If you follow me on social media – you can probably tell that I LOVE to travel.
I’ve been receiving a lot of questions from friends and family about my traveling experience so I figured I’d share it with everyone.
One of the things I’ve tried recently is Solo travel and I want to tell you all the reasons why I am a huge proponent of it!
So let’s go through all the myths about solo travel in the U.S. so that you can get my take on what it’s really like:
“But solo travel isn’t safe….”
This is a common myth. Is there safety in numbers? Yes. But, as long as you follow basic safety precautions: i.e. remaining aware of your surroundings, walking in well lit areas when you’re out at night etc. you should be fine.
“Especially if you’re a female….
As a female solo traveler, I felt as though I’d be the most vulnerable to unsafe scenarios. Traveling as male means facing less gender inequality related issues. But I’ve found that as a female solo traveler I haven’t had an experience where I’ve felt unsafe. For me the key has really just to be responsible. Also, just because you travel alone it doesn’t mean you have to go out alone once you’re in the country of your choice. In other words, there are plenty of places where you’ll naturally run into and can potentially meet people. I almost always go out with someone I meet abroad.
If you’re solo traveling I recommend staying in a hostel. It is a great way to meet other solo travelers from different countries. Most hostels have younger solo travelers passing through as the price per room tends to appeal to this audience.
If you’ve never stayed at a hostel before and want to find one that is particularly “social” I recommend visiting hostelworld.com and reading reviews to figure out which environment best suits you. There are a ton of hostels that have completely female dorms if you are worried about sharing a bedroom with guys.
I also recommend going on tours – if your hostel isn’t the “party type” or for whatever reason doesn’t have a lot of other solo travelers staying there than the next best way to meet people to wander the city with is to book a tour. Many times when you plan an excursion of some sort you are taken to the activity in a group. The host of the excursion wants you to have a good time and will often introduce you to other people in the group or will host ice breakers so that this organically happens. In short, the best way to stay safe is to go out with people you meet and trust.
“Solo travel is unsanitary … I don’t want to bring home any bed bugs …”
I have to admit for someone who was used to booking hotels, and staying in resorts the idea of staying in a room with ten other people concerned me. Actually, it kind of grossed me out. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to swing it.But I’ve found the key to avoiding dirty hostels is to do your research. Read reviews and rely on word of mouth. I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid dirty hostels this way.
Recently, I stayed in a hostel in Barcelona and I have to say it was one of the cleanest hostels I’ve ever experienced. The hostel had a few employees that cleaned daily. I even stayed in a hostel with no air conditioning in Asia! This was something that felt like a huge accomplishment at the time because it was one of those amenities I didn’t think I could live without – especially in 90 degree weather. BUT, I must say while it had a minimalist feel, the hostel felt very clean.
If you’re still feeling uncomfortable about sleeping in a hostel, I challenge you to think about an environment you may feel is more relatable: college. I would compare hostels (the good/clean kind) to college dorms. We don’t expect THAT much from college dorms (despite how much we pay for them in tuition). Most colleges provide a twin sized cot. Also, many college dorms have communal bathrooms. I found staying in a hostel to be very similar to this experience. Yes, you share a room with a stranger, but you do that in college too, don’t you?
If you’re STILL uncomfortable with the communal experience, some hostels do offer single dorms, which essentially allows you to still experience a lot of the benefits (i.e. you can meet other people in the common areas) but have your own personal space.
“Traveling alone – isn’t that boring? Don’t you get lonely?”
If you are social at ALL and open to saying “hi”, you WILL meet people.
One thing that I learned from solo traveling is there is a whole community of solo travelers out there. As I mentioned before, the solo traveling experience kind of reminds me of college. Everyone is so excited to be there that the majority of them are open and friendly and willing to tell you stories about their travel experiences, like the first weekend in college. I’ve rarely felt lonely or bored.
Another great benefit is that you meet people from different countries and then you create a network of friends around the world. This leads to more and more traveling as you want to plan more trips to stay in touch with or visit the people you meet.
The best thing is that when you meet people from different countries, most of them offer to host you or show you around their hometowns! Talk about a way to save money on traveling!