so caught up in the media and opinions of people on the internet that we freak ourselves out. When reading the safe traveller site for Tanzania, I was overwhelmed with the consensus of “be extremely cautious”.
By the end of my time in Tanzania, I was comfortable and realized that these stories we hear are not common. Bad things can happen anywhere, and you can never be too cautious, but (most) people are good and the world isn’t as scary as it seems. Just because a culture is different to your own doesn’t automatically mean it is dangerous.
5. I’m stronger than I think
Being nervous, anxious or even terrified of solo travel is normal, and it’s safe to say I was a mix of all 3 before my first solo trip. The most important lesson I learnt was that I am strong enough to do anything I put my mind too.
The general response I got from people before my trip when I told them I was not only travelling solo to Tanzania, but also planning to climb Kilimanjaro, was ‘Why the hell would you do that alone?’. People who have never stepped out of their comfort zone are going to question it.
I wanted to go to Tanzania, I wanted to experience the culture, go on safari, and most importantly I wanted to climb Kilimanjaro. So, I did. Why would I let the fact that I had no one close to be interested in doing the same things as I stop me from going?
At the end of the day I’m so glad I did this trip solo, and I can’t wait for many more. I made amazing friends, immersed myself in the culture and everything I did, and most importantly I learnt so much about myself, and have come back a whole new me.
So if you have been debating solo travel, my advice is to go for it.