I was talking to a friend about my next adventure - a surf and yoga trip to Kerala planned for later this year. Her eyes widened as I told her of my plans to go alone ... "I wish I was more like you," she said. "You're so brave and adventurous going off on your own without a care in the world. I'd love to be able to do that but I'm too scared."
I was surprised by her response. I've never thought that travelling on my own might be considered dangerous or adventurous by others. I'm sure my Mum wrings her hands every time I announce I'm off to some far-flung place, but I've never let anything get in my way of my desire to see the world - unless of course there's a natural disaster or war in the country I plan to visit.
I strongly believe that if you don't travel, you're depriving yourself of the wonders of the world ... and there are such a lot of wonders to see.
If you're travelling alone for the first time, then packaged adventures are a good start -these can be all-inclusive Majorca style holidays, or adventures like my trip to Montana earlier this year where I met loads of other single travellers.
I've also invested in surf holidays to Bali, Lanzarote and Brazil where I stayed at camps with other single surfers and also regular trips to Tagazhout in Morocco where I know most of the surf camp owners and guides and feel very safe.
It's about choosing your trips wisely, doing lots of research and having a solid plan in place.
If you're a woman travelling alone, NEVER make yourself the center of attention. Never wander around late at night on your own, never get drunk in bars on your own and try to walk home in the dark, don't wear provocative clothing unless you're in your bikini on the beach, don't advertise the fact you're travelling alone (one friend used to always tell people her boyfriend was waiting back at the hotel) and always find an ally - a hotel porter, surf camp manager, who knows you're alone and can keep an eye on you.
And if you have to eat on your own in restaurants (my pet hate), take a good book, a movie on your ipad and ask to be seated at a table in the corner rather than in the middle of the room. Or order room service.
I tasted the travel bug early on in life - I began travelling on my own at a very young age. My first 'solo flight' across the world was with my younger brother on a flight from the US to Australia. I was 8 and he was 6 and although I wasn't exactly travelling on my own, I was the oldest and so in charge.
I did the same trip again, on my own at the age of 14, and have been happy to travel alone ever since. Even in relationships, if my partner doesn't want to come with me, I'd still head off alone anyway.
It's not because I don't want to travel with other people - on the contrary, I much prefer to have company especially when visiting romantic places or on beach holidays - but if I waited around for friends and boyfriends to get time off, commit to the airfares, agree to come to the same place etc, I'd never go anywhere. Many of my friends don't surf or ride horses so it makes it even tricker. I've seen loads of other people's friendships disintegrate because their travelling companion has decided to cancel at the last minute.
So to avoid all that, my M.O is to plan a trip on my own and tell my friends - "I'm going here and there. If you want to come, you're more than welcome. I'm going anyway."
And look at the positives - travelling alone is good for you as it teaches you to be self sufficient, independent, and helps build your confidence. You're also free to do what you want and when you want.
I guess what I'm trying to say is seize the moment. If you want to go somewhere - go!
Don't wait for others - life is too short. But make sure you plan your trips wisely, always have somewhere to stay before you arrive (AirBnB are great for small apartments etc) or try to find an organised tour or adventure where you'll meet loads of other single travellers, avoid dangerous territories alone and always tell your friends of your plans ... you never know, one of them might suddenly decide to join you.
Labels: travelling alone