There are periods of time where travelling solo drives us crazy and you wonder why you’ve chosen to go it alone. Moments where you are struggling to carry all your stuff for several kilometres, or you want to go swimming at the beach without risking your stuff being stolen, or you are having a brief walk through a neighbourhood that suddenly turns unsavoury. Or when you see couples travelling together and you feel jealous of their constant companionship.
But, this isn’t an article about how backpacking solo is actually really safe; this is just about how to enjoy so much time on your own. Like, there are the wonderful serendipitous moments that happen on the road when you team up with other travellers and hit the road together. The best part? You’re still on your own, free to join up with others when you want, and free to part ways when you want. So how do you get to that point? How do you go from dinner by your lonesome to road-tripping across Southeast Asia with new friends?
So, ELAINA GIOLANDO, from her experience writes some tips and tricks to make your lone travel enjoyable:
1. Better get the most popular hostel for your rest.
You’re likely to meet other travellers at the hostels so better get the hostel for your rest. Use hostelworld.com and sort options in a given geography by “overall rating” and look for the most and best-reviewed options. Most backpackers use a similar method so you’re likely to find a place with good atmosphere and like-minded travellers this way. If you’re an advanced backpacker who may need intermissions off the beaten hostel trail, Couchsurfing.org is a great way to travel solo by letting you stay with locals…for free!
2. Learn how to say “yes” more.
The most important thing you will from travelling alone is how to say “yes” more. There’s the option to go on a boat trip, to go diving, to join a tour, to sleep in a temple, to learn to rock climb. Yes, yes, and yes. We’ll never know until we try so try everything you can. When you just go with the flow and jumped into something new some of your favourite travel memories might happen.
3. Learn when to say no.
Just as important as readily saying “yes,” is discerning when you’re actually going to be happier doing something else or opting out of certain activities. For instance, participate in any function or party. Contrary of your instincts, you will have the time of your life, you don’t have to take alcohol or drug the entire night. You can be fully in that moment and fully aware of your surroundings for the duration of the insanity, so say no to everything that makes you tipsy and just take juice, soft drinks or coffee . It will be the best decision for you to make for yourself and you are now a strong and self-assured veteran traveller.
4. Introduce yourself first.
When you’re sitting around hostel or restaurant with other travellers (or locals) around, be the first one to smile and offer your name. It’s SO simple and it makes all the difference in the world. Often the typical opening line is “where are you from?” so when someone at least ventures that far, you should respond by telling where you are from and your name, by the way. And ask them about their self. Accept their gesture of friendliness and take it to one step further. This almost never fails.
5. Include yourself
This is a bit different than just opting in. With opting in, there’s an invite being extended to you, you just have to accept it. Including yourself is when there’s a group of people at the hostel talking about going swimming in a lagoon and you pipe in and say, “Oh hey, are you guys headed to the Blue Lagoon? I heard that’s supposed to be an amazing picnic spot! Mind if I bring a bottle of wine and join you guys?” It takes GUTS, but if you deliver with confidence and a big smile, rarely goes wrong.
6. Extend the invitation
Another way to go is to make up your mind about what you’re doing for the day and invite the people around you to join. Be the party-planner, the adventurer, the leader of the pack. You’ll be surprised at what people will go along with when someone sounds excited about what they’ve got planned.
7. Watch your body language
If you’re sitting with your arms crossed, folded inward, and frowning, you’re definitely not looking approachable. Smile more than you normally would, face other people, keep your hands down in your lap or at your sides, and be mindful of the word “open.” Look open. Look happy. Look like someone who’d be ready and willing to talk to another human being. Drop your device/defence mechanism. This is important, both literally and figuratively.
8. Wait around
Unfortunately, this part isn’t very exciting, but try it out for a day or two in a place where you have a little bit of extra time to see everything. After breakfast at the hostel or guesthouse, just sit (practising the above two recommendations), join in the conversation, introduce yourself, and see if a group gathers to go do something — and then opt in! Oftentimes by being less in a rush to go march out the door and do your own thing, you can link up with other travellers pretty easily.
9. Start conversation with most recent history
People make fun of the concept of “small talk,” but the reality is people need to start somewhere with one another… Go beyond the “where are you from, how long are you travelling for, where have you been, and where are you going” conversations. People will appreciate it and many of those questions lend themselves to what sounds like a competition over who’s travelling more instead of sharing experiences and getting to know each other. You should try to lead with “What’s your name? What’s your story?” or start with most recent history, “How was your day? Do you like it here so far? What have you enjoyed most about this place?”
10. Get better with names
Science shows during first introductions, many people get distracted by the anticipation of saying their own name that they instantly forget what the other person said. It takes a bit of practice, but when you meet someone new, shake their hand, look them in the eye, and repeat their name. Remembering names is an easy way to impress new friends and can help you facilitate further introductions that will expand your travel posse: “Frank, meet Linda. Linda, meet Frank.” You’ll be a hero. It’s also handy when you run into the same people in a different location; nothing breaks the bond faster with someone you spent a week in Peru with than seeing them again in Bolivia and going, “Hey…man!”
11. Be (slightly) aggressive with adding people to Facebook
If you spend more than a day with someone, you always wind up pulling out your phone and have to add them to Facebook. Or even if you only did a day trip together, You’ll add them so you can tag them in your photos later. The biggest advantage of this is: meeting up again becomes possible and very easy to do, your global network expands, and you have the best sources of firsthand travel tips for future destinations. You can ask any of your traveller friends about the place they had been and the best place to stay if you are planning to go there.
12. Take extra precautions with your belongings
It sounds very pragmatic, but nothing ruins a trip faster than getting all your stuff jacked. Take extra precaution of your belongings if possible take it with you everywhere you go, even in a bathroom. That inch of precaution is so much better than the days, if not weeks, of suffering and emptying out your bank account that will occur if you have to replace everything. You should always lock up your valuables at the hostel, and usually never stay in shared rooms that don’t supply a locker. you should not encourage paranoia, but manage your stuff and be a smart and happy solo traveller.
13. You get the inevitable periods of loneliness, Sink into it.
Perhaps not the best note to end on since our focus has been on helping you meet other travellers, but it’s important to remind you: you’re going to have times where you’ll be all alone. You flew out alone, you’re making all the calls, you get all the freedom and glory, and you also get the inevitable periods of loneliness. Sink into it, acknowledge it and work through it. Learn to enjoy your own company — one of the life’s great pleasures that few people ever master.
14. Take time for yourself
Because the opposite of loneliness also happens: you get burnt out of travelling with other people. The best part is, you came out on your own, so you aren’t obligated to stay at anybody’s side longer than you want to. Take a breather from the hostel scene, too. Couchsurf, arrange a homestay, ask friends to set you up with friends of theirs in other countries. All of these help you get a different perspective and provide a more immersive travel experience when you’re ready to get off the beaten path.