by Liberty Stembridge, Lifestyle Columnist
Published in Lifestyle on 13th August, 2019
Dare I say it, but solo travel can get a bit boring sometimes. When you're travelling with other people, you can rely on them for a bit of entertainment, even if you're having a slow day, but the same can't be said for travelling alone.
Making plans for activities to do while your away that take advantage of the unique features and culture of the place you're visiting is a great way to make sure you're not getting bored. It also helps if you're nervous about travelling to have a solid plan.
You don't need to stick to it religiously, but it can help calm the nerves and gives you something to fall back on should you get bored.
Solo travel can actually be more expensive than group travel, because you tend to have to pay money in order to put yourself out there and try to meet people. I don't think this is a bad thing however.
Although it may put a dent in your wallet, booking plenty of activities will not only keep you busy, but introduce you to people and experiences you may never have otherwise met or tried before. It could be outdoor excursions, yoga, cooking, art or a city tour.
Whatever it is you like to do, look around online beforehand and see if you can book some activities to try out while you're solo travelling and don't have anyone to hold you back.
A big part of solo travel is overcoming social anxiety or shyness and building the confidence to put yourself out there. It's tough, especially if you're a naturally introverted and slightly shy person like me. Nevertheless, it's worth it - and solo travel is the perfect time to build these skills that'll last you a lifetime.
If you're looking into solo travel, you've probably already looked at or considered a hostel. Although they can get a bad rep, hostels are a great way to meet people, save money and live large while you're solo travelling.
They are designed to bring people together in a fun way. When entering your hostel room, make sure to introduce yourself to the people there, and see if you can't make some friends right away. Sometimes it's as simple as inviting someone to breakfast.
As a solo traveller, you don't want to be lugging huge bags around with no one to help you out. Try to pack with space efficiency in mind, and keep it as light as possible. As a chronic overpacker, I know this can be hard the first few times, so try looking up what other people have taken when travelling to your destination.
As a solo traveller, you will likely have a budget to stick to. So many solo travellers make the mistake of not tracking and planning their spending when travelling, but this can lead to disaster when you suddenly realise you haven't got enough to afford lunch and the bus home.
Be aware of how much you've got and how long it needs to last at all times. Take steps to reduce how much you're spending, such as cooking in the hostel kitchens rather than eating out, and skipping on the overpriced touristy activities.
Your destination and accommodation are two of the major deciding factors into how your trip will go. Pick a boring destination and you may well be bored no matter how amazing your accommodation.
Pick a great destination with terrible accommodation however, and it could ruin your trip. Popular destinations are always a good bet, but read the reviews first to see what other people think of the city / area you are going to be staying before deciding whether it'll be a good fit for you. Likewise, look carefully at the reviews and location when picking an accommodation.
A hostel might have stellar reviews, but maybe it's distant from public transport and you don't have a car? All these factors come into play when deciding where to stay.
The last thing you want when solo travelling is to draw more attention to yourself than necessary. Whilst solo travelling is generally safe and there's no need to be paranoid, one of the best safety precautions you can take is to try to blend in as much as possible.
Don't dress like a tourist, dress like a local, keep your flashy cameras and jewellery to yourself. Don't overdo it on the drinking and keep an eye on your belongings at all times when out and about. Simple steps like this go a long way to making you just another passerby rather than a tourist ripe for pick-pocketing.
Tours are, in my personal experience, one of the best ways to meet people while solo travelling. If you're going on a hostel tour, which I highly recommend, you'll be meeting people that are staying in your hostel, possibly in your own room, with an activity to do together.
Group activities such as tours, be they city tours, hiking tours or biking tours are great because they help you to bond and get to know the people in your group, without the pressure of an intense social situation because you've got an activity to do. Hostel tours are usually pretty cheap, and well worth the investment if you're looking to make some friends.
Solo travel can get lonely, in fact for many people it will be lonely. You're not always going to be surrounded by newly made friends. Friends you've made will leave, or you will, and you'll constantly be forced to socialise and reintroduce yourself.
Rather than beating yourself up every time you're too shy to socialise, or too tired to go on that group tour, embrace it. Wallowing in a bit of loneliness is healthy every now and again, so long as you get up and back on the wagon as soon as possible.
Alcohol is both a blessing and a curse when solo travelling. On the one hand, bars and the like can be great for meeting and socialising, whilst a glass of wine or a beer can help to reduce a few of those backpacking nerves and make it easier to socialise if you're more of the introverted type. On the other hand, alcohol impairs your judgement, and if drunk in excess, can lead to dangerous situations.
As a solo traveller, it's important to have your wits about you at all times because you don't have someone watching your back. So whilst drinking can be a good way to socialise, do it in moderation and always make sure you can still get home. Hostel bars are great places to drink if you're nervous, because not only are they a social atmosphere, but you're never too far from your bed.
Check this article on how to travel the world and get paid to write about it.