Solo travel is perhaps one of the most exciting and daunting experiences you can undertake as a young adult. Having moved to Manchester on my own at 18 for work, I was no stranger to pushing myself out of my comfort zone, but I was still absolutely terrified before I left for my solo interrail trip.
Perhaps the biggest joy of solo travelling is being able to take things at your own pace. Whether you want to try and see as much of the city as you can in a few days or want to soak up the ambiance, being on your own allows you to tailor your itinerary to meet your needs without having to compromise. To make the most of this freedom, make sure you have an idea of a few places to hit up before you arrive in each city. I found it helpful to check travel Instagrams, websites like Lonely Planet and travel blogs. People often forget to ask their friends and family for advice on where to go when visiting common destinations – this can be a great way of learning about hidden finds away from the busy tourist areas. Always remember to leave time to just explore and have fun! Take the time to chat to people you meet – shared areas in hostels, walking tours or pub crawls can be great for this. These people can be great for recommending things to do or joining you for a few days of your travels.
One of the hardest parts of solo travelling is having no–one to look out for you. The temptation to push yourself to your limits when travelling is massive – there’s always another museum to see or another bar to visit and this culminates in the classic FOMO. Remember to take time to relax when travelling – whether this is as simple as chilling in your hostel watching Netflix or sitting in a square to people-watch. It also helps to keep in touch with friends back home who can provide support and distractions if you feel overwhelmed.
Finally, safety is key when travelling alone. Always let someone know your route if you have one planned (where you will be staying, how you plan on travelling around etc) or update someone back home every time you move on if you’re planning on freestyling it. Also take care to read up on where you’re going before hand and check the latest travel advice.
Just because you might be travelling solo doesn’t mean you have to be travelling alone. Travelling is all about the connections you make – to new places and new people you meet on your journey. If you leave yourself open to new experiences, solo travelling can be one of the most confidence building journeys you can embark on.
[Catherine Bouchard – she/her – @cat_b_99]