I recently went on the trip of a lifetime, ticking off countless places I had on my bucket list, living my dream. What made this different to any other vacation is that I chose to do this solo. Though this trip was in the USA, a country which I have been living for the last year, I was still met with a range of reactions from surprised to keenly interested. There does seem to be an air of mystery about solo travel to those who haven’t taken the plunge and done it themselves. I hope that by answering some of the common questions I got on this trip I will help to normalise the idea of it and even inspire some of you out there to go for it.
To me this was a natural decision. It was, after all, my dream trip. By going alone I wouldn’t need to compromise one bit with the itinerary. This was my dream and by travelling solo, I could live it to the fullest. It is a stereotype proliferated by social media that if you are alone, or by yourself you are somehow worse off. I don’t fully buy into this as I am comfortable in my own company and with a trip like this, I even prefer it. I know that not everyone shares my interests of hiking and nature so it often lessens my enjoyment if I go with someone who isn’t going to enjoy it. Don’t let the fear of going alone stop you from doing the things you want to do.
Did you get lonely?
No, not at all. After setting out with the expectation of spending two weeks by myself, I was surprised by how little I felt alone. I packed my days so full of activities and sightseeing that I had very little opportunity to feel anything other than excitement.
The truth is, in a developed country such as the US, you can be as connected as you want to your loved ones. You can get the internet everywhere these days and the comfort in knowing you can message anyone is enough. A huge motivation for my travels is to take photos. As I shared these along the trip it helped me stay connected with those back home and share my experiences as they happened.
Another smart decision was in the sort of accommodation I went for. I preferred dorm rooms over hotel rooms so that I could have the chance to meet people in the evenings when I wasn’t out and about exploring.
Did you ever feel unsafe?
The easiest answer to this is no. I worry about everything, so I can’t say that I didn’t worry about safety on this trip. The trick to this was organisation. I had all my accommodation booked before starting off on the trip. I gave my itinerary to my boyfriend so someone would know where I was heading every day and where I would be staying. I also stayed in contact constantly, posting my trip as I went to social media.
Also, when I did go out hiking, to mitigate the risk of doing this by myself I hiked on busy trails, went with a guided group or even approached other hikers on the trail and asked if I could join them (I was in bear country after all). In this way I had company and if anything were to go wrong there were people around that could help.
What if something goes wrong?
Things did go wrong, and I survived. I had engine problems, I flattened my car battery, and one day I almost lost my car keys. But in each situation I handled it like I would at home. In fact, it is moments like these when you get through it or sort it out that make you feel amazing, like you can do anything.
For anyone dreaming about their perfect vacation, I say take the plunge and do it on your own. The main advice for people thinking about it is to research, more than you would a trip with others. Regardless, you will have the time of your life, learn about yourself and have amazing memories to boot.
Follow Claire on Instagram for amazing photos of her travels