«You went alone?! Aren’t you afraid?
Do you like travelling alone? Don’t you get bored on your own?
And what if something happens when you’re alone in some other part of the world?».
These are some of the questions people ask me when they hear, for the first time, that I travel alone.
As you probably already know from my Taiwan post, I adore travelling on my own but my point of view on this matter is quite clear by now, therefore I decided that in this Travel Tips I will let some friends answer this kinda of questions because, apparently, I am not the only crazy person who walks her lonely way in this world.
These are the questions:
1. First solo trip, when and where?
2. Pros of travelling alone (at least 3)?
3. Cons of travelling alone (at least 3)?
4. Have you ever felt not safe?
5. Where would you not go solo and why?
6. What is never missing in your bag?
Below, ladies and gentlemen, the questioned (for gender equality, 5 female and 5 male).
Federica, Italian, 33 years old today.
Her first solo trip was in 2013, when she was 26. She moved to Putian (where I met her), a little – for the Chinese standards – city in Southern China.
According to her, 3 Pros of travelling alone are:
1.freedom to decide where to go
About the Cons instead, she said that sometimes you find yourself facing situations which would be better if shared with someone else; you can count only on your own – «which is also a Pro», she adds; sometimes you feel lonely.
She was lucky enough, or prudent enough, to have never felt she was in danger.
She would not travel alone to Central Africa for example, because of the several news she hears about criminal attacks.
Never missing in her bag: earphones.
Stefano, Italian, 26 years old today.
His first solo trip was to Morocco, in December 2019.
For him the Pros of solo travelling are:
1.the fact that you don’t need to wait for anyone
2.the freedom in deciding the itinerary
3.the freedom to change also the same itinerary.
About the Cons he says that it can turn up to be boring if you’re shy; it could be difficult to get what you need if you’re not an experienced traveler; the possible loneliness, «strictly related to the first one»; if you’re in trouble… you can only count on yourself to find a solution.
He felt unsafe, yes, but probably because the place itself was very poor; «anyway a Mongol proverb says “if you’re scared, don’t do it but if you do it, don’t be scared”».
There is no place where he wouldn’t go because he feels – and wish – that anywhere you’ll go, a gentle smile will help you find the way through things.
Never missing in his bag: a camera (even the phone one) to record what’s worth to be recorded.
Lili, Spanish, 34 years old today.
Her first solo trip was in 2013 when she went backpacking to Peru and Bolivia; before that she travelled alone but to places where she lived or anywhere she knew someone already.
Pros of travelling alone:
1.easier planning and planning according to your taste
2.meeting people as «solo travelers are more open to connect with others»
3.flexibility in changing plans
5.time for self discovering and reflection.
As per the Cons, she says that in case of any problem, you don’t have the support or the help of anyone close; you have nobody who can take nice pics of you (I mentioned this “problem” in a post on Instagram during my trip in Algarve 😛 ); some costs cannot be splitted with anyone, hence it becomes sometimes more expensive.
Did she ever feel unsafe? Yes, she did.
She would not travel alone to conflict zone, as it wouldn’t be safe precisely, and North Korea, because it is «not communicative with the outside».
Never missing in her bag: lonely planet guide, phone charger, earphones, tissues, water bottle and snacks (she’s one of my club), IDs and money (that she keeps in different wallets and places), certain medicines.
Domenico, Italian, 33 years old today.
His first solo trip was in 2019 when he was 31; he chose to travel to Japan, visiting Tokyo and Kyoto.
«3 Pros are not enough! But I’ll try to point out the absolute best 3 then»:
1.organization: you decide everything (itinerary, when and how long); all is up to your choice and your taste
2.you don’t have to give account to anyone, you do exactly what you wanna do. «You want to stop to take some photo? You stop and take photos. You want to rest longer in the room? You have longer rest. You wanna change your plan? You do it… without having to ask anyone. It’s the closest I’ve ever felt to freedom»
3.the satisfaction you feel when you realize you could do all what you planned: everything you’re doing, every place you see and all the moments you’re living are only and exclusively thanks to yourself
4.«I need to add a forth one», as to say what the solo travelling leaves you at the end of the adventure: an incredible personal growth. «When you go back home, you’re changed. It’s a priceless feeling».
Where there are Pros there are also Cons: you cannot share those moments with anyone, those feelings are only yours – sometimes is positive, but some other times it’s a real pity; mostly in big cities, it can happen that you have to spend long time on public transportation alone and you could get bored, in two for example time would fly; you are alone, therefore organization must be perfect because everything is on you; even in case of an emergency, there won’t be anyone to help.
He always travelled alone in Asia, which is usually very safe, therefore he never felt in danger; even at night, he never had the feeling to facing an unsafe situation.
There is no place he would not go: a big city or a wilder destination, he would not put limits to his passion to travel.
Never missing in his bag: «apparent easy question, but is not».
Mobile phone can never, absolutely never, miss – «I know you were wishing for a more romantic answer but that’s the first thing that comes to my mind» ( ahahaha 🙂 ). The reason is that anywhere you go you can purchase a local sim card and he finds extremely important to have internet in places he does not know; camera, because it’s beautiful to take snapshots of the memories you’re making so that you can share them with friends once back home; (here it comes the romantic Dome we were waiting for) last thing that can never miss in his bag is the desire to enjoy every single minute, every little moment of the trip, every landscape or situation… «everything must be lived with the most positive and curious attitude because there is nothing more amazing then travelling and getting to know cultures you did not even know could exist!».
Ileana, Italian, 32 years old today.
Her first solo trip was to Marseille in 2016.
