Travelling solo isn’t for the faint-hearted. It’s taking a leap into the unknown. Exploring a whole new city with language barriers and unfamiliar streets is hard enough - now you have to do this all on your own?
It can be daunting, scary even. Your mind is filled with all sorts of questions. What if you get lonely? What if you get bored? What if you see something exciting and you want to turn to a friend to share your feelings with?
If you’re a first time solo traveller, it can be an anxiety-ridden experience. Before you take the plunge into seclusion in the mountains, try these options to ensure you have ample human connection while still allowing yourself some alone-time. Here are 5 things every anxious solo traveller can do to take the edge off.
1. Stay in a guesthouse
Every time I travel alone, I would choose an all-girls’ dormitory over a hotel room. With the surge in accommodations catering to the budget and solo traveller, hostels and guesthouse dormitories are decent. The ones I’ve stayed in were minimalist and clean.
Not only is sharing a room a cheaper option, staying in a hotel room by myself gives me the creeps. I also feel less alone with other humans around and I can choose the amount of interaction I need. If you’re concerned on your next Anywhr trip, simply let them know your preferences of a female dorm or guesthouse in the travel form sent to you after you’ve made your booking. Hostels are also automatically assigned for ‘Budget’ tier travellers.
If you’re shy and not sure how to start a conversation with your roommates, the classic “Hi, where are you from?” usually breaks the ice. More often than not, the other travellers are like you and welcome a casual conversation after a long day out and about.
2. Wander in nature
There’s nothing like returning to the basic essentials of life. Being in nature is like being wrapped in a blanket; it’s cosy and therapeutic. Whether you’re hiking up a hill, walking on a mountain trail or cycling at the park, just being in a place where you can hear your own thoughts, the chirping of birds and the flow of natural streams can easily bring your stress levels down.
If you travel in specific seasons like autumn, observing the colours on leaves and allowing your thoughts to wander is a perfect way to reconnect with yourself on a deeper level. This pleasure of rediscovery is a luxury only solo travellers can afford on their getaway.
The truth is I’m not much of a coffee drinker. But I’ve found cafes to be a relaxing place to kick back and slow down in between the haste of visiting one tourist attraction after another. I order a cup of green tea latte, pick a seat by the window or on the balcony overlooking the street, and watch the world go by while I’m in my thoughts, or even flipping through my personalised Travelogue.
A city isn’t only made up of its culture, buildings and history. Its people are an important piece of a city’s social fabric. Watching the locals as they go about their day is fascinating—the way they dress, they way they greet each other on the street, the way they speed-walk when they rush to work. It’s not a complete immersion of “a day in the life of a local”, but it’s an interesting take on the general way of life of its people.
Our tip: If you go to a cafe, memorise a phrase and try ordering in their native tongue. Most locals will appreciate the effort you made. Not only is this be a great starter to a conversation, you might get an extra drink for free - I’ve been lucky to experience this a couple of times!
*Related Post: Destination X: On Learning From Falling (Literally)
4. Go on free city tours
You’ll be amazed by the number of free tours available for visitors. There are bike tours, walking tours and even hop-on hop-off bus tours. Check with the city’s tourism centre to find out more about the experiences they offer to foreigners.
Some universities also have volunteer groups that take foreigners around to popular local spots as a way to learn English and also mingle. This is a good opportunity to try something new and even make some new friends. The best part? You do not have to book them in advance, and can just show up like how you simply show up at your airport for your surprise trip!
*Related Post: Exploring Not Following: An Anecdote With Pictures!
5. Check out local events
If you’ve done your share of alone-time and are looking to learn more about the city, check out the events that are going on near you. This is a great way to enjoy a quintessential local experience, and your Anywhr Travelogue will give you just the right suggestions.
You can also go a step further and ask around for recommendations on the best food to eat and the best places to go—you might find insider information that will forge great experiences!
So if travelling solo makes you think twice or thrice, but there’s a voice within urging you to take the leap, don’t let your anxieties stop you. Face the fear and do it anyway.