For the past eight days I’ve been exploring Bali with a friend and three of her friends, who I now count as new friends and some of the coolest people I’ve ever met. In those eight days we did pretty much everything together and after travelling for so long on my own it was awesome to be travelling with a group of friends again. Riding scooters around Uluwatu, Bingin and Padang Padang, enjoying epic sunset Bintangs – it just wouldn’t have been the same if I did those things on my own!
I’m now back to being my own wingwoman and in the days leading up to the girls’ departure I was feeling pretty apprehensive about going solo again. However, I soon kicked those thoughts in the butt and reminded myself why I love to travel solo. It’s not always rainbows and fairy dust, there can be some seriously trying moments and that’s why I present to you the good and not so good side of travelling solo!
- You have the freedom to do whatever you want! Where you go, when you want to go, what you do – it’s all up to you. What time you wake up, when you workout, when you eat, where to eat; and if you want to spend hours in a café enjoying the fast free wifi, writing a blog and eating delicious food, you can. Win!
- You are forced to push yourself out of your comfort zone. You don’t have a choice but to talk to strangers, you will have to eat in restaurants by yourself and you will learn to love doing these things. Yes, you will encounter some weirdos but it’s all part of the experience. Being on your own
- You will meet different types of people and personalities you wouldn’t usually associate with back home purely because back home you stay within your bubble of friends and friends of friends. In my travels I’ve met a 50 + year old American guy who has backpacked his entire life, a 40+ year old lady who works for the BBC and is on assignment in Afghanistan, and countless sustainability students who study and travel abroad. These strangers are just a handful of the people I’ve encountered but whose stories have stuck with me and helped me along the way.
- You learn to be happy in your own company. You’re alone but not lonely and it’s totally ok. Being on your own a lot can make you think about too much rubbish and you learn to deal with it. I used to get myself in a panic wondering if I was doing the right thing (spending all my money on travel instead of investing) and where my life was headed. To get through times like this I either listen to music (the happy dancy kind, not the emo kind), do a quick workout session or go for a walk through whatever city / town I’m in. It might seems like such an effort when you’re feeling really down but once you’re up and moving you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.
- Things become more expensive! There’s no one to split the bill with and accommodation and taxi fares cost twice as much. But in saying that you can almost always overcome these obstacles by staying in hostels or catching a scooter instead of a taxi (in Bali anyway). Or you could turn the expensive accommodation into a treat, like I have done here in Ubud, and just enjoy it instead of worrying about cost. It just means cutting back on other luxuries and you might need to spend a few nights sleeping on the streets once you’ve checked out. Just kidding.
- Asking strangers to take a photo of you and the spectacular background scenery can be frustrating…for me anyway. I’m very particular about the way I take photos and if I even attempted to start explaining how I want the photo taken the stranger would probably throw my camera at my head and run away. Instead, suck it up, ask them to take a couple of shots and be grateful you were even able to get a photo at all.
- Sometimes there are moments you wish you could share with other people but instead you’ll have to make do with telling them all about it over the phone.
- Being a solo female traveller can be a little daunting at night. If I’m in busy places I feel ok but walking home (or even getting into a taxi) on my own can be scary and I start to think back to episodes of Criminal Minds and Law & Order: SVU. Not cool! Just be sure to not tell overly friendly men that you’re travelling on your own and mention you’re off to meet friends. Don’t make yourself an easy target like I’ve done once before and end up being followed by two car loads of guys who try to corner you in a street.
Some of you say I’m brave for doing what I do and just winging it but as I always say, if I can do this anyone can. You might actually surprise yourself!