Get Uncomfortable: Travelling Alone

We’ve all been there, you want to go check out X country but it’s impossible to find a time that works with your friends’ schedules so you can all go together. The initial thought of travelling alone in a completely foreign place sounds ludicrous, but then you start hearing that many other people do it you think… maybe it’s not that crazy? And it isn’t! I think it’s an amazing experience that I think everyone should try at least once.

Sections:

My story – Europe on Impulse

I had never been a big traveller, I only went on a couple trips within North America in University and to Cuba for a week after I had started working. I was always of the mindset that it’s not what you do, it’s who you do it with, so I’d rather stay in Toronto and hangout with the crew than go to Europe alone. I still believe in that concept, but I’ve realized the who you do it with can just be yourself too.

I had just left my job at Facebook and negotiated to have two weeks off before my next job at Kobo. One thing I learned from colleagues at Facebook was the value of traveling and getting perspectives about different places and cultures (on top of having an awesome time). Thus, when I was faced with the choice of lounging around for two weeks or travelling somewhere last minute I decided to just go for it and see how it went.

I asked a bunch of friends to see if anyone would be down but since it was so last minute no one was available. The only option at that point was to go alone or not go at all. I started reading up on it and realized how many people travel alone around the world (a lot), and how every single one of them have an amazing time doing it. Thus, I said ‘F it, let’s do this.

I chatted with all my friends who had gone to Europe, picked a route of cities I wanted to hit, and then just booked a round trip flight to Amsterdam. This was about a week and a half before the flight date. Unfortunately, this was last minute and during high season so my ticket was quite expensive.

I went into hardcore research and planning mode, learning everything I could about cities, how much time I wanted to spend in each, flights between cities, hostels to book, transit within cities, tickets to buy in advance etc. etc. It was a lot of work. Please ask me if you want more details about how I went about all this.

I went to Europe and it was amazing. I could do whatever I want, whenever I wanted. I didn’t need to care about anyone but MYSELF 😀.  Got to a museum and not that into? Just leave! Also, I didn’t get robbed, mugged or kidnapped if you were wondering. I thought I’d get really lonely but found tons of other travellers from around the world that I hungout with. I wasn’t tied to them though, so when I wanted to do my own thing I just split. I got a lot of time to just reflect and think about shit, it was amazing. One day I’d like to do it again 🙂

amsterdam-friends
New friends in Amsterdam!
barcelona-meal
Binge eating alone! 😀
barcelona-partying
The night I had… too much fun…
eiffel-tower
View from the bottom #EiffelTower
berlin-friends
Berlin Crew!
barcelona-castle
Sagrada Familia!

Excuses you will make, and how to deal with them

1. It’s dangerous

Don’t be stupid, and you’ll be fine. Yes, I was paranoid of getting kidnapped or mugged everywhere I went in Europe at first, hiding everything I owned in hidden crevices of my clothes to look like I had nothing of value. After being there for a while you realize you can act like a normal human being and not have crimes committed against you too. For the two weeks there I felt quite safe and had a crime free experience 🙂 Don’t do stupid things like hangout in rough neighborhoods at night or flaunt around your gold chains and you’ll be okay! Don’t act like a target and you won’t be a target. I met tons of solo travellers, guys AND girls, and they all had similar experiences. I usually hear this concern from girls and I’m not a girl so I obviously cannot completely empathize, but at worst case just don’t stay out after it gets dark or meet fellow travellers in your hostel / walking tours to go out at night with.

2. I’m going to be lonely

You will feel lonely sometimes. Sometimes you’ll want to go to a fancy restaurant and feel weird just going there to eat alone. You will learn to enjoy the experiences just the same by yourself instead and gain more confidence and independence as an individual. The advantage of being able to do whatever you want on your own schedule far outweighs this disadvantage.

On top of that, there are SO MANY solo and non-solo travellers you will meet on your trip at your hostels and on free walking tours. You’ll get to hangout with all these people from everywhere in the world and get some really unique experiences from it. Who knows, you might even build some long-lasting friendships! When you’re with a big group of friends it’s actually much harder to meet these other people cause you just want to do your own thing in your group.

The question that makes it obvious

Should you travel alone and have an amazing and safe time, or miss out on this completely awesome unique experience?

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