Lessons in solo travel.

A couple of weeks ago I took a trip away by myself.  I have never been on a solo trip before, and I was both anxious and excited.  I went to a little country town called Chiltern.  I was only away overnight, but that short break was enough to recharge my batteries and bolster my self-confidence.

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 This trip was a Big Deal for me.  It confirmed to me that I was capable of throwing myself into a little adventure, and not only coming out unscathed, but ending up happier and stronger than when I left home.

Although I was only away for a little while, I learned a few things about travelling on my own.  Today I’d like to share a few of the lessons I learned from my solo mini-break.

Packing light is your best option.

Whenever my ex-boyfriend and I would head off for a trip, I would always pack a ginormous case.  Because we had the car with us, I would cram tonnes of stuff into my case and throw a few extra items onto the backseat.  I was a champion at over-packing.

This time around, I was relying on public transport to get around.  I knew that I was going to have to carry my luggage until I could check into my hotel, so I didn’t want to pack too much.  In the end, I was pretty ruthless with my packing.  I managed to get everything I needed for the weekend into one backpack.  I used every single thing that I packed, and I didn’t once think “Golly, I wish I’d remembered to throw in my hair straightener/ fancy stilettos/ extra handbag”.  You can definitely get away with packing just the bare essentials for a short trip away.

A map is a solo-traveller’s best friend.

When you’re on your own in a strange place, the last thing you want is to get lost.  It pays to be prepared by getting yourself a map of your destination and marking any important landmarks on it.  Don’t rely on your phone to help you navigate.  On my weekend away, I helped at least six groups of travelers who had gotten lost when their phone reception failed.  Don’t be afraid to whip out a paper map, because it looks way stupider than  standing on a street corner, screaming at a phone that won’t pick up a signal.

Don’t over-extend yourself.

One of the best parts about travelling on your own is that you can fill your time however you want.  You don’t have to yawn your way through a museum tour that your partner just Had To See or chow down on weird local cuisine if you don’t want to.  Before you head off, make sure that you do a bit of research on your destination and decide on your must-see sights.

However, don’t over-plan.  While it’s great to have a few pre-arranged activities, make sure that you leave yourself plenty of time to just explore at your own pace.  On my weekend trip I had a blast just walking around, strolling into random shops and visiting odd little eateries.  One of the best moments was the morning where I got up early and took a leisurely stroll around the lake, fed some ducks and wrote in my journal for an hour by the waters’ edge.  You need to leave yourself a bit of time to just be and enjoy the moment.

Expensive isn’t always better

On my final day away, I decided to order breakfast from my motel rather than go out for a meal.  The motel I chose was a simple, budget family hotel.  Although it was adequate, it was a very no-frills place.  However, the breakfast I was served that morning was one of the most delicious I’ve ever eaten.  And it cost a mere $12.

 

If you don’t have a massive budget, you can still enjoy a trip away.  Just because you haven’t spent loads of cash on your break doesn’t mean that it won’t be special.  Just spend what you can afford and enjoy the little luxuries.

 

Have you ever been on a trip by yourself?  Do you have any solo travel tips to add to this list?

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8 thoughts on “Lessons in solo travel.

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and suggestions!!! This is super helpful and inspiring as I prepare for a solo journey (sans car). All of your advice is rock solid and confirms some if my instincts as I prep for my trip. Thanks again and I’m happy for you that your own solo trip proved beneficial.

  2. Word. Agree with everything in this post and congrats on taking that step, and it going so well!

    A short break is so helpful, especially long weekends. I travel via public transport too and definitely bare essentials is always enough, yet I found I too used to pack loads to make sure I’d be attractive to my partner on couple trips in the past. But when I travel alone I feel freer.

    Totally agree on maps – I usually have two or three maps because road, street and tourist maps tend to be different. I do checkout all the recommended places to visit in an online search beforehand and make a note of which interest me the most but like you said I always wander about and find lot’s of different things too. Plus it’s true that I spend so much less on a solo holiday!

    Congrats again and top post!

    • I can definitely relate to what you’ve said about feeling freer when you travel alone. On my second day away, I didn’t even wear makeup. I had only packed a bottle of moisturizer, a lipstick and some mascara and I didn’t even feel the need for those. I felt like I was able to just get back to basics and connect with the experience, rather than constantly thinking about another person, worrying if they were having fun, compromise on what to do and so on. Solo travel is such a brilliant experience, and I think everyone, whether solo or coupled, should give it a go at some point.

    • You should! I just picked a destination that I could get to by train, but Chiltern turned out to be fascinating. I learned so much in one weekend and saw so many gorgeous things, and I traveled less than forty minutes to get there. Local travel is so underrated!

  3. Awww, I love this!

    With the exception of one trip to Europe, every holiday I’ve taken since the age of 21 has been by myself. I’m not sure what I’d add (your tips are fantastic!), other than to possibly smile, dismiss your nerves and talk to everyone around you. It can be daunting to be a female navigating the world on her own, but I’ve found that most people are generally extremely kind, interesting and willing to help, and I’ve made some awesome friendships (which are still going strong to this day!) this way!

    • I’d definitely agree. I wasn’t too social on this trip, but next time I think I’d feel confident enough to strike up a conversation with a stranger and make some new mates.

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