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The truth about solo travel

Solo travel?

Impossible.

We live in a world with billions of people.

8/10 people are travelling completely alone. Exactly the same as me. One rucksack and a passion to explore. Some for less then a month, and some for as long as they can.

Travelling isn’t something you do. It’s a lifestyle.

When you’re at home preparing for the day you leave, sitting on that plane travelling to the other side of the world with no one but yourself. Reality sinks in, oh shit.

Am I really doing this?

There is a difference between feeling lonely and being alone.

Despite travelling ‘alone’ I’ve not once felt lonely the entire time. If anything, I feel like I’ve made so many brilliant friends and I’m constantly surrounded by outgoing and positive people.

I’ve travelled to different cities with guys I’ve met in my room that morning. I’ve gone trekking through the jungle with someone I met in a coffee shop. I went out with 17 people in Bangkok also solo in my hostel and it felt like we all knew each other for years. I am always with people and if im not, it’s out of choice.

Lady boy cabaret night with the family. #chiangmai #cabaret #hostelliving

There is something about the nature and social side of backpackers, either solo or in a group that is pretty magical. You just start a conversation and everyone is so friendly and open. I’ve met such incredible and interesting people who I get on with so well and the best thing is, i’ll end up seeing them again. Whether it’s some random street in a different city or even in the same dorm in my hostel in a different country. It’s so easy to bump into people in the most random
places.

Traveling isn’t for everyone, especially backpacking. Like I said before, it’s a lifestyle. A way of living. It takes you out of your comfort zone and devolves certain skills you can only gain from doing such trips. Living your life, with all your belongings out of one bag.

The mindset to travel is a different game altogether. You have to overcome the fear of being too shy to say hello. You have to get over the fact you’ll sometimes eat lunch or dinner by yourself. Learn that sleeping in a dorm with 15 other people that may not speak English isn’t too bad. Or where I’m currently writing this blog, on a tiny mini van heading from Pai to Chiang Mai, North Thailand, down a mental twisted and very bumpy 3.5 hour journey squashed in the back with a girl asleep on you isn’t all that bad. So I keep trying to tell myself.

A big one for me is that you learn not to judge. Travelling solo leaves you making new friends with everyone and anyone. It’s quite strange how such an natural feeling for any human being, quite a negative quality 99% of us have, somewhat disappears. Some of us more then others but we all automatically judge. What they wear, their style, the way they walk and talk. It’s natural, we all do it. We try not too and it might not be much of an assumption but part of using are eyes and brains together is ‘judging’ someone else.

Climbed the waterfalls, smoked a J, drank a beer, slided down the waterfalls with the locals.

For me and I can see many others, while travelling solo, let this go. We don’t have time to assume or create an idea of who might be in the bed above or who’s sitting next to you on your train through Vietnam, you’re more interested in their stories, their experiences. Where have they travelled and where to next. You meet them as them, for who they are without all the excess baggage home life can string along.

Some people love being solo and others hate it but one of the best things about travelling on your own is the fact you can do whatever the hell you want. No waiting around, no taking into consideration what everyone else wants to do. As selfish as it sounds, you only have to worry about yourself and when there’s so much to do in such incredible cities it can get pretty frustrating having to wait around and miss out certain things you want to do.

There are downsides to travelling solo however situations people expressed concern about, have not been an issue. Everyone is so friendly that anytime I’ve ever needed help or wanted some kind of advice or answers, someone’s always been there. Don’t get me wrong, I realize it won’t always be like this and I won’t always find helpful people. The disadvantages can sometimes suck, even just asking someone to take a photo or keep an eye on your stuff when you go to the toilet. You just want someone’s second opinion or need some advice from someone you know never the less they are such minor things.

45p to take me to Khao San from the river taxi

Most people travelling are here to have a good time, a fun time, a positive time and a real time.

,

Backpacking, alone.

After watching the film ‘Wild’ in the cinema with a friend this evening it really got me thinking.

We are born alone, we die alone and a lot of other things in between. Some spend more time alone than others. Some out of choice, some not.

Me? Well, my parents said I was running off making friends and doing my own things from the age for 5. Chucking myself down water slides on family holidays, still going on roller coasters when others were to scared. Turning up to dance classes alone was never an issue including the classic female one, not caring about going to the toilet alone. I do prefer to be with people but being by myself doesn’t really bother me.

I have always started trips with people but been let down by them leaving. I refused to fly home so carried on alone.

When you travel alone, you’re never truly alone. There is always someone you can talk to, just make it happen.

The one reason I find people love to travel, like myself, is they find themselves. They let their imagination run free, have thoughts and dreams they don’t normally explore into. They are taken out the comfort zone and have new emotions and desires.

Being alone does not make you lonely.

 Sometimes, our mind, is our own worst enemy.




