There have been solo travellers since humans began and people have historically moved around all over the place by any means necessary, ever since we crawled out of the sea. That was our first vacation and we haven’t stopped since.
Solo male travellers used to make up the majority of the solo contingent but that is rapidly changing. Search the hashtags on Instagram and there’s a whole world of solo female travellers out there. Fearless women who can take on the world and take an incredible picture whilst doing it.
I am a woman and I have travelled alone on quite a few occasions during my life. Some of my experiences have been more successful than others, but, thanks to the increase in solo travel and social media, it is now very much normal, even trendy to travel alone.
I’m currently in Goa alone, as my partner has had to return home to get a new passport. I had a few worries about coming here as a solo woman but I could not have been wrong. I was originally surprised that there are so many solo travellers here but it’s actually the perfect place to be alone. Nobody pesters you that much, there’s plenty of things that you can do alone and it’s basically paradise.
I used to think that travelling alone made me look sad and weird even though my reasons for being alone were largely due to inner strength and ambition. Despite that, I was so self-conscious that I thought people were looking at me with pity when actually many tourists admire people who travel alone.
I think being in ‘holiday mode’ means people are much likely to interact with solo travellers as people have all the time in the world to chat. People are more interested in meeting people when they’re abroad in some ways. In touristic places in Asia, local people are much more used to seeing foreigners travelling alone, but in more remote areas you may be seen as more of an oddity especially as a woman.
I visited Thailand as a teenager and I was intimidated by the way I was pestered in the streets. Now, I know that if I’d been more assertive I would have been hassled less but as a young woman I was fair game. I gave myself a hard time in Thailand for being taken advantage of, but actually not many 18-year-olds have learnt to be assertive yet. Many Thai people would joke that I looked Thai which was meant to be friendly but wore thin around the 30th time of the day when I didn’t want to answer any more questions.
If you go travelling alone and you feel worried, clueless or inadequate then that is all perfectly normal. Solo travel has certainly given me assurance in my own abilities and now that I’m in my thirties my insecurities have lessened. They haven’t gone away completely but I think facing the fears of travelling in my twenties has laid the foundations for being a more confident traveller now.
I think everyone should go travelling alone, even if there are parts that you don’t enjoy it’s impossible not to learn something about yourself. There are frustrations when you get ripped off or get on the wrong bus but you learn not only to avoid making mistakes but to let them go when they do happen.
With so many other solo travellers on the scene, you stand a good chance of meeting friends for life or even romantic companionship. Even if you choose to be completely alone for your entire trip, I think that can give you the headspace you need if you have a busy life at home. Too much alone time can also be difficult so it’s important to stay in touch with people if you are ever concerned about your mental health.
The most important advice I can give you is to look after yourself, be safe and do the things that make you happy as you’re in a rare position where you have nobody else to worry about but you.