Have you ever traveled solo?
I love traveling. I mostly like traveling by myself – called ‘solo traveling.’ I have traveled solo in countries in Asia, Europe, North America and South America.
People often ask me why I like solo traveling.
“Aren’t you afraid?”
“Don’t you get lonely?”
Back in my home country of Indonesia, it is not common for a female to travel by herself. My first time traveling abroad alone was in 2010. When I told my mom about my plans to travel around Europe by myself, she was worried.
“What if you get lost? Who is going to help you?” my mom asked.
I had to convince her that I had planned everything ahead and I was going to be fine. I left her contacts and addresses of my friends in Europe so she would know where I was going to stay during the trip.
I traveled around Europe that winter for 18 days. I visited six countries – the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden. I saw the Eiffel Tower and – for the first time in my life – snow!
I like to travel alone because it can be hard to find travel buddies with the same interests and schedules as me. I thought that if I just waited around for someone to travel with me, I might never actually go to the places that I wanted to visit.
In 2012, for instance, I decided to travel to the United Kingdom to watch my favorite soccer team, Manchester United, play. I actually asked some friends to travel with me, but they were unsure whether they could go or not. Since I was tired of waiting for them, I decided to go to the U.K. by myself. I was able to watch two MU games at Old Trafford, tour around the stadium and even have a look inside the players’ locker room.
Another reason why I like solo traveling is that I can plan my own itineraries without depending on other people. I can also set my own pace — meaning I can walk fast or slowly without having to wait for someone, or have them wait for me.
I have never felt lonely while traveling solo, because I always meet other travelers from around the globe. We travelers help each other out. When I traveled to Peru in 2014, for instance, a traveler from Iceland gave me mosquito repellent when I was about to go to the Amazon Jungle. The mosquito repellent is useful to prevent mosquito bites. An Argentinean and a Singaporean also kindly took me to the bus stop in Lima when I was about to take a bus at night. A year later, I still keep in touch with the people I met while traveling.
I also write about my travel adventures. So far, I have published two travel books based on my trips around Europe.
My mom no longer worries when I travel by myself. She knows that I can take care of myself. Now when I tell her that I have travel plans, she says, “You will travel alone? Take care!”
Here are some tips on how to travel safely as a solo traveler:
- Keep emergency contacts and addresses, such as the embassy of your country, the police, hospitals, relatives and friends.
- Make copies of your travel documents like passports and keep them in different places. It is also always good to save them on a flash drive and also email them to your family members.
- Avoid carrying electronic devices like cellphones on your hands while walking around the streets, in the crowds or public transports. Also avoid listening music through earphones while walking around. It might decrease your awareness.
- Avoid walking alone in dark alleys at night. This might sound like a cliché, but it is better to be safe than sorry. I always try to get back to my hostel before 9 p.m. for safety reasons.
- If you get lost, ask somebody who you can trust, like officials at a tourist information center.
- Trust your feelings. If somebody asks you to go somewhere, but you don’t know if you can trust him/her, then just don’t go.
What do you think about solo traveling? Have you ever traveled abroad alone?
Words in This Blog
travel buddies – n. someone to travel with
mosquito repellent – n. a substance that keeps mosquito away
flash drive – n. data storage device
alleys – n. narrow streets
cliché – n. something that is commonly used in books, stories, etc.
hostel – n. an inexpensive place to stay for travelers