I’ve come to the conclusion that there is not enough honesty in terms of solo travelling on a whole.
For a very spontaneous, exposed moment, I want to open up to you about my personal experiences.
I wanted this post to be a reflection of some of the lows I have endured during my 2 month madness drive around the beautiful country of New Zealand, which, with the entire country’s population of 5 million, can feel like quite a lonely place from time to time.
Though the people will mostly be warm and welcoming where-ever you go in the world, and you will make more exquisite memories filled with joy and belly aching laughter, than you will ever experience the upset and distress, solo travelling is not for the weak hearted.
I’ve never been so lonely in the sense that I am travelling exclusively and completely detached from anything or anyone to worry about besides myself.
- So, that’s where I will start, being alone when all you want to do is meet new people and make new friends.
How the hell did we do it so causally and effortlessly when we were little? Trying to meet people and build a natural, life-long friendship with someone is probably one of the most difficult things, not only when you travel, but generally when you’re an adult, especially when you really want it to happen.
It needs to be a totally effortless experience, as you can’t force someone to like you and nor can they force you to want to spend time with them.
I’m realising that this is okay and the more I’ve travelled the more my perception of friendship has changed.
I used to think the friends I had back home where the only ones I would ever need to have in my life, for a small handful that is completely true as I adore them with my entire soul and wouldn’t want my life without them. But before I came out here, I lost a few friends on the basis of my break up.
Since travelling, I’ve become fully awakened in that sometimes you do lose people and that being the way the world works occasionally, it is normal to experience this.
So, having had this experience only heightened me to question if due to turmoil friendships I’d given up on prior to travelling, was it me that was the problem when finding it difficult to meet new people?
I wanted to travel alone, so perhaps I was a little naïve to not filter in that feeling lonely and a little lost would be such a huge part of the solo package.
But sometimes, I just can’t help but wonder if it’s me that is causing delay in having the same situation as what everyone explains they have had, or if they only like to remember the really enjoyable moments of their travelling and that’s all I’ve had re-laid to me.
So, that was the first thing I encountered as a shock to the system when solo travelling, I was set and ready to meet so many amazing people, like I was promised by fellow travellers, to find out that sometimes, it’s actually quite sparse. But with that you learn quickly who is worth meeting and socialising with and accept that occasionally, you don’t meet a lot of people at all, and either way is okay.
The whole purpose of travelling is to allow yourself time to think and adapt to what you want now, every-day from now towards the future. Once you get over the small hurdle of knowing you won’t be with new friends every-day, you begin to let go of the desire to be needed and that allows fresh opportunity to make some really beneficial friends along the way when the time is right.
2. For the duration of your solo travels, you’ll realise things about yourself that you wish you had never had the time to learn. ( Like how bad my yoga stance looks in comparison to how flexible and bad ass it makes me feel. )
I’ve recently learnt I’m not always the extrovert I am back home, with absolutely no fear of talking to strangers or starting the party and effortlessly becoming a joker of the group – I have another side of me that only sometimes is timid, shy and too terrified to speak to the group of people having a drink on the next table, in complete fear that they will reject my plea for joining in on their evening, resulting in me being humiliated and looking desperate.
So, I sometimes stick to myself with the fear that who I am back home is unknown and inadequate when away from all your familiar friends.
I don’t want to be that person, but when you’re alone, you have no voices beside you to cheer you on through the difficult comfort zone tasks you’re not used to tackling independently.
I also began to realise that I can be a little more selfish within how I decipher things for purely me, maybe that’s because I had pushed through being lonely and snuggled into the surroundings of this trip being for me, but I have found my instant need to want to sort other people out first and give them all the solutions over what I need has calmed down a little. I simply have found space to allow people to just make their own mistakes and move through it themselves without question, something I would have not focused on with friends back home.
3. Some days are boring and make you question why you travelled to a certain part of the country, historic view or general destination.
I have even gone to see something that’s quoted to be a “prodigious spectacle of the world” to turn up and be slightly disappointed with how it made me feel or how it looked in comparison to the expectation I had in mind. Where-as I feel with friends or other people involved with your journey there, you are able to have more time to appreciate it because you bounce off other people’s opinions and feelings.
With no one to be there to share the beautiful sights and experiences to help keep that moment majestic, you feel that some were worthless to go and see, so you have to constantly keep reminding yourself that you are so lucky and to not take your surroundings for granted.
4. The roads are long and the days on the road are sometimes really long, especially when you’re driving your own vehicle.
You instantly love the idea of travelling with your own transportation solo, but a few weeks in it becomes a chore.
