People always advise young girls from travelling alone. Though their concern is usually for safety reasons, I’ve always avoided travelling alone because I thought I would get lonely. After all, aren’t the beautiful places in the world better enjoyed with the people you love? Then, last summer, a last-minute trip to Europe for a family wedding meant I ended up making plans to travel alone for the first time. And lo and behold, I loved it.
I had journeyed alone to other countries before, but this was different. Other times, I had met up with friends or stayed with people I knew. This time, I was travelling to Budapest, Vienna, and Salzburg before meeting up with family in Zurich, which meant for the two weeks before Switzerland, I was truly alone.
I wasn’t nervous for my safety, but I was prepared for not having a travel companion. I packed several books and a travel journal, expecting to have a lot of time to myself. Instead, to my utter surprise, the exact opposite happened. I was so busy making new friends and going out that I couldn’t steal a moment to myself!
The small hostel I stayed at in Budapest was prime for meeting other travellers. Every day I was heading out with other travellers – English, Australian, British, and Finnish, to name a few – to sightsee and drink in the evenings. I even travelled to Austria with the Australian and met up with the Brazilians in Vienna. Meeting other people, finding things to do, and making new friends were so much easier than I had anticipated. Safe to say, I didn’t crack a single one of my books on the trip.
More recently, I took a trip to South Africa. Since I was there for a wedding, for the first half of the trip I was in a large group made up of all the Canadian guests. Afterwards, my boyfriend and I went off on our own road trip. While I enjoyed myself and had a fabulous time, it really highlighted all the things I loved about travelling by myself. The excitement of being by myself, exchanging stories with other travellers I had just met, and pretty much doing whatever I wanted were all absent. There was little unpredictability and spontaneity and I missed it.
Even so, I was glad that I was never alone on this trip and that was for my safety. Before leaving, I was very aware of South Africa’s reputation for violent crime, and my friends didn’t help by worrying and advising me not to go. I’m incredibly glad I didn’t take their advice and went anyway, but I’m also glad I wasn’t alone. As much as I am a strong, independent woman and traveller, it was reassuring to always be with someone else. While I never felt threatened, and I felt very safe in large cities such as Cape Town, the extended road trip my boyfriend and I took through rural areas could have been a lot more dangerous on my own. What if the car had broken down? What if I had been stranded? What if I had been lost in an unsafe area? Having another person, especially a male, made those travels a lot safer.
Looking back, I can conclude that my travels in South Africa didn’t change my feelings on travelling alone. I still love it, and it’s still my preferred method of travel. However, I was reminded that it is important to be smart about it, and I acknowledge that some locations are safer for solo travelling than others. If I were to visit South Africa again by myself, I would stick to the large cities and I wouldn’t take a solo road trip. But I wouldn’t be afraid to go. I look forward to travelling alone again, even though I don’t know when or where it will be, and I hope everyone out there tries travelling alone too. Even if you think it’s not for you I hope you’ll try it, even just once – you never know, it might surprise you. After all, it did for me.
It’s true when you travel alone you have the best chance of meeting new people and of course you can do whatever you want (even if that includes sleeping all day or changing your plans every other minute) without upsetting anybody 🙂
Gotta love that laissez-faire approach to travel!
Hey Megan! In a month I’ll be traveling to Budapest alone! could you recomend a hostel for me to stay? I’m completly clueless and would apreciate the help 🙂
Hi Filipa, in Budapest I stayed at The Loft Hostel, which I highly recommend. It was very homey and clean and it was a small place so it was very easy to meet other travellers there. Maybe not the best place if you’re looking for some peace and quiet, but definitely a great place to make some new friends to go adventuring with. Here’s their website: http://www.lofthostel.hu/. Hope that helps!
In a week I am leaving to Germany. I am going to be alone. I am little nervous, as it is my first solo trip. I am planning to buy a SIM, possibly Travelsim. Anybody heard?
I use travelsim in my every trip, I was in Germany this spring, worked fine. It’s worth trying.
Hope my comment is useful.
Have a great trip!
Thanks for your feedback here Cecilia. Greatly appreciated!
Hope that your trip was a good one Ellie, and that Cecilia’s feedback was helpful.
Your trip to Budapest sounds wonderful and what a beautiful picture! I traveled to Sydney solo and that 24 hour flight alone was a killer. But like you I made tons of friends. I didn’t stay in a hostel because I saw that movie too many times, but I did stay a cheap hotel ibis Sydney World Square in the heart of CBD so everything was within walking distance. I made so many friends. It was a trip of lifetime.
That’s the exact reason why I’ve never watched that movie! I’m pretty sure I’d never stay in a hostel again after watching it. Hopefully you’ll feel comfortable enough one day to stay in a hostel – it is a great experience!
I’ve actually read great reviews on hostels : ) I’m just being a girl! Haha. Thanks Megan!
Traveling alone is complicated experience for first timer, but after having such experience one time anyone can travel alone. It’s fun. To make lots of friends I think traveling alone is better.
I really enjoyed reading your traveling alone story. Budapest journey seems to me quite a good one, & that image from above to complete city is totally wonderful.
Thanks for sharing traveling experience here. 🙂
I really enjoyed reading your traveling alone story.Its great experience to traveling alone in first time..I think its not so easy to start , but after having such experience one time anyone can travel alone. traveling alone is better way to make lots of friends.
Travelling alone will lead you to a fresh experience and a lot of adventure. It will definitely be tough to travel alone but once an individual is used to it, it will be a lot more enjoyable. Travelling alone will lead you in making new friends from different cultures and learn a lot of things.
Traveling alone has advantages and disadvantages both, but it depends on the person who likes to be alone enjoys it and those who like to be with others don’t enjoy.
Thanks for sharing! Any chance you remember the hostel you stayed at in Budapest? I am headed there next month and on the hunt for a clean hostel where I can meet some travelling buddies. Thanks in advance!
Never put yourself in a situation where you may end up stranded, the only woman, or obligated to strangers in some way.
Strive for “Hello/Goodbye,” “Thank you,” “That was delicious,” and “Where’s the toilet?” I swear by Lonely Planet Phrasebooks, available in just about every language imaginable.
People who have never traveled alone often describe their first solo trip as an almost religious experience. To take in new surroundings unfiltered by the prejudices, tastes or preferences of a traveling companion can be heady stuff. Traveling alone gives you the chance to indulge yourself fully.
I’m thinking about going to budapest in novmeber. I have never traveled alone and tbh im weighing in about living in a hostel because sometimes i want to be alone and sleeping with strangers isn’t really my thing. Anyone have advice and or is thinking of going?
LOVE this!! I used to worry about feeling alone as well but recently have been traveling by myself and it’s so amazing!! You get to know yourself more 🙂 My introverted side loves it. LOL
ZA was the first place I ever traveled to alone, and saw it’s reputation of being full of violent crime very unfounded.
Just like any other city, there could be danger in certain pockets, but just be smart about it and don’t go anywhere questionable after hours.
Ever since then, I’ve exclusively traveled alone because I love being able to do anything I want at my pace, and make new friends as I go along!