Traveling solo was always a life goal of mine. I romanticized the idea of packing a bag and going somewhere I’d never been and surrounding myself with faces I’ve never seen. So I did it.
In the middle of my Europe trip, I decided to venture off to Barcelona for 7 nights alone. I stayed at the hostel Urbany BCN GO which was within walking distance to everything I’d need. There, I made friends who to this day am still in touch with and had the best time of my life with them. I went to Sonar Music Festival, alone, and again, had the BEST time of my life.
But I learned a lot more about myself than I ever thought I would. It wasn’t until returning back home and reflecting on my trip (after being told by friends that I seemed a little different) that I realized this trip had become part of my identity. The things that I describe here aren’t something you learn one and are finished with. They are skills that you can continue to improve on every day for the rest of your life. So here we have it!
Your life. Your rules.
This was the BEST part about traveling alone. If I woke up and felt like going to the beach, guess what? I went to the beach! If I later decided I wanted to go to Las Ramblas for lunch, guess where I had lunch? Las Ramblas! That evening, if I wanted to go to Pacha to see a DJ, I could do it! If I decided I was too tired, guess what? I’d sleep! I didn’t have friends or a boyfriend or my family influencing my decisions. I would meet with my fellow hostel guests, learn who wanted to do the same things as I, and then make an adventure out of it.
Believe me. Traveling with people after having the freedom that comes with being solo is tough.
You’re going to have to step outside of your comfort zone. You’re going to have to put yourself out there to meet people. Spending alone time is great too, but it is important and rewarding to make friends along the way. Try staying in a hostel!
Hostels are great environments for meeting fellow travelers. In fact, I met many solo female travelers in my hostel and am still great friends with them! Rest assured, it is possible and in fact easy to make friends in hostels.
Most people are likely in the same boat as you and are very willing and open to meet new people. Take advantage of this opportunity and be bold!
Keep a cool head.
So yeah, there are some issues with safety that come about from traveling alone. You don’t have anyone there to watch out for you or your things when you get too drunk. There is quite a bit of responsibility that comes along with traveling alone. That means being aware of yourself and your belongings at all times.
The main issue I came across was theft. Pickpocketing. Getting too drunk, passing out on the street, and waking up with your pockets empty. That kind of thing. (No, I wasn’t the one passed on the street in Barcelona, but I did meet someone who had this happen to them…).
Just be smart, so:
– avoid getting blackout drunk (generally a good thing to avoid anyway)
– have a hostel buddy who you go out with
– tell friends/family where you’re going before you go
Vigilance has never done anyone harm.
Embrace your identity.
This is one of those times in your life where you can let down ALL expectations from everyone and completely embrace who you are. You no longer have to play the role of employee or student or whatever you may do back at home. Here, you can embrace the sides of you that you’re sometimes restricted from showing while you’re busy playing your part in the real world. When traveling solo, you’re completely allowed to let your hair down and do things that make you happy. No more suit and tie.
So take advantage of this time. Do that cliff jump, try that crazy food dish or go to that strange club. No one here is judging you because no one here knows who you are anyway! Win-win!
If ever given the opportunity to travel solo again, I would jump at it. I discovered more about myself than ever before and felt like a flourished around new people, places and things to do. I highly recommend taking a trip solo, so come up with a plan! Pick a place! And start saving!