To be honest, I haven’t done much of solo traveling. I usually travel with a friend or a family member but sometimes this is not an easy thing to do. When you travel with someone, some compromises must take place and sometimes it can make or break your trip. Your best bet is either:
a) Find the perfect traveling partner that will be in complete sync with you (good luck with that)
b) Travel solo
Finding the Perfect Traveling partner
Finding the perfect “traveling partner” is something I have been working on for quiet some time now and is still work in progress. My perfect traveling partner is someone that wants to visit the same places I want to go or gets me excited about visiting other places, willing to try any food locally, open to get lost in the city, pack and go when the moment calls, and a little love for photography wouldn’t hurt either. Basically, someone that shares the same passion for traveling and vacation time but doesn’t need to take 100 selfies in one single spot. Like I said, work in progress…
So everything comes down to option b. Why don’t you just travel solo, you may ask. Well, there are many reasons as to why: Safety, feeling lonely, more expensive, fear of eating alone, I can keep going but you get the point.
Safety is a legitimate reason but I will get back to this one. Fear of eating alone, as stupid as it sounds, have actually played a role on my decision making. I have actually skipped restaurants when I travel alone because it’s weird for me to eat there by myself (Unlimited Korean BBQ for one please!). I am slowly working on this and I can eat alone in most places (except in restaurants set up for groups and/or couples, without bars, or small tables) but in my mind I feel judged if I’m sitting in a table for four all by myself unless, I have so many shopping bags it calls for it. Is it a weird fear? Is it weirder if I tell you that I’m more afraid to eat alone than for my own safety? Feeling alone is also a legitimate reason. Sometimes you may find yourself experiencing an amazing event or find something funny and immediately want to share it with someone but only to find out, you are on your own. Here is when you realize you miss your family and friends.
Let me tell you something, all this lonely feelings only last for a little while. Once you realize you are on your own, you will feel an overwhelming sensation of satisfaction. You will feel empowered like you can take on the world. You can finally eat whatever you want whenever you want. You can visit anything you want and you can take it as slow or as fast as you like. Feeling alone? Make new friends! (of course, use your good judgement) There are people like you traveling all over specially in Europe! Maybe meet locals! (again, use your good judgement) If you are a bit shy, this is the moment to step out of your comfort zone. Still feeling alone? Play some music!
How do I remedy the awkwardness of eating alone?
SOLO TRAVELING – eating time
Eat street food or food trucks
Before you venture into eating any kind of street food, make sure the food is safe to eat. Always turn to locals and see if is common thing to do or if your stomach can take it.
Buy a few items at the local super market and go to a park and have a mini picnic! Enjoy the view and and do some people watching while you have a economical and delicious lunch.
Order to Go
In many countries, this is a very normal thing to do. For example, in Scandinavia, if you order to go, you actually won’t get charge the service fee which is a very steep percentage. So you will be saving money too! or in Italy, order those Panini to go!
Sit in the smallest table
In many coffe places, there are small tables usually for one or two person. They are usually on the sidewalk or they are facing a window. You won’t feel awkward, trust me. There’s no space for anyone else to sit on their hobbits’ tables.
While you are not eating, you can read a book, check your schedule, evaluate the city map, or simply enjoy your coffee while you do some people watching. All these will keep your mind from thinking about the awkwardness of eating alone.
So now, let’s come back to safety. As a female, I take extra precaution when I travel specially when doing solo traveling.
solo Traveling – Safety Tips
- Do research – Research the are where you are staying. make sure is not some shady area and that you will feel safe
- Blend in – Try not to look ULTRA touristy
- Limit your night excursions or transit in very busy areas and well lit
- Do not just spit out all your travel plans and personal information to every creeper that approaches you – How long will you be in town, Where you are from, What you do
- If you see some creeper trying to approach you in the street, walk faster and do not make eye contact – I’m not saying every person is a creeper but be mindful
- Do not engage with creepers when you are walking
- Do not get wasted
- Don’t flaunt the cash even if they are just singles
- Be confident! – Don’t let all these deter you from traveling solo!
I found this link of the 10 Best Destination for Solo Traveling. I want to add to this article, Korea and Japan. I have traveled there many times and I have done solo traveling there too. I can attest that these two countries are some of the safes in the world. For example, in Korea you can leave your belongings on a table in a coffee shop and walk away, nobody will touch it (not a suggestion). If you passed out on the street drunk, you will wake up with your wallet still on you.
After learning to travel solo, I just simply take off. Just remember that the positive aspects outnumber the negatives! Just take the leap!