Solo travel is on the rise. In particular, bookings by female travelers are up by a whopping 88% as reported by HostelWorld. However, many people still experience anxiety at the thought of exploring the world independently. In fact, more than a third of the people we surveyed told us that they had never traveled alone, and felt apprehensive to do so. At Happy Retreats, we believe in the multitude of benefits which solo travel offers, and we want to encourage you to try it for yourself.
Many solo travelers frequently opt for shared accommodation styles in order to reduce costs, meet new people, and ultimately, to forge lifelong friendships with like-minded individuals. However, when asked what would make solo travel easier, the second most common response was a single room.
So, what are the fears surrounding sharing a room, and what can you do to combat them?
Common worries revolve around thoughts of safety for yourself and security of your possessions, as well as anxiety over finding commonality with your room-mate. Remember, most accommodations with shared rooms have safety facilities, such as lockers, which you can use to store your valuables. Also, your roommate is in the same boat as you! For starters, you can find common ground with your experience as a solo traveler. Still, if you’re struggling to overcome this fear, an alternative solution is to pay a supplement for single occupancy.
Furthermore, when traveling solo it’s always worth remembering to check the reviews before booking a place. Lots of positive feedback is a reassuring sign that you’re in good hands.
Traveling in other countries, especially where there’s a language barrier, has its difficulties. Our survey respondents confessed, overwhelmingly, that the most significant factor to make solo travel easier for them, would be an airport transfer.
We suggest that the best way to combat travel anxiety is to be prepared. Ensure you have all your travel documents to hand, such as boarding passes and have checked-in. We advise you to keep both a physical and a digital copy. You may also find it helpful to look on forums of people who made that journey before you, as they could offer you some valuable advice.
Furthermore, apps like Moovit and Google Maps cover transport in a wide variety of countries, so you can relax knowing that wherever you are (almost) you’ll be able to find a way back to your accommodation.
Another possibility is escorted travel arrangements. Many companies offer group touring, so you can make new friends and be accompanied by a guide with experience and confidence in whichever location you wish to explore.
The biggest fear, when it comes to solo travel, seems to be safety, particularly amongst female travelers. Although it is true that this fear is not unfounded, as crime cannot be escaped overseas, ultimately the likelihood of being a victim of crime is incredibly rare. Therefore, we suggest it’s better to practice caution and avoid worrying.
Nonetheless, it’s still worth researching the places you wish to travel, as some major cities do experience a higher crime rate than others. Happy Retreats is located in the region of Murcia in Spain, which is very safe to visit.
Often, travel websites will advise travelers of the countries which should be avoided when alone, but most destinations are relatively safe. GOV.UK has an excellent travel advice section on their website, which is well worth a look.
To summarise, so long as you follow the provided advice, stay in touristy areas, and equip yourself with the necessary information of travel and accommodation, you should be able to enjoy a successful and stress-free holiday.
You may now be ready and rearing to set off on your solo adventure now you’ve addressed these common fears, but there is just one more important consideration; money. It’s true, holidays can be expensive, and when doing it alone, single supplements may up the cost significantly. For those who don’t know, single supplements are extra costs which companies charge, as they typically lose money accommodating solo travelers. One way to cut back on costs is by traveling to a destination with relatively cheap living costs. For example, food prices in Poland and Spain have been found to be cheaper than in other parts of Europe. Also, the cost of accommodation, particularly Airbnb’s, varies across European countries. Other ways of traveling cost-effectively include Workaway and other schemes where you get free accommodation and sometimes food, in exchange for a set amount of work per week.
A lack of experience with solo travel and general solitude may mean that a fear that arises is that of loneliness. It is one thing spending a day alone, but another thing being alone in a foreign country, which requires a level of self-sufficiency and independence that younger people, in particular, may be lacking.
Not to worry, there are many ways to combat loneliness. For one, so long as you are willing to be sociable on your solo travel ventures, then a hostel could be the perfect place for you. Hostels are an excellent way to make new friends with a similarly keen sense of adventure. Keep in mind that it is totally normal to experience feelings of anxiety around meeting new people, and actually, other solo travelers are in the same boat as you and will be equally keen to make friends.
Another alternative is to find a retreat. Retreats give you the opportunity to travel solo, meet new people, eat communally, and enjoy doing something that resonates with you. There’s a misconception that retreats are solely related to yoga and meditation, but that’s incorrect. There are plenty of retreats that offer other activities such as walking, cycling, and exploring amongst other things.
There is something liberating about traveling solo and meeting new people who don’t have preconceived judgments about you. Just think, you can be whoever you want to be! Even better, any social mistakes or awkwardness don’t have long term consequences, as you don’t necessarily have to see the people you meet on holiday again.
Surprisingly, according to forums, eating alone can be a big issue for solo travelers. Often this is to do with loneliness or social anxiety when eating in public spaces without company. Remind yourself that other people are unlikely to notice you eating alone, and even if they did, they wouldn’t think it to be unusual in any way.
However, if you don’t want to eat alone, staying somewhere social will help you find friends to enjoy food with. At Happy Retreats, we value eating together for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so you can look forward to great conversations whilst sharing delicious and nutritious food. There’s also the option to prepare your own meals in a hostel, as well as eat communally with other guests. Additionally, apps such as Backpackr and Tourlina are designed to pair you with like-minded travel buddies.
Take the plunge…
Overall, we know that the benefits from solo travel far outweigh the negatives, it’s just about stepping into and embracing the fear you may have, in order to forge some extraordinary memories. At Happy Retreats, we have accommodated a range of travelers, who have all left with an overwhelmingly positive response to their experience. First-time solo traveler, Katherine Hayes, remarked;
“I have always wanted to go on a yoga retreat but always waited for someone to go with me. This time I took the plunge and went alone, my only regret is that I waited so long…From the minute I stepped off the plane I was looked after and made to feel so welcome.”
Dana Sheanon, another solo guest, recollects how she found it “easy to feel immediately relaxed”.
So now you’ve acknowledged these common fears, you know what you need to do. Why not spend some time with us, on your first-ever solo adventure, you won’t regret it.