It’s quite normal to focus more on your companion when travelling. Are they comfortable? Will I annoy them? What activities to do that will be fun for both of us? Where do we go to eat that’s okay for both of us? Travelling alone allows you more time to be present and open to your surroundings and new experiences. You’ll for sure meet new people, come out of your shell and get more than you bargained for (in a good way).
Perhaps the most terrifying thing about solo travel is the feeling of loneliness. No built-in dining partner, no one to share inside jokes with and in case of illness having no one to care for you in a new country can be miserable. Traveling solo sure has its cons, but the pros far outweigh the cons. For instance being able to go at your own pace, learning more about yourself and the culture around you, not having to share the bathroom, saving money on dining and double rooms and of course you’re the master of your own itinerary.
So if you’re contemplating a solo trip and need a pep talk you’ve come to the right place. Here’s a few helpful tips to help you have some memorable me time:
Meeting new people and making friends
A B&B or small pensions usually have a good or two friendly conversations from the owner. If you choose to stay in a hostel, check its message board — some hostels arrange group tours.
On average you’ll meet more people at tourist sites anywhere else. Feeling shy? Don’t worry, the classic ‘May you take my picture’ is always an appropriate icebreaker. Take a walk down to the tourist office and meet other travellers there too.
Play some street football with the kids. Compliment them in local language. Be sure to play nice and not to come off as creepy.
Dining out in style
Try some small ethnic eatery. They have local dishes that you can sample and get to know the culture more. Use the time to learn more of the language; a good idea is to practice your verbal skills with the waiter or waitress.
Alternatively you can get a slice of pizza or a hamburger and walk along people watching or window shopping. Get something from a supermarket and enjoy it at the park bench.
If you want to experience the country’s restaurants, do it during noon rather than night (they are a lot more cheerier). If you’d like some company choose a place more likely to be crowded so you can share a table or ask another solo diner to join you.
What to do at night
Most cities are magical at night. Walk along well-lit streets; enjoy a gelato, a parade, experience street food or take an after-dark tour you can see Paris by night on a river cruise. Take advantage of the evening entertainment: concerts, movies, puppet shows, and folk dancing.
Visit a café with Wi-Fi and send travel news to your family and friends (Perhaps you’ve got a blog to post on). Call a friend, family member or lover (rates are cheaper with an international phone card). Read novels set in the country you’re visiting, this will help improve your own story telling.
Solo travel offers you some much needed solitude and real personal time. Imagine discovering yourself while discovering beautiful Chile. Neat, huh? Realizing you are own co-pilot is the real invigorating part of being a solo traveller. Like finding money in your pockets; your trip is a gift from you to you.