Five Things I Discovered While Travelling Solo

Travelling by yourself is a life changing experience and it definitely changed me.  Travelling by yourself for the first time can be daunting, but it does lead to this overwhelming sense of freedom, which is quite addictive. I became a solo traveller four years ago when I wanted to celebrate graduating university by travelling to Europe. The only issue was that none of my friends wanted to go with me. I was stuck with this dream of adventure and the reality that if I want to go I would have to go by myself.

In the end I decided that I was going to Europe and I became a female solo traveller. I discovered that there were many great and exciting parts of traveling solo. Traveling solo is an opportunity to learn more about the world around you and even more so to learn more about yourself. I’ve put together five of the biggest parts of solo travelling that I learnt from my experience.

One: You get to do what you want.

If you have ever travelled in a group then you would know the struggle of making decisions. When you travel alone you don’t have to vote on where to eat. You don’t have to compromise when no-one in your group wants to do something you want to. This is my favourite part of travelling by myself! You get to be completely selfish. If you want to get up at a stupid hour of the morning to see the sun rise over Edinburgh, you can. If you want to do a cooking class, you can. If you want to visit as many churches in Rome in a day, guess what you can!

Two: You realise just how capable you actually are.

Travelling alone forces you to be resourceful and focus on just doing what you have to do. It makes you realise just how capable you are looking after yourself and working though unfamiliar situations. I think every traveller remembers that inspiring moment when against all odds, somehow you navigate yourself across a foreign city. As I discovered when getting myself and my bag across Rome though the metro system and finding my hostel in one piece which was a cause for celebration! I had no useful Italian, no access to the internet, and no map. Only terrible verbal directions to help me on my way and somehow I managed to make it.

Three: You’re more inclined to meet people.

I considered myself quite a shy person. I discovered when travelling solo that I am in a way forced to interact with other people. I’ve learnt that it isn’t actually that hard to start a conversation with a stranger. You can ask them where they are from or what they have seen so far and would recommend that you should see. If you stay in a hostel then there is a high chance that you will meet other people who are travelling solo. I have made some great friends while travelling solo. The more I travel the more I realise that us humans, are pretty much the same no matter where you go.

Four: You gain an extra level of awareness.

Safety, it is definitely an important part of travel whether you are travelling solo or in a group. I have been told that it isn’t safe to travel alone as a female. This isn’t exactly true, because if I was out alone, in my home town in Australia. I would have to be just as aware of dark alleys and my own safety. It is important that you do trust your instincts when you are travelling solo. If a person, place or situation seems unsafe then it probably is and you should take yourself far away from it. Trusting your instincts is very handy skill to learn when it comes to travel and life in general.

Awareness is really the key to safety and it can be tiring at first to take in everything around you. I have found that now it is second nature for me. For example when I walk into a cafe I assess the environment and situation.
I scan the people to see who is around, do I feel safe? I look for a position that isn’t isolated. I acknowledge the staff, I want them to know that I am there, so if something happens they will notice. Finally, I listen to the people around me. I am listening for the tone of their voices, you can usually tell if someone is angry even if you don’t understand the language.

Five: You have no-one to share with.

I will admit it would have been nice to be able to turn to someone that wasn’t a stranger and mention that the view is amazing. Sometimes it is nice to share an experience with someone, but it is awe inspiring that you get to experience it alone all the same. It is just disappointing that no matter how you try to describe and explain to people they will never truly understand what it was like, because they weren’t there. Also you can’t share transportation, food, accommodation costs which you can get cheaper if you are travelling in a group.

Travelling solo has made me into the person that I am today. I would recommend travelling solo, even if it was only for the weekend. I will admit that there are a few countries that if I wouldn’t travel by myself, but there are plenty that I would. I have travelled around New Zealand, Fiji, most of Europe alone and would again in a heartbeat.

Have you been travelling by yourself? Did you enjoy it and where did you go? Let me know in the comments below.



