I took my first solo trip when I was a newly turned 18-year-old (just over a year ago). As soon as I was legally allowed to travel solo, that is exactly what I did.
Over the years (my whole life) I have travelled around the world with my family. My parents have itchy feet and get up and pack every chance they get, so I have had the absolute privilege to go along with them. So when it came to my first solo trip I was extremely confident.
I never planned to take a solo trip at this time. I came up with the idea over night and by the next day I was booking flights, accommodation and planning what countries I was going to go to. Within two weeks I was on my way out into the big wide world.
Because my trip happened so quickly I didn’t get much time to plan as much as I could have, or even time to think about what it was going to be like to travel solo so young. So here drawn from my experience, I have developed what it is like to travel on your first solo trip.
On this trip I visited England, Spain, Monaco, France and Italy.
1. Facing Loneliness
Yes, I did get lonely. Did it bother me? No.
As I grew up travelling with my parents and two sisters, I always had someone to share my experiences with. But this time, I was enjoying everything totally by myself. So on that note, yes I was lonely. I am a very shy person so I didn’t put myself out there as much as I could have, but at the end of the day I thoroughly enjoyed doing what I was doing.
I grew to love solo travel. After I accepted the fact that I was alone and I learnt how to enjoy my own company, I soon discovered it is the best type of travel. I promise!
So if you are travelling solo, be ready to feel the same way I did. Everyone feels lonely at some point through his or her solo trip.
2. Those awkward “selfies”
As I said before, I planned my trip under two weeks so I had no time to buy a good camera or even do some googling about solo travel photos. So I learnt the hard way.
As the Nike slogan goes “just do it,” which is exactly what I did when it came to taking my photos.
I took a lot of selfies as best I could and I also asked people to take photos of me. This is your trip; don’t be afraid to ask for a photo, even if it may seem goofy.
I didn’t have a tripod or a selfie stick so I used my Go Pro Hero 4 as it captured a lot of what surrounded me. I suggest taking a tripod to get excellent photos of you on your travels and to invest in a professional camera so you can get the best quality shot.
Since my first solo trip I have purchased an Olympus OMD EM5 MARK II, and many gadgets to go with it.
3. Planning your days
This one should be an obvious one. You are travelling; you should be keeping busy all day everyday. But if you ever find a day where you want to get out of the city/village (whatever you may be doing) to do something a little different, then day trips are your best friend. There are hundreds of organised day trips or day trips you can plan yourself to do that little bit extra, a quick Google search will help you out here.
Get to know the place you are in. Explore, discover and learn all about the place you are in, become an expert. Museums and galleries are also a cheap/free way to have an interesting day out.
4. Sometimes asking people on the street is the best advice you can get
This one may sound confronting, but I found this to be the most useful way to get around a city I had never been to before. If you are lost or need to know where a certain place is or simply which direction to go in, asking someone in a store or someone on the street is extremely useful.
Of course use your own instincts when approaching people, you can never be too careful when it comes to approaching strangers. Try to avoid asking strangers directions in less crowded places; go more prepared if this be the case a.k.a plan ahead.
5. Learning how to eat out alone
Before I went on my first solo trip, I had never actually eaten out alone. I didn’t even think this would be a problem travelling solo. But at first eating was one of the loneliest things I did. I soon loved it. I loved sitting there and learning the language of the country I was in, enjoying the food or even just enjoying the time I got to sit down.
Trust me, you will soon come to love eating alone to.
So off you go, take that trip of a lifetime!