Adventure Santorini Greece female

Published on July 16th, 2015 | by Kara Byrne

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What It’s Really Like to Travel Solo

So, you want to know what it’s like to wander the world alone.

We don’t want to alarm you, but you need to really prepare yourself. You need to know right off the bat that it requires a few non-negotiables: A general desire for a life full of awesomeness, an open mind,  and a willingness to face challenges that will undoubtedly result in personal growth and eternal wanderlust (also known as the ‘travel bug’).

If you can stomach all that, keep reading.

On Your Own

Female at sunset on Canada beach

On your own does not have to mean alone. Think about it this way: when you tell someone you did something on your own, you’re likely claiming it to be an accomplishment. You built a coffee table on your own, you cooked Christmas dinner on your own,  you drove all the way to California on your own, not alone… that just sounds a little sad. 

Here’s what on your own really means:

On Your Own Budget

female, beach, solo travel

Your style of travel often determines how much you’ll spend on your trip (or vice versa). If you have a limited budget or a nearly never-ending one to see the world with, a travel partner can end up dictating what you do and how do it if their budget does not match yours.

One of the best ways to make your adventure fund go further is to take a tour. This is the perfect option for those who want to travel on their own (not alone), and we promise you won’t be saving a few dollars in exchange for being herded like cattle through different destinations. Companies like Intrepid Travel offer different styles of travel for different budgets, while never losing sight of the most important thing about your trip: the experience. Because the guides are local, you’ll have a unique and authentic experience that will likely exceed your expectations.

On Your Own Time

Girl on mountain with camera

Travelling by yourself not only determines the flexibility of your budget, but your schedule as well. There will be no need to rush through breakfast to to beat the line at the museum, no need stay up late or get up early if you don’t want to, and no reason to end your trip if you’re not ready to.

If you’re taking a tour,  you really, really won’t have to worry about making the most of your time in destination; your guide will do that for you. With the spare time that you’re given to explore on your own, you really will explore on your own. 

On your own time can also mean in your own time.

If you need an extra 10 seconds to get that perfect shot, no one is tapping their foot behind you. If you make friends and travelling on your own turns into travelling with the coolest people you’ve ever met, no one is there to stop you. If you fall madly in love with a foreigner and ‘miss’ your flight back home, no one is there to judge you… until you call Mom (for that, you are also on your own).

On Your Own Terms

West coast trail Canada hiker

Choosing to become a solo explorer means not knowing what you want, and figuring it out on your own. It means making decisions, hard ones. It means being accountable when things go wrong and extremely proud when everything goes right. It means being willing to try, accepting new people and new cultures, and leaving the fear of failure at home. It means being brave enough to stand up and say, “I’m doing this my way.” It means taking the Intrepid approach to travel.

It might seem scary to take off on a solo adventure, but you’ll soon find that the worst part is not having someone you trust to watch your bags when you can’t fit them into the stall with you in the public washroom. What’s the best part? The moment you return home from your adventure and you realize travelling on your own terms has taught you to live life on your own terms. That is what it’s really like to travel solo.

Ready to explore the world on your own for the first time? A small group tour is the perfect way to start! 

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About the Author

Kara Byrne

is the Content and Social Media Manager for Flight Centre Canada. She is passionate about travelling the world and capturing all of her adventures along the way.



3 Responses to What It’s Really Like to Travel Solo

  1. Kay says:

    Thank you for this article. Traveling alone is something I’m currently investigating and I will say, it’s a tad intimidating. What would you say is the hardest part of traveling alone?

    • The hardest part of deciding to travel alone for me was the fear of actually “being alone”! I’m not a person who normally strikes up a conversation with complete strangers but I also love to be around people in general, and this made me nervous. My first solo trip I did an Intrepid Travel tour in Italy. I opted to have a roommate assigned and not pay to have a room to myself – in the end she became an amazing friend! My tour leader as well was exceptional, and when I did go to different museums or restaurants by myself – I had his cell phone to text if I got lost, etc. I did have some days before and after my tour on my own, and it is amazing how you can bond with complete strangers over something as simple as trying to order coffee and croissants in a different language or trying to get pictures of yourselves in front of the Colosseum.

      To me a tour was the best way to start traveling solo, and it took away the anxiety of traveling by myself! Hope this helps!

    • Gloria Kim says:

      Hey Kay,
      I’ve backpacked alone through most of South East Asia and recently moved back to Toronto after moving to Costa Rica for 6 months. The hardest part of traveling alone in both those instances was the anxiety BEFORE getting to the destination. I’m naturally someone who likes to know what my day will look like and to get the most out of my time in any given location. Before I left both times, I stressed a lot about trying to figure out what to do and if I was going to be able to do it on my own.

      In both instances, what I ended up doing instead was choosing an activity I wanted to learn. For instance, I was sitting in Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam completely stressed out as to where I was suppose to go next. Instead of freaking out, I took a deep breath and asked myself “what’s the one thing you’ve always wanted to learn how to do?” The answer was Scuba Diving.

      I asked a few people I had met along the way if they had dived in South East Asia and everybody told me the ‘go-to’ place was Koh Tao in Thailand. Then off I went! I met AMAZING people in Koh Tao (fellow solo travelers who wanted to learn how to dive and instructors) and ended up staying there for a month.

      This past time I chose to learn how to surf and wanted to visit Costa Rica. That led me to Santa Teresa and within a day of arriving, I became fast friends with the locals through surf lessons and watching hockey games at the local bar.

      My recommendation to get rid of that anxiety of what to do when you get somewhere, especially if you’re traveling alone, is to pick a hobby you’ve always wanted to try and then pick a destination. It puts your mind at ease because you have something to focus on and the friends follow quite quickly 🙂

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