There are one hundred and one different reasons why travelling alone is a better option than with a friend or partner and from choosing your own itinerary to lingering a little longer at an art gallery, once you take the plunge there will be no turning back.
No matter where you decide to go: Asia, North America or Europe, you’ll be able to truly get under the skin of a country and as long as you hold firm to the adage of nothing ventured nothing gained you’ll return with stories, friends and photographs that you’d never have considered possible.
I went traveling alone to Thailand a few years ago and would like to share some of the essential ingredients that enabled me to have a fabulous month-long trip that will stay with me for a lifetime.
Reading is a perennial pastime of most solo travellers and immersing yourself in a good book is often more rewarding than feeling that you have to indulge in some casual small talk. Bringing something from home is often a great option for the train or plane although going book shopping in second hand stores or at the airport is often quite an enjoyable experience in itself. The beauty of having something to read is that you can plant yourself in cafes, bars, restaurants, gardens or, even, street corners and not look like you’re purely loitering with intent! However, if you are looking to meet new people while away from home please bear in mind that if you’ve got your nose stuck in a book you’re probably giving off the wrong signals.
Of course you’ll miss the folks back home when you’re on your solo holidays and there will be many times when you see a beautiful sunset or fascinating temple and wish that a loved one could see it too. Back in the day I used to write letters and enclose a postcard or photo or even a sketch, this enabled me to spend a few moments with a beer or a coffee whilst the world went by around me.
So, just because you’re away from home it doesn’t mean that you can’t keep in touch and these days, what with: Skype, Email and mobile technology, you’ll probably be looking for ways to escape as opposed to communicate. Try not to get too bogged down in daily emails though as sometimes it can be an emotional crutch that may actually hamper your travelling experiences rather than exploit them.
Of course, you don’t have to write correspondence to find yourself a cosy corner for a few moments of creative peace. I found that keeping a diary was an excellent means of expressing my thoughts and feelings without actually having to talk or write to anybody else other than myself. Taking photos was another excellent way of keeping a record of my experiences and combining diary and photographs meant that I have a wonderful keepsake of my trip. These days no matter where you are you’ll find a local store that can print off some of your digital pics and sticking your photos straight into your diary means that you’ll never lose your favourite images once you’ve returned home.
Another method of keeping yourself active and happy whilst on your adventure holidays is to get involved with the locals. If you start to learn a new language before you leave home then you can hit the ground running. Also, as you’re travelling alone, you might find that having the guts to practise may be the difference between a tasty roadside treat or the same old western food that you get back home. You may also find that language learning opens up a few cultural doors and swapping your English for a local’s native version will often lead to a friendship that you’d never have discovered if you were travelling with an English-speaking group.
There is simply no reason why travelling on your own needs to be considered a handicap and from coach journeys to group excursions, if you want to meet new people then there are always options available. However, once you discover the joys of travelling on your lonesome you may be less inclined to hook up with anyone else other than Jack Kerouac and Michel Thomas.
Biog: Chris has swapped his travelling bag for a nappy bag at the moment however, he’s sure that adventure holidays are just around the corner.
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