In her opinion, the Pros of travelling alone are:
1.the total freedom to choose what to see, when, how and for how long
2.the easy it is to organize your time to visit places
3.«You can wear your headphones and have your own soundtrack linked to a trip, or spending time reading as well».
4.Stepping out of your comfort zone.
About the Cons: relying only on yourself; no chance to split costs for accommodation or transportation; having photos of yourself during the trip becomes quite difficult; loneliness – like during the meals.
She felt unsafe in Marseille in fact she was always staying home after 6/7pm.
At the question “Where would you not go solo and why?” she answered:
«on the top of my head, Morocco. I’ve always wanted to go but years ago I‘ve seen some crime news regarding two girls travelling there and that stuck with me over the years».
Interesting extra she added is that she would not travel to Paris alone, because she feels that’s a city you’d want to enjoy with someone else. She would not go to Iceland either, because she would love to go hiking there and alone it wouldn’t be too safe.
Never missing in her bag: headphones, a camera and a book.
Antonio, Italian, 30 years old today.
His first solo trip was to Pag island in Croatia, in 2018.
He thinks that the Pros of travelling on his own are:
1.you see whatever you like to, without obligations of any kind
2.you get to know yourself better
3.«you “wake up”», as to say that you become more aware of life.
As per the Cons instead, he admits that it is not always easy nor nice to be alone; «the bill is always on you… and the dirty dishes too»; someone might catch you talking to yourself – because you do talk to yourself, even in public.
According to his memory, he never felt unsafe.
He would never go to places where there are wars going on and if you ask him “why”: «Well… because there is a war».
Never missing in his bag: toothbrush; speaker for his music; a book.
Carla, English, 29 years old today.
The first time she had a long flight on her own was to Thailand where she would meet some friends, but her first real solo trip was to Hong Kong.
About the Pros:
1.Go at your own pace
2.Have the freedom to do exactly what you want
3.Pushing yourself out of the comfort zone
4.Meeting people and make connections you might not make if you were travelling with friends
5.It’s easier to not over spend or to budget your travel to your tastes
6.Learn to love your own company 😍 (the emoji is hers).
About the Cons she said «Sometimes you want to order all the food to try but can be too much alone hahah» (now you see why we are friends?); sometimes you wish you were sharing the magic experiences with others; occasional loneliness.
She felt unsafe once, she was in Malaysia and she felt uncomfortable for the way a guy approached her.
«Great top tip: say you’re on your way to meet your boyfriend, brother, dad etc – a shame we have to sometimes do this as women, but it helped me get out of this situation. Stand your ground. Make sure you keep your wits about you and don’t take too risky situations especially at night».
On her wishlist there are apparently no places where she wouldn’t travel alone.
Never missing in her bag: phone camera to take pictures, bank card, phone charger, map (depending on the place), bit of cash…just in case.
Ben, English, 38 years old today.
His first solo trip was at the age of 19, he went to Australia for a year.
Pros of travelling alone:
1.you can do your own thing and don’t have to work around others’ schedules
2.you meet more people
3.sense of accomplishment.
About the Cons, he says: «can sometimes be a pain to make new friends» and approach people to hang out; you cannot share the experiences you live with anyone; you can feel lonely when you arrive in new places and still don’t know anyone.
He has always felt safe.
At the question Where would you not go solo and why? He answered: «hard to say. My preference now would be to always travel with someone to share experiences. I love sailing and wouldn’t go for a solo trip yet as I would probably never be seen again» ( 😛 ).
Never missing in his bag: his laptop.
Cassie, Swiss, 24 years old today.
Her first solo trip was in 2015 (!!!), when she went to Utah, USA.
Pros, for her:
1.getting to know new people
2.being able to plan everything her way
3.possibility to be very spontaneous.
Cons: you have to eat alone sometimes; you have no one to share an Uber with; in difficult situation, you don’t have anyone to talk to and brainstorm with.
Did she ever feel unsafe? Yes, she also did; once.
She would not travel to Iraq on her own, because this country sounds quite dangerous to her.
Never missing in her bag: tissues, wallet, mobile phone, power bank and charger, a pen and painkillers.
Shahmir, Pakistani, 28 years old today.
He considers his moving to Europe as his first big solo trip: it was the first time leaving his own country, he was 26 and was going to start his master’s program.
Pros of travelling alone:
1.you live a unique experience that lets you discover yourself, your likes and dislikes
2.you can develop a deeper perspective of life
3.you learn to live in a more spiritual way («depending also on where you are»).
«Everything that glitters is not gold», travelling alone has Cons too: some countries are backward: locals can make you feel uncomfortable and not welcome; safety can be a major concern; you meet people but the level of connection and understanding might not be the same as with old friends, therefore more superficial.
There is no place where he wouldn’t travel because he thinks that every chosen destination depends of the kind of vibe you look for a trip.
An advice from Shamy: «don’t take for granted the culture and the norms of the place you’re visiting, make some research… it will help you to avoid troublesome situations».
Never missing in his bag: power bank «so that I don’t run out of battery to capture memories», water bottle, some snacks.
I want you to know that part of these people don’t know eachother and will probably never meet.
Me, I met them all in different chapters of my life and in different places.
I loved some of the answers but, most of all, I found very interesting reading them all…
10 people, not random to me but random to each other, yes.
I found extremely interesting to read how perfect strangers can have so much in common: pursuing freedom, challenging themselves with the aim of self discover; wishing to meet new people; fearing loneliness and being afraid to have no one to count or rely on.
Travelling opens our minds. It makes us grow and realize that, in the end, we are all the same; we are all… humans.
It’s been said «build bridges, not borders»; isn’t it this what you do when you travel?
(I leave you with some photos they took during their first solo trips, enjoy).
Feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of the page…
I’ll read ya!