Every time someone commented on me traveling alone the line from the incredibles came into my head, “fly home buddy, I work alone” and every time I try to think of a witty line in relation to traveling alone. But I can’t. So here’s my journey and advice on traveling solo.
It’s crazy to write this post, as I didn’t start my journey alone. In June I went with a friend to Thailand, who found traveling wasn’t for her (it’s not for everyone!!) so booked an early flight home.
If you’re wondering how I felt at this point, all the emotions you are probably think of are correct. I was confused, partly annoyed, but more than anything, excited.
I’m the sort of person who loves a challenge and I think finding out whilst in Asia that you are going to be left on your own is pretty challenging. All my friends at home I told straight away said “come home hannah”, but where’s the fun in taking the easy way out?
A year ago the thought of traveling alone would never have even crossed my mind. Yet now if a friend asked to travel with me, my straight up answer would be no.
Long story short, my friend did me a massive favour. I’ve already arranged my flight out next year. With no return.
My advice on traveling alone:
I don’t want to sound sexist when I say this, but there’s definitely more risk for a young girl on her own than anyone else.
Nevertheless, if you keep your wits about you and be sensible, there’s no reason anything should go wrong.
I didn’t encounter any issues, until I took my first night bus. Something to note (especially in Vietnam), is that if you’re told a journey will take X amount of hours, the actual time will be plus/minus two hours or that.
I was told I’d arrive at 6am to my destination. To me this meant that the sun would have risen, which was a big factor to me. It meant that if any thing did go wrong at least it was day light and there would probably people around.
Anyway, the bus actually arrived at 5am, meaning it was dark.
When you get dropped off at a bus station there are always motorbike taxis. Do not get on a motorbike taxi.
They are well known for stealing from tourists and most hostels will warn you of this.
After one of the motorbike men tried taking my bag 3 times, I decided to go to the only English people who had been on the bus.
The girls ended up walking me to my hostel . I don’t think they realised how much they saved me that day, anything could have gone wrong and I’m so grateful that they were there.
If you’re going on a night bus I’d arrange a taxi before hand through your hostel, so it’s there when you arrive or so you can ring them when at the bus stop.
Don’t be afraid to speak to people.
When I first went, I was so overwhelmed and wouldn’t approach people if they were in a “big group”.
One thing you’ll learn is that no one is actually in a ‘group’. It’s normally just loads of solo travellers sat together.
Traveling alone helped my confidence so much. I wouldn’t really say I’m shy anyway, but when you’re forced to go and approach people, you grow a lot of confidence.
It sounds so cliche, but If you really can’t face talking to people. Have a social drink. If having a drink will give you some Dutch courage, go for it.
Book SOCIAL hostels.
Most travellers use the app Hostelworld. On the app you can see reviews and ratings of hostels. I always booked the hostels that had good comments about the social aspect.
For example, I stayed at the Hangout Hostel in Ho Chi Minh. There was no one in the room when I got there, so I went to the bar (got my free beer) and asked a group of people if I could sit with them. I ended up spending the whole night with them.
The next night some Irish boys started talking to me and I explained I was going to the war museum the next day. They were too, so we ended up spending the next day together.
Moral of the story, you aren’t ever actually alone when you are travelling alone. Just make sure you book the correct hostels, with lots of backpackers around.
Do the things you normally wouldn’t
At the start of my trip, I drove a motorbike for the first time and had my first crash.
I swore I wouldn’t go on a bike the rest of the time I was in Asia. In fact, I commented a few times on how crazy the tourists were for driving them.
But, with hypocrite being my middle name, I ended up getting back on a motorbike in Vietnam.
There is nothing that makes you feel more free than driving around islands and new cities, wondering upon new destinations and discovering places you didn’t know existed.
It’s not just motorbikes though. You should really do everything you can when you are travelling.
If you think that it’s the one time you have the opportunity to do something, would you do it?
One thing travelling taught me is that I’m okay with being alone. It’s fun to push your own boundaries and discover things about yourself you didn’t know.