Some people are completely happy with their own company, so doing things alone isn't even a worthy topic of conversation for them. I aspire to be one of those people. But right now, I'm someone who enjoys the company of others - especially while traveling.
I'm currently living in a new place, far away from my friends and family, and every day I come across something interesting, odd, or new and want to turn to the person next to me and say "look at that!" Then I realize that I'm walking alone, or the person next to me speaks zero English and is just trying to get on with their day.
Solo travel can be tough for those of us who are used to having friends along for the ride. So, if you're someone who thrives on the energy of other people, here are some tips to help make your solo travel a little less solo while you learn how to enjoy your own company.
Join a tour group!
I love this idea because it's a nice mix of solo and social travel. Unless you are joining a tour group with some of your own friends, you'll be traveling to a new place alone, and getting to hang out with strangers. I think the stereotypical tour groups are boring and expensive, keeping you from seeing the "real" parts of a country and only focusing on "tourist attractions."
This is where good research comes into play. I personally love the ideas and layout of the tours led by Wandering Earl. He's a self-professed nomad who truly values immersive and authentic travel, and has an open respect for the customs and people of the countries he wanders through. It's clear that he has a genuine desire to learn and teach about these places.
These qualities, coupled with the super reasonable prices, make it possible for me to recommend his tours. Check out the website and plan your next adventure!
Volunteer (or get a paying job) while traveling.
This is what I opted for this time around, and there are some benefits along with drawbacks. Whether you are volunteering or working for money, you're most likely to get very immersed in the culture of the new place very quickly. Within two weeks of moving to Thailand, I learned how to get to other parts of the country using the transpiration that locals use, and figured out which street vendors are charging me too much money for lousy food, and which are the gems.
Little things like this are easy to learn when you settle into a routine in a new place, and start getting to know locals who work with you. Another thing about working while travelling is that it brings you into contact with other travelers who are also working their way through a trip or a change of life. In a month of living and working here, I have met people from almost every continent. Talk about a learning experience!
Of course, this option also means you have to be disciplined about time. If you've made a commitment to an employer or an organization/mission, you can't just flake out because you want to explore the next town, or want to sleep away a hangover.
Use social media to help you feel connected to your family and friends.
I don't care what any hipster travel snob says, there's nothing wrong with choosing a café for the free Wi-Fi so you can Facebook/Instagram/FaceTime/whatever with your friends and family. Do whatever helps you stay connected, because forgetting the people you love just because you're out seeing the world doesn't make you a "true" traveler, it makes you a shitty person.
Share your experiences with people back home, and pay attention to their lives.
Embrace your solo travel
View solo travel as an opportunity to see more of the world, and really get to know yourself. Find out about all of the spots you'd like to explore, and go confidently alone! I would recommend having some sort of a game plan for your day, because I have found that sometimes I lose track of the exploring and end up spending an entire afternoon at a café. Nothing wrong with that, but having a plan for the day helps me get more done and get to know the area.
Traveling alone will help you get to know yourself in ways you never thought possible. You'll gain confidence in being alone, and you'll soon find that just because someone else didn't share an experience with you doesn't mean it wasn't real. Get out there, and remember that being lonely has nothing to do with being alone.
Want to read more of my stuff? Check out my personal blog site.