This film ‘Wild’ starring the talented Reece Wetherspoon was not what I expected. Attending a pretty regular weekly cinema routine with a good friend of mine we decided to go for this choice of film. However much it looked fascinating, it was a more of a convenient time showing. Trailer.  Recommend!

It took us on a powerful journey, 
Cheryl, a recovering drug user who
 lost her mother, with a failed marriage, take on an extraordinary 
difficult and ambitious walk. Hiking over 1,000 miles from Mexico to Canada with nothing but her backpack. It showed us the struggles of the challenging journey which
ultimately heals her.

Got me thinking..

I have never done a trip to this extent however it made me think about when I backpacked Europe. I was travelling a continent alone with just the stuff on my back.

My experience was one heck of a journey. A scary, challenging, fun and actually quite relaxing one. It came with some surprising emotions such as anger, doubt,
pleasure, calmness and reassurance. 

Long train journeys, lonely walks around cities, dining out alone and relying purely on your ideas and thoughts took me to places in my mind I had not entered before.

Walking for 8 hours around Budapest,
only had a map, blink 182 playing and
my thoughts.

Energizing, 
Empowering, 
Exhilarating, 
Eventful. 






Travelling alone is different for everyone, it is not for us all. I feel in this day and age we look at being by yourself as a bad thing. Most of us do love a bit of ‘me’ time but many depend on others company to succeed in certain things. I recieved a lot of ”So your travelling a lone!?” Funnily enough, this was from people back at home rather than others I met travelling.

I know many people who will be reading this who live by themselves, or have very independent lifestyles however I am focusing more on travelling. 

Being alone can open doors that being with a friend can’t. It’s not always the case but I have heard from many people that travelling alone leads you to meet more people. In hostels others by themselves want to meet others. I met dozens of people travelling in a group or in a couple, but for those who are tempted to do it alone. Do it. 

There are numerous ways in how to meet people. Offer to go for a drink, join a bar crawl together. I was always being invited to go along with room mates and people I talked to. 

Sometimes, I dropped my bags off and just ask who ever was in my room if they wanted to go grab a drink in the hostel bar or local. This then leads to meeting even more people. On my first night in Rome, everyone spoke to everyone. It was inspirational to see everyone getting on and talking so easily.

Arriving in Italy.
Waiting for train leaving
Florence

It can get lonely. Little things get hard. No one to give their opinion, take a photo for you. Asking them to stay with the bags while you do something.
Just somebody to chat with. 



Your bag

This is all you have. I thought packing a huge suitcase for summer was hard. Sometimes not knowing who your going to meet, types of places you will be visiting or knowing what occasion you will need to dress for. As well as packing cosmetics, products, shoes, documents and personal belonging. This all has to be carried on your back. I am 5’1 so please appreciate I am not the strongest, or tallest. I had to be extra careful what I took. 

The one thing I really want to express is how little you need. For me personally, I value my nice things. I love my good products and straighteners and clean, relatively fashionable clothes. I wanted to take everything, to feel prepared. 

Getting the right bag for you is very important. Spend time researching the correct rucksack and essentials you will need for your trip.

I remember standing up for the first time with my bag on and just falling backwards. I could not even balance. Physically I did not have the power to even stand up, let a lone walk with this bag. What was I thinking!? How the bloody hell was I going to manage. You do get used to it and learn how to balance.

The anger I felt during the trip was actually when I came home…

As happy as I was to see my beautiful friends & family, sleep in my own room in my big double bed, actually sit and watch pointless TV and have a bath.

I was annoyed at myself. Why did I have so much stuff? I walked into my room and was overwhelmed with the things I had. I was happier with a few basic clothes and some mascara and hair mousse. I come back to luxury products I had left behind, numerous pairs of different jeans and knitwear. Heaps of tops and shoes. What was wrong with me?

We all work hard and deserve to have clothes and feel as though if we want something we can aim to get it. I was gone for over a month with nothing but some basic clothes and products and was happy. I was living my life and it was brilliant.

I had felt beforehand that I needed all these things to make me happy. I still have my straighteners and I buy clothes but I have now realised that ‘things’ don’t bring happiness. I now just wear less make up, don’t go shopping anywhere as near as much. 

I feel as though travelling a lone has taught me a lot. How to socialise and communicate with people, to think less and do more which I quite enjoy. It has shown me how to adapt to situations, interact with so many different types of people. Also just how to budget, 

No one is there holding my hand and doing everything for me, I’ve got myself here and that give me such a great sense of achievement. I’ve earnt the money, I’ve planned the trip, I’m living the dream…what more could you ask for?!

– Chris Stevens

Me walking, Patras, Greece.

I would wake up asking where I wanted to go next and what I wanted to do that day, and simply went and did it.

My bed on the Ferry to Italy
Me on the train
First journey, leaving Greece… 6 am