Have you ever dreamed of setting off by yourself to watch the sunset on the horizon or to replenish your soul with some long overdue me time, but been prevented by a lack of funds or other nagging doubts such as a fear of flying, what others might think, or what you would do if there was an emergency? Well fear not, because all of these obstacles can so easily be overcome. I myself used to have very similar thoughts, being a young, naive, scatterbrained and accident-prone female, until I realised that as long as you are sensible and do a small amount of preparation, there is no more risk involved in travelling alone than with others.
My first solo trip was in 2016, aged 24. Until that point, I’d only ever been on holiday with friends or family and had often felt restricted in what I could do or where I could go, because there was always someone else’s desires to satisfy. I’d debated going away by myself for some time; I looked into coach / touring holidays but soon realised that most were either a) designed for people much older than myself, b) aimed at young energetic party animals (definitely not me!) or c) ridiculously expensive, especially when compared with the cost of organising a trip for myself. In the end, personal circumstances at the time encouraged me to bite the bullet and book my very first solo holiday.
Being quite an anxious and shy person who had never been away from home without company before, I kept my first trip fairly simple and low key. I booked a Monday – Friday at a small studio flat in Torquay, packed my suitcase and made the 4 hour journey in the car from Sussex to the English Riviera. The roadtrip in itself was totally freeing, as I could stop when I liked, eat what I liked, choose the music I listened to and what volume to play it at without worrying about upsetting anyone else. I still had some anxieties about the week ahead, but from that first day I knew I would not regret my decision to travel solo.
The actual week of my trip passed in a bit of a blur, as I filled most of my days with sight-seeing and doing typical touristy things, always with my camera in tow. I didn’t do anything particularly exciting or adventurous, they were all similar activities to what I would have done with family and friends, such as scenic train rides and river cruises, visiting the zoo and eating ice creams on the seafront, but doing them alone was a completely different experience. I actually engaged in conversation with people I’d never met before and was able to take my time exploring the things that interested me. I could take a detour on the way to and from my destination for the day if a road sign grabbed my attention. I could get up and go to bed whenever I liked, cook what I liked for dinner and never feel pressured by time or trying to keep others happy.
Since that first solo trip away, I have gradually become more adventurous; staying away for longer periods of time, travelling a greater distance and edging further away from the tourist trail in each location I have visited, to the point where I will soon be jetting off on my first solo trip spanning 4 different European countries for an entire month! This may not sound very exciting compared to those travellers who backpack through the wilderness in exotic locations, but to me, it’s a big step forward in finding out whether I would like to spend more of my life travelling or whether it will be something that I can put to rest once I have satisfied my curiosity. I still have anxieties about travelling solo, but have recently adopted the attitude to life that if you never try, you’ll never know. So my advice to anyone out there thinking of booking their very first or indeed their hundredth solo trip would be go for it! It will give you an exhilarating sense of freedom, increase your confidence and add another chapter to your life experiences, which help you discover, shape and become the person that you want to be.