In the last year or so I’ve done a lot of travel by myself - mostly because of work. Now as a card carrying introvert the idea of being alone doesn’t really bother me - in fact I find it very peaceful. However I was still initially nervous about being in public by myself and doing things that are traditionally group activities like going out to dinner or sightseeing. I feel like this is what most people are nervous about - that you’ll look weird, or you’ll feel lonely.
Once I started travelling I realised that I really enjoyed being by myself and travelling alone. I also worked out how to get past my nerves. I thought I would share my tips for being confident and having fun when you travel solo.
Choose your schedule
When you travel alone you are the only person who has a say on your schedule and it is so important to take advantage of this. I love when I travel solo because it means I can decide on a whim to go for a walk on the waterfront, have a post work day cocktail or relax in the bath.
Although it is a lot of fun to travel with your lover or friends there is something so liberating about not needing to discuss your plans with anyone. It also means you can follow your passions without worrying about whether it’s boring or frustrating anyone.
For example I really enjoy going on walks with my camera - I always feel a bit guilty taking so much time to take photographs and play around with composition when I’m travelling with others - so I like that I can spend 10 minutes setting up and taking photographs without delaying anyone except myself.
I know it’s very nerve wracking to go to dinner all by yourself. Every time I do it I wonder if anyone is staring at me or calling me a loser in their head. I try to take an attitude that people:
a) don’t think I’m weird for dining alone and;
b) may even think I’m kind of cool for being brave enough to be sitting alone in a restaurant.
So when I walk into a restaurant or bar I pretend that everyone is so amazed by how self possessed I am. It sounds kind of weird but it really works - pretending to feel unbothered by the opinions of others tricks my brain into actually feeling like that - which is a lot more fun than awkwardly slinking into a restaurant and sitting in the back where no one can see me, rushing through my meal so I can retreat to my hotel room.
If you’re wondering what to do whilst you eat or drink you can:
Read a book
People watch: I love to sit at the bar so I can watch what the wait staff are doing as well as the customers (plus sitting at the bar in a restaurant makes me feel very cool)
Listen to podcasts: this is my personal favourite because you don’t need to need to try and balance eating and holding a book plus you can still people watch.
When you travel alone you have a rare opportunity to focus. I find when I’m travelling solo I get so much done - in particular on the plane - because I just have so much time on my hands. The downside of course is that with all this peaceful time on your hands if you don’t bring things to sufficiently entertain yourself you will get bored very very quickly.
So I like to take a few different options for entertainment - I’ve already mentioned podcasts but other suggestions include:
Audio books: I’m a total Audible convert
Colouring books: Particularly useful for the plane
Laptop: I love to settle in on the plane and get a ton of work done.