Travelling on your own can be a daunting and an even seemingly impossible prospect. Glorified blogs and epic Instagram accounts make it seem like only the most accomplished travellers dare to wander the world independently, risking their lives every day and partying with new people every night. These travellers usually have expensive GoPros and movie editing software, endless streams of money and an innate ability to talk to anyone.
However, from my own experience, I can tell you that it’s not as glamorous and scary as it seems. The trick to travelling is to keep putting one foot in front of the other. There are lots of ways to ease yourself into life on the road that will make you answer the question, “How did you find travelling on your own?” with a confident “I was never on my own” when you get home from your adventure, full of pride and amazing memories.
Now you’re all inspired to organise your first solo journey, I’ll give you a few tips on how to get going. There are several ways to start your travels, but the main ways are working, volunteering, or backpacking.
Working: Is cash a problem? Work your way around the world and you’ll never have to stop travelling. The beauty of being prepared to work is that you can keep going for as long as you like; whenever you’re close to running out of money, get a job wherever you are at the time. Working holiday visas for 18-30 year olds are pretty easy to get for Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Buy yourself a visa, book a week in a popular hostel in a city of your choice, catch a flight, and get job searching once you’re out there. My first job in Sydney was door-to-door sales. I quit after a week, but I ended up moving in with the people I met on the job and we became really great friends. Alternatively, you could get a seasonal job. During summer, you could work in a bar/restaurant in a party town around Europe; to do this, you’ll either need to go through an agency online, or just rock up and start handing out CVs.
Volunteering: If there’s something more specific you want to do, maybe this is the way forward. The International Citizen Service is a great place to start if you want to make a difference in a small community by working on a project. The great thing about ICS is that all you have to do is fundraise £800, and all other costs are paid for. Something I’m desperate to do once I’ve finished university is to volunteer at a yoga and surf retreat. These are found all over the world (I want to go to Sri Lanka!), and usually say if you work in a cafe/restaurant for free, then you have access to surf equipment and yoga classes at their facility. If you want to volunteer while on the move, you can work for bed and board. This includes WWOOFing, (a popular option in Australia) or working in a hostel in return for free accommodation.
Backpacking: There are so many organised tours out there, visit STA or look on Google to find some of the most popular tours for solo travellers. These are great for the first couple of weeks as they give you a good feel for a new country, whilst keeping you totally safe. Downside is these are a little more expensive. If you don’t fancy a tour, just rock up to a new place having pre-booked a popular, suitable hostel and researched a bit about the area and what you want to do there, and start making friends! People are much friendlier in hostels than they are anywhere else in the world — I promise. If you’re more organised, then plan your journey and your accommodation in advance. If you’re more spontaneous and get a thrill from last minute decisions and not knowing where you’re going to end up, then just book the first few days and see where life takes you.
So hopefully you now feel equipped with a wealth of knowledge about how to plan and implement your solo travels. Good luck! Find yourself, lose yourself, take lots of selfies — don’t be scared to ask strangers to take your picture — and take care.
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