As I sat on a boat headed out to the caves along the Algarve, a polite and intrigued man smiled awkwardly. Possibly confused and definitely wind swept by the salty breeze blowing in from the Atlantic Ocean, he plucked up the courage to ask me what seemed like a dreaded question. For most, “Who are you travelling with?” seems like a normal query however at times, like when answered with an “Oh, just myself” type answer can leave a strange silence. Expecting a further explanation by this stranger, I highlighted that in fact, traveling alone had its rewards and that I had made friends. Reflecting on my response later, I laughed about it with the other solo travellers in my hostel who had experienced similar.
Self-reflection and sheer convenience are just a couple of reasons to travel alone. I could also imagine that watching ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ would be spur on a one woman (or man) escapade. For me, it’s the fact that I get to spend lots of time alone. I’m an introvert at heart and although, I love people and feel confident, I get my energy from spending time alone. This means that I recharge my batteries by listening to music, blogging and travel (to name a few). Upon observation over my thirty one years, I can recommend at least some alone time for everyone- at home or abroad.
For those wannabe loners, listen up! it doesn’t have to be a challenge to plan a lone-trip and it certainly doesn’t need to be expensive. To get started on the trip of a lifetime (or short-time), the internet and stores are full of the resources you need.
All of the main booking applications such as Ryanair.com, Booking.com and Hostelworld.com allow for solo bookings (crazy, I know). They are also full of cheap offers so that you don’t need to carry heavy prices without someone to share them with. Moreover, they make it easy to navigate, should you feel overwhelmed. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go when I booked Portugal this month. All I knew was that I needed sunshine and a beach. Hey presto, I used my one vote to choose flying to Faro for less than 170 euro (booked one week in advance). To avoid being a total loner for my trip, I went for a hostel – costing 25 euro per night. Winning, right?
If you’ve got a bigger budget and you’d prefer luxury then AirBnB have amazing offers everywhere. You can have the space and location choices just like hostels but without loads of bodies in your space. Just be sure that you’re choosing accommodation in a central location so that total isolation doesn’t happen. I said alone time is good for you but you’re going to want to meet humans at some stage.
Being alone means reaching far outside your comfort zone. Bobbing along beautiful beaches and perfect cities is fun alone however after some time, it might be time to consider reaching out. Hostels are the perfect way to connect at any time of the year and you can meet friends for life. Couch surfing is also useful. I started using this site back in 2013 when I was in Chile. Not knowing many people and actually not wanting to sleep on any couches, I browsed the local Couchsurfing page for fun activities. Thankfully, I saw that an American girl had just arrived and wanted to explore. To this day, we’re still close friends and we had a ball together in South America and more recently, in Ireland. Likewise, I spent one night drinking Sangria with new friends I met via Couch surfing hangouts in Portimao.
Got some tips and tricks when it comes to traveling solo? Post them in the comments below or across social media.