One of the most discomforting things about setting off on a digital nomad journey is traveling alone. Many chose to do it as a couple, or with friends, but for most a solo trip is required, and that can be stressful and awkward. I remember worrying about meeting people, getting lost, and how I could possibly sit down to eat by myself in a restaurnat. Those fears are natural and rational, but some things are more important than fear, and if you really want to travel solo, you should do it. There are many benefits to traveling alone, and I’ll certainly write an article about that too. For now, I just want to talk about how I got comfortable with solo travel:
The best advice I can give you is to start traveling solo in your own country, or even in your own city. Visit a museum, a restaurant, or a bar alone, get used to the feeling and learn that it’s not that uncommon and that no one really cares. When I was younger, I used to have debilitating social anxiety, to the point of being scared to go up to a bank teller and ask them something. That changed with time, in no small part thanks to the fact that I pushed myself to have interactions with strangers, even when finding those things uncomfortable and unnatural. I’m still not at the point where I can begin a conversation with a total stranger at the gas station, but I am improving and this can be applied to traveling solo. Think about the things that make you feel uncomfortable about traveling by yourself and try to tackle them one by one, at home.
Most people that I have talked to will come up with a bunch of small and mildly awkward situations that they see themselves in when traveling alone and allow that to stop them from visiting a new location. The truth is that these things are just in your head, most people go on with their day and will hardly pay any attention to you and what you’re doing. Once you get yourself to leave and set foot in the new destination all of the fears and anxieties will wither away and all that will be left is the excitement of travel.
Stock up on enternatinment
This will be different depending on where you chose to go and what your plan is, but if you want to wander around some city or hike, having some entertainment with you will be a great idea. What I mean by that is either make sure you have access to the internet, or stock up on audiobooks, podcasts, and music. There is nothing better than listening to a book about ancient Rome while walking around the ruins of the Roman Forum and the right tunes can take your hiking trip to another level. While you can always download the things you listen to regularly, it is an amazing opportunity to travel and learn, as well as associate a time and place with a special book or music. It requires a bit of research and preparation, in order to find a really good book or podcast to listen to, but it can add a lot of charm, knowledge, and entertainment to your trip. One of the little talked about aspects of traveling is the commuting and boring stuff, which when solo can be excruciatingly monotonous. Sitting around in a bus for 3 hours with nothing to do and no one to talk to is horrible, but add a fun podcast to the mix and it becomes bearable.
Another thing to consider bringing along is a board game, like “cards against humanity”. While not my favorite pastime, it is an easy ice breaker, and whipping one of those out in a hostel lobby can quickly get you acquainted with your fellow travelers and possibly turn the solo trip into a shared one. It is important to not just have your headphones in and walk around in silence, travel is a great opportunity to meet new people and explore with them.
Ask others about it
One of the things that made me want to travel by myself was realizing that I was way behind the curve. After doing some asking, I found out that many of my friends had already embarked on solo trips and really enjoyed them, this not only encouraged me to do it but was also helpful as I got some useful tips. While articles like this one, Reddit threads, and YouTube videos can tell you a lot about solo travel and give you specific tips about destinations, there is nothing better than talking to someone you know and trust about their experiences. My friends have suggested to me great hostels, places to eat at, bars, and cool sights that not everyone knows about. Traveling on your own is getting more and more popular, as people realize that you can book a plane ticket and a hotel on your phone for not too much money. The days of organized group travel and large family trips are fading and some people got on the backpacking/solo travel train much quicker than the rest of us. These people have some great tips and more importantly encouragement, so make sure to ask around your friend circle, you might be surprised at how common it is for people to travel alone these days.
Go to the right places
I want to leave with the best advice. At the end of the day, some places are more fun than others and you need to make sure you go to the right spots if traveling alone. New York can be an amazing solo trip, but so can be a hike in Iceland, it depends on you and your mindset, but you need to think about the place you go to and the experience you want beforehand, and you want to do some research. If you aim at having a fun, party, and alcohol-filled trip then going from hostel to hostel in Budapest, Prague, and Berlin sounds like a great idea, while Greenland might be a bit on the slower side. Besides the destination, you need to think about the itinerary and housing. Hostels are great for meeting cool and young people but can be too much if you spent all day walking around and need to wake up early tomorrow for a whale watching tour.
Seasonality is another thing to consider. Southeast Asia has its rain seasons, Spain can be insanely hot in August and Denmark is dark, cold, and rainy in winter. Remember that if you are traveling far away the temperatures and climates might be significantly different and that some resort towns are completely deserted in off months. Again, do some research on where you’re going and your solo trip will improve significantly.