A Short Ride in Real Fiji

Fiji’s coastline seems to be endlessly edged with beautiful palm trees, sandy white beaches, while the interior of the island is full of lush vegetation and little villages. I was blessed to have had the opportunity to attended my friend’s wedding in this picturesque island nation. I must admit that Fiji wasn’t really on my list of places to visit, even though it is relatively close to my home country, Australia. It was an exciting trip to plan as it was the first of my close friends to get married and my first destination wedding.

I know that a destination wedding isn’t everyone’s dream wedding but my friend is an ex-travel agent and getting married in Australia is quite expensive. Also I know some people wouldn’t want to spend the money to attend an overseas wedding. My friend was considerate and did notify everyone more than a year in advance to allow us to save for the trip, also most of her friends are travel agents!

I would describe myself as a budget traveller when it comes to accommodation. I like staying in hostels, especially when I travel solo as it is a great way to meet people and I like to spend my money on experiences such as cooking classes, outdoor activities, and cultural tours. The wedding was being held at the Outrigger Beach Resort, which is a stunning five star beach resort. I decided that because this was a special trip that I was going to book two nights at this beautiful resort.

In my wisdom I decided that ever though I had booked a five star hotel, that it didn’t mean I was going to pay the one-hundred dollar for a transfer from Nadi to the hotel. Oh no, I couldn’t justify that, after spending the equivalent of a week’s wage on three nights accommodation. I decided to do what every savvy traveller with a taste of adventure does. I took the local bus to a five star hotel.

I had convinced myself that taking the local bus would be an authentic Fijian experience, as being at a resort let’s be honest is not. I arrived twenty minutes early to purchase my ticket and find the right bus in Nadi’s busy bus terminal. There was heaps of people around the ticket booth with all these hands shoving money and tickets, back and forth. I was slightly concerned that there wouldn’t be any tickets left. As I walked forward the server motioned me to the side of the ticket booth, allowing me the cut the ten people deep line. I was extremely grateful.

I explained where I wanted to go and I paid my six Australian dollars for my ticket. He then pointed to the bus and told me to tell the bus driver where I was going so I didn’t miss my stop. The bus driver quickly stowed my bag under the bus and told me to sit near the front of the bus, to make sure he didn’t forget to stop at my stop.

The next moment is so vivid in my mind, I walk up the stair into the bus to be greeted to a completely full bus. I don’t mean all the seats were full. I literally mean the whole bus was full of people. There were people sitting in the almost non-existent walkway and nearly all passengers had a child on their lap. I was the only foreigner on the bus. My brain was overwhelmed and my mouth opened without my permission and I said ‘there is no space’ in a voice of complete disbelief.

A lady heard me and actually apoligised that the bus was so full. Fijian people really are extremely friendly and caring. I managed to find a tiny gap three rows back from the driver. I couldn’t believe it when four more adults and their luggage somehow managed to squeeze onto the bus. As I settled in for the one and a half hours drive it started to drizzle. Then it started to pour down. It was just coming to the end of the wet and cyclone season in Fiji.

Just to prove how lovely and friendly Fijian people are a lady heard me and apologised to me that the bus was so full. I told her it was fine and smiled, while on the inside I’m quietly reassuring myself that everything will be fine. Ten minutes down the main road to Suva travelling at 80km/h I realised that the bus was rocking side to side. It was especially bad when we went around a corner, moving at about a 45 degree sway. I must admit that I was slightly concerned but as I looked around everyone else was swaying contently back and forth. I reasoned that if the locals aren’t concern that the bus took topple over at any moment than I shouldn’t be either.

There was a tiny television playing a Malaysian animal documentary which help pass the time and distract me from the swaying of the bus. As people got off at their stop, I was slowly making my way forward to the front of the bus. The bus driver was nice enough to remember that I was there and dropped me off out front of the hotel. It was still raining as I waved back to the smiling children as the bus drove off. The porters at the Outrigger Reach Resort looked rater confused as I made my happy way into the reception to check-in.

Sound familiar? Let me know in the comments below if you have done something similar when travelling.