Traveling alone is becoming more and more common, but it wasn’t the case when I first set foot in Peru, 7 years ago.
Young, unexperienced and alone. First time outside of Europe. But thank God for Peruvian friends who helped me along the way!
At first I was apprehensive about traveling alone but my itchy feet, my hunger for new places and cultures and my obsession with Peru had the best of me, so I decided to go for it.
Here are some considerations and a few questions I have asked myself, or that other people have asked me, regarding solo traveling:
1.Why don’t you find a friend to go with you?
Well I tried to. But no one was as desperate as I was to travel. And the plane ticket was rather expensive. So I got to the point where I realized I either go alone or not go at all. So gave it a try, I liked it, and I decided I want to do it again.
2. Isn’t it dangerous to travel alone?
Not if you use common sense – which I lack sometimes.
Yes, I was threatened in one occasion and got assaulted by a gang in another. However, that’s not too bad, considering that I travel a lot. There could have been many more unpleasant situations.
I do believe that traveling with another person, or with a group, can be safer, yet as a tourists you can still be a target. So use common sense anyway.
3. Traveling solo is a Western thing
It is, to a large extent. Western culture is very (way too?) individualistic and the majority of solo travelers come from a Western background.
Sometimes when you travel to countries that place a high value on community, people might think there’s something wrong with you for choosing to visit their country alone. I’ve seen people raise eyebrows or tell me I am crazy when I told them I’m by my own. Don’t be too surprised if someone comes up with phrases like “Why? You no have friends?”. Just smile and embrace diversity!
4. Traveling solo is weird
That’s what I thought before I went on my first solo trip. But then I realized it can actually be a very pleasant and fulfilling experience. And as I said, it is getting more and more common, so people are getting used to it – at least in the West.
And thank God selfies are socially acceptable now and we even have selfie sticks! It wasn’t the case 7 years ago. At that time, you sill had to ask random people to take a picture of you, as taking a selfie was just weird.
5. Traveling alone is not for everyone
That’s true! I’m an introvert and I get a lot of energy from visiting places alone. But I imagine extroverts would feel awkward and feel like they are missing out, because they don’t have someone to share their adventure with.
But if you need company, it is usually easy to tag along other travelers, especially if you stay at a youth hostel, or befriend locals.
6. Do you like traveling alone?
I love it. It is a lot easier for me to connect with nature, places and God when I’m on my own. And I always go back home refreshed and with my batteries fully charged.
So if you have never tried traveling alone, give it a try. Worst case scenario you won’t like it and will take a friend along next time you go somewhere. But you might discover a hidden side to your personality!