The Delights of Traveling: Tips for Traveling Alone
Traveling alone can be a mix of emotions; it can be daunting, it can be exhilarating, it can be lonely.
You have decided to go on an adventure to "find yourself." However, you don't realize how much really goes into trying to plan a trip on your own. You start reading blogs, travel books, etc just to see what other people have done. You feel like you are totally prepared and you take that flight. It finally hits you that you are on your own.
Traveling alone can be some of the scariest things that a person can ever do because you are literally on your own and you need to figure things out for yourself. Of course you have people around you that are going through the same things and you can always call home if you need some advice. But, for someone that has been traveling for a while, it can actually be quite nice to be on your own and figure things out for yourself.
When you travel alone, you are on your own schedule. Obviously, if you are staying at a hostel, there are constant people around and it is great to socialize. However, you also want your alone time to do things for yourself. You wake up when you want, you eat what you want, you do want you want, it is actually quite nice. However, one negative is that if anything were to happen, like getting sick, you don't have anyone to take care of you. I have had a few situations where I was really ill and thank goodness for the people at the hostel that I had met that really helped me by going and getting medicines when I didn't have the energy to go anywhere. But, sometimes it can be hard especially when you are in new place and you don't know anyone and you really need help.
When you are traveling, one of the most important things is that you need to understand your surroundings. You're not in Kansas anymore Toto! You need to understand that wherever you are in the world, people are different. An important things is DON'T THINK YOU'RE BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE. For example, just because you are in a foreign country does not mean you can act like a prick.
I have met quite a few people that will say things to people that are very inappropriate and rub people the wrong way. Generally, when you start a conversation with a new person even at home, you don't talk about the taboo subjects like religion and politics because you really don't know where people stand in these type of situations. However, these people are adamant to show off their views because that is how they are at home with their friends. But, as I said, you are in a new place and people have different opinions so, don't try to shove yours down their throats.
Another thing is GET TO KNOW THE LOCALS. I have to say that when you get to know the locals, they can bring you to some of the places that are not on a tourist's radar. When I was living in Bangkok, I was working with a lot of Thai people and rather than going to all the tourist traps, we ended up going to the local bars and restaurants and those are the places that are the most authentic. Wherever I go, I tend to start talking to the locals because not only will they show you the cool places, but they start opening up to you and they may even give you a discount for things.
Sometimes when you are traveling alone and you meet someone from your home country, you tend to gravitate towards speaking your native language and honestly, I don't blame you especially if that is the one thing that connects you to home in a foreign place. However, sometimes if you are in a group setting, it is kind of rude when you all of a sudden break into your language and the group has no idea what you are saying. So, TRY TO ADAPT. There is nothing wrong with speaking your language, but it depends on the situation. It actually got to a point at a hostel that I was staying at that people were having their own conversations while sitting in a group that we decided that we would make a rule that the first person to start speaking their native language would have to buy a round for the entire group.
Ultimately, the important thing is to BE SOCIAL. I get that everybody is different and some people are introverts by nature, but the whole point of leaving the comfort zones of home is to meet new people and understand new cultures. So, if you are one of those people that literally sit on their phones all day talking to people back home rather than the people in front of you. I ask you this. What was the point of leaving home if you are just going to talk to your friends back home? I mean obviously it is nice to connect with your friends and see what they are up to, but does it have to be all the time?
One thing that is important is to BE SAFE. It does not matter if you are a man or woman, it is very important to be sensible with what you do. For example, if you are going to go out at night, go in a group especially if it is your first time in a foreign place and if you are going to drinking, it is always smart to go out with a group of people because you don't know what might happen. Obviously, I am not trying to scare you but there have been situations where I know people have been very badly hurt or other things because they are alone.