Gathering the Guts to Go Solo: Part 2
As promised in Gathering the Guts to Go Solo - Part I, I have provided here a list of activities which I believe you should take part in so as to help you get comfortable with the idea of traveling on your own. Starting with learning to love spending time by yourself, all the way up to the moment you’ve been waiting for.
You need to get comfortable doing things alone, plain and simple. This is the most important and yet the hardest step for most people to master. You don’t have take off somewhere alone right of the bat, in fact I advise against it. Instead, I think you should start off slowly. Basically, you need to date yourself and learn to love your own company. Go to a movie, sit in a coffee shop, take yourself out for an amazing dinner, wander through a museum, or go for a walk with no music, just you and your thoughts. Some people tell me they feel embarrassed when they go do things alone. I think this is because they think other people might be judging them. You might feel the same when you see other people alone. I want you to cut that shit out right now. First of all, embarrassment is a useless emotion. Secondly, if you are enjoying yourself, then what does it matter to you what other people think? For me, one of my most favourite things to do is to go out to my favourite restaurant and order a 3 course meal, sit there for hours, eating and drinking as I people watch or read a book. You may be alone, but being alone does not mean you have to be lonely. There is a big difference between the two terms, and you must learn to distinguish between the two. Remember that.
Being by yourself can be wonderful, but some of the best experiences from solo travel come from the people you meet. This might be a problem if you’re shy. Overcoming this obstacle is something that also takes work, but you can learn to speak to and meet people with practice. I was shy at one time in my life as well. You know, I still am sometimes! But something I’ve learned in my travels is that most people are genuinely nice and that they are truly interested in meeting people who have similar interests (traveling) and they want to hear your story. It’s not hard to find people to talk to. For those of you still not sure about this, look for a blog post on how to speak to people coming soon.
Learn to Crawl
Take a road trip to a neighbourhood or small town you’ve never been to before. Walk around. Stop in a local diner. Smile at people and say hi as you walk by. Maybe take a lunch and have a picnic in the park, enjoying the sound of the birds chirping and keep entertained by watching squirrels or prairie dogs and people. Seriously, people watching is one hell of a way to kill time.
Never left your city or state/province/country before? Scared to navigate an airport? In smaller centres like where I’m from, navigating an airport really isn’t that hard, but I know as a first timer (or even the third or fourth time) it can be daunting if you have no idea what you’re doing. To get past this obstacle, may I suggest going on a trip with a friend or family member that has flown before. It doesn’t have to be far. But once you have flown once or twice, the process really doesn’t change. I would recommend doing one domestic flight somewhere, and possibly one where you have to go through customs either during a layover or at your final destination. Pay attention to the process. Ask questions like, “what do we do next?’ or “how do we know where to go?”
Learning to Walk
Ok, so you’ve flown a few times. Now to test your knowledge! Take a domestic flight within your own country to a long lost friend or relative’s place. Take that flight on your own and ask them meet you at the airport to pick you up. The important part here is to make sure you have your own private accommodations and schedule for at least part of the trip so that you know the process of checking into a hotel, sleeping alone in a new environment, and so you can learn to explore the neighbourhood solo. What I did my first time was fly to Vancouver where a friend of mine I met at work while in University now lived. She offered to pick me up and drop me off at my hotel. I just had to navigate the airports by myself. The next evening we went for supper, so I had the whole day off to explore my neighbourhood. The next day we did a grub crawl during the day. The night following that, we went for sushi. Then I met with fellow university students throughout Canada for a conference. It was nice to know that I had someone around that could show me around and I could call if I needed, and to spend some time with. But I also had a fair amount of time alone to do my own thing. I found out how to get to Stanley Park and out to Capilano Suspension bridge and wandered around there by myself for hours. It was so amazing and relaxing.
Another excellent way to get your toes wet is to take a flight somewhere but join a group tour when you get there. Preferably one that will provide arrangements to pick you up at the airport when you get there so you don’t have to worry about finding your way on your own that very first time. I recently stumbled across a website called Flash Pack that promotes trips for solo travellers aged 30-49. I am super excited about this and I hope to take a trip with them in 2020.
On Your Own
Once you’ve done these things, you’re more than ready to go solo!!!! Be prepared to be challenged, feel empowered, meet people, and have the time of your life!!!!
I hope these tips help you gather the courage to take that leap and book your own little trip somewhere. Traveling solo is such a rewarding experience and something you will be glad you did. I can’t wait to hear all about it. Cheers!