When you find it difficult to pick people up you can be left with your own company and attempted bemusement for hours of a journey. You can look at the landscape backdrop you thought was incredible a few days ago, but now you’re taking it for granted as you are bored of driving and just want to reach your destination.
5. Petrol costs a bomb, with no one to share the cut of costs with, you end up realising that all the astounding mileage you’re doing is really eating into your pocket. Many people do find a travelling buddy to partner up with for a couple of days or luckily a few weeks, and that’s amazing, you can definitely cut the cost in half for food and gas without question. But when you aren’t so fortunate to find a reliable candidate for this position, you have to suck it up and dip into your savings constantly.
6. Sun tan lotion… you burn your back… a lot.
Killer advice that would help more than anything in a none ozone layer country, would be to buy the invisible spray sunscreen, that way you just go nuts with it and don’t have to create this twitchy chicken dance of slapping your hands all over your back, nor do you have to find a suitable person to ask, who wouldn’t be concerned or question your motives. ( i.e, don’t ask men who are with their girlfriends on the beach, or sometimes even the girlfriends as you never know what they might be wanting to introduce in order to spice up their love life.) Go for the middle aged mums who are slapping factor 50 on their pastey young kids…that way you know you won’t have to do it for a few days.
7. When you think its possibly going to turn into a bad choice, don’t go with it. Having only your senses you always need to be on the ball!
So, if it’s something as silly as, yes, youre travelling New Zealand for 2 months living in a car, buy a goddamn food cooler for the extra $50 so you can have something other than tuna pasta or chickpeas in pesto, listen to that niggle in the back of your mind.
To the obvious (but when in the moment,) not so obvious, walking home at night in the dark after a few drinks, just remember, you are in a village, city, or overall country that you don’t know every well and you don’t know many people in it.
Keep your wits about you at all times.
8. Eating out-
I don’t have any quarms with eating out.
I love other people cooking as I don’t do food much justice when I attempt to cook, unless… its carbonara.
Just prepare yourself for the “ is it just yourself”, with a slight sympathetic hesitation to the question.
I began going out and having that question fired at me when asking for a table, it resulted in me instantly feeling like the elephant in the corner of the restaurant, I was conscious that everyone was looking at me and aware I was alone. But now, I really couldn’t give a damn.
If I want to head out and eat some lovely food, I take a book or catch up on a phone call with my sister or mum before I eat. I see it as time to catch up on the odd bits and bobs I haven’t had 5 minutes to do.
Most often however, I make a point of putting my phone away, unless I’m in the mood to blog, write or chat, because it makes room for people to introduce themselves and join in on your evening.
9. When youre poorly, regardless of how old you are, you will always crave a mummy hug. I hate being ill anyway, as I hate wasting days away and feeling incompetent, but, I was recently ill in Dunedin at a friends house and whilst she worked during the day, it was the first time I felt a little homesick. I missed someone fussing me and my mum taking care of me. That could just be more so something I dread of solo travelling as I am super close with my mum and very much a mummy’s girl, as you might be able to tell, but with no home comforts and the familiar dependancy lacking makes the process a lot more self-wallowing.
Overall…I can’t help but feel a slight amount of upset when I see a couple fighting or just when they hold a disponant expression splashed across their faces- indicating an obvious dispute. I feel sad that some of their memories will be negative, but a ray of contentment washes over me, because it’s a reminder that I’m so glad I didn’t travel with someone I love.
Travelling is famous for a make it or break it situation between two people, and that doesn’t just mean of your intimate relationship. If you travel with friends, family or partners you will find differences, you will have debates and you will learn very quickly you have to compromise. Constantly sharing and evoling together can often push people apart, so when I see people arguing im not happy they are going through that pain at all, but it’s a simple reminder as to why I chose to travel solo.
You have the power to take your time somewhere and really let it settle in, you can nestle somewhere for more than a day if you really love it or you can up and leave it within a few hours if you don’t. You eat when you want, you can nap whenever you want, you explore whatever you want, you can take a swim when you want, you can book up whatever you want, and you are always engaging with new people because you have no safety net of anyone else to hold you back.
This wasn’t written to scare anyone about all the reasons you shouldn’t travel alone. I 100% promote solo travelling and I truly feel everyone should travel independantly at a time in their life, whether that is for a day break, weekend away or a full on few months. I just wanted to declare the other side of what it can be like as not everyone tends to venture into explaining the negatives which create the overall balance of travelling.
Looking back over the low moments i’ve had, I actually believe they are just as positive in comparison to the highs, they haven’t felt it at the time, but with my overall 2 months almost up I am so grateful I travelled alone. Even with the wobbly patches of feeling unsure, lost and homesick, within a couple of days a lesson is learnt and I always revert back to feeling gifted and grateful once the hazey storm of negativity passes.