Hey folks! Colby here, reporting from the lovely city of Prague! Sorry I’ve been so out of touch. As most of you know, I’m on the road over here in Europe and have been really busy with traveling, sightseeing, and of course, writing! I’ll be updating my blog with some insights on the places I’ve been so far, including Lisbon, Portugal; Sevilla, Spain; Paris, France, Munich, Germany; Vienna, Austria; and now, Prague, Czech Republic. In the meantime, though, let’s break the ice with a well-needed intro post on the question that people lob at me the most: How / why do I travel alone?
So, understandably, there’s a whole hulabaloo around traveling ALONE. Yes, I typed that in caps, because that’s often what the word feels like. Huge, daunting, in-your-face-and-can’t-handle-it. And guess what?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling that way.
Humans are social creatures. It’s natural to not want to be alone, and especially, to not want to travel alone. But let me tell you: traveling stag is the most freeing, most exhilarating experience one could ever have! Why? Well, here’s a list of five fantastic reasons to not be afraid of (or sad about) traveling alone.
1. You make your own schedule.
Look, when I vacation, I vacation. Which means: sleeping in late, eating out, lazing about, going to see stuff (when I want to), or even staying in and just soaking up the atmosphere. And when I do go out, I take about 1.5 to 2 hours to get ready. On days that I decide to go sightseeing, I don’t usually get out of the door until about 1 pm.
Yeah. I know. Lol. I’m a pain in the ass. Every single cleaning lady in the hostels I’ve been in have all given me the phat side eye, because while all the other girls in the room have already left, I’m just getting the sand out my eyes.
But that’s the amazing thing about traveling alone. You get to do that. It’s your vacation, your time, your show. So take the spotlight and enjoy it!
2. No negotiating. Ever.
If you want to see the Louvre and the hop over to Marrakesh in that order, you can do it! Want to revisit the same site three or four times? No need to listen to anyone else’s “but we did that already!” Go back and stalk that monument (or the cute guard stationed there, if that’s your true motivation)! Again, your vacay belongs to you.
As a side note on “negotiation”, if I never traveled by myself, I’d never even get to see the world! Most people I know don’t have the time, money, or the desire to travel. And while I understand their reasons, I need to remember that those are their reasons, not mine. I’m definitely not negotiating in those waters! Gotta make my own path. Traveling’s where my heart goes, and I go with it!
3. MORE WRITING TIME!
Earth to all writer-backpackers: need I say more? If you’re traveling alone, you get to fill up all those “you” hours with tons and tons of writing. Much as I love my friends, my fam, and my life back in the States, I can’t even begin to express how much of a blessing being 3000+ miles away has been for my writing. When you’re abroad, it’s generally a little harder to communicate (cheaply). Yes, we have Skype dates, international calling cards and SIM cards, and the all-notorious Facebook, but in truth, when we’re on the road in a different country, staying in touch gets rough. (Besides, you paid money to travel and see new things, not to spend most of your vacay on the phone with folks you already know!)
So how do I fill my empty time? I write. In fact, I’ll be done with tv pilot and with another pass over my novel by the time this vacay is over… a feat that is way harder to achieve when everyone back home has access to me. So take advantage of this precious alone time, writers, and do what you do and love best: WRITE.
4. If you don’t know how to do it already, you learn to be happy with yourself and by yourself. In other words, it helps you grow up.
Many people simply don’t know how to be alone. Some folks just have super close friends and fam and can’t imagine living without them (or without their emotional / physical / financial support, let’s be real). Others are genuinely afraid of being alone due to inner insecurities, fear of self, fear of looking like a loser or of feeling unloved, fear of change. Others get bored easily by themselves (though I argue that only boring people get bored, so feel free to take that to the bank)! And there are obviously many other reasons people are afraid of being alone.
Whatever your reason is, though, use traveling alone as an opportunity to face your fears. If you’re not afraid of being alone but just would “rather not”, then use this as an opportunity to challenge yourself, grow, and try something new. Facing challenges by yourself can be very educational and will help you to discover things about yourself that you never knew. When I came back from my 6-week solo backpacking trip through Europe in 2011, I genuinely felt that I could do anything. I had gone through some crazy challenging experiences, and they helped me to grow tons. I’m not saying you should put yourself in danger, but give yourself a chance to evolve in the spirit of adventure!
5. Because in truth, you are never truly alone.
In every city, especially if you are staying in hostels, there are tons of ways to be social. In fact, it’s a little hard to avoid! Hostels have tons of activities going on for your traveler’s pleasure. Pub crawls, contests, parties… some hostels even have their own bars, clubs, restaurants, and lounges. Want a little company? Sit around in a hostel bar or lounge for a little while towards mid-afternoon or evening… trust, people will begin to file in, and you’ll have some delightful company in no time!
Oh, and if you’re sharing your room at a hostel? Forget it! You’ll never be alone. Right now, I’m sharing a room with 25 (yes TWENTY AND FIVE) other girls on the road. Yeah. Going solo is not nearly as “solo” as you’d think. At the end of the day I actually get a little annoyed sometimes because I need some “me” time in my bed, and just can’t get it, LOL.
So, in conclusion, give solo traveling a shot. You have everything to gain, not really much to lose. And if you’re concerned about safety, especially if you’re a chick traveling alone, then stay tuned for a future post on some awesome safety tips for solo travelers. Follow those tips, and you’ll be a pro at safe solo traveling in no time!
Now, let me get out of here. I’m in a Vietnamese restaurant with my stuff spread out all over the table, because hey, you get to make an entire table your own writer’s lair when you’re a solo writer-backpacker. Teehee!
Keep it indie,