Solo Travel: Challenging, but Oh so worth it!! Pic - Bangus Valley, North Kashmir, India. Challenges you face
Solo Travel

Challenges you face while traveling alone – Part 1

These days solo travel has become kind of a fad. Thanks to social media and internet, people mostly see only the beautiful part of solo travel. But, solo travel is way beyond the perfect Instagram-worthy shots; it is not all rosy. There is an ugly side to solo travel; the part about which not many people will tell you. So, here I am sharing the challenges and difficulties you face when you travel alone and how to overcome them.

But before that, don’t forget –

“We were all born with a certain degree of power. The key to success is discovering this innate power and using it daily to deal with whatever challenges come our way.” – Les Brown

1. Safety

Your personal safety and the safety of your stuff is the biggest challenge you face during solo travel. Remember that scene from the movie “Queen” where Kangna Ranaut struggles with a purse snatcher in the middle of a dark and lonely allay of Paris. You cannot deny the possibilities of such incidents.

I am not saying solo travel is dangerous. It is as safe as any other way of travel; just that, when you travel alone, you are more prone to such incidents if you are not careful enough. There is a sense of security you get when you travel in a group; but when you travel alone, you are totally in-charge of your own safety.

Even local goons or bad elements target solo travelers more as they know that they are more vulnerable than someone who is traveling in a group.

Do check out my three-part blog post – 25 safety tips for solo travelers – to know how to overcome the challenge of personal safety while traveling alone.

Solo Travel: Be smart; Be careful. Pic - Beautiful night market at Hoi An, Vietnam.
Solo Travel: Be smart; Be careful. Pic – Beautiful night market at Hoi An, Vietnam.
2. Scams

As a solo traveler, you are more vulnerable to get scammed. When you travel alone, you don’t have the benefit of taking the opinion of any other person (person whom you know) in a given situation.

Again, this does not mean that people who travel in groups do not get scammed; just that, scammers target solo travelers more often than they target a group. This is probably because when scammers target a group, they have to scam so many people together; whereas, when they scam a solo traveler, they have to focus on just one person. It is easier to fool just one person, than to fool many persons together.

One of the best ways to avoid a scam is to do a proper research about the place you are going to visit and to see online if there are any prevalent scams in that area. Usually, you will find such information online.

Always be aware of your surroundings. Stay alert. Don’t trust anyone easily and too soon. Take your time and always go by your gut feeling. If you are not sure about anything, don’t go ahead no matter what.

Be extremely cautious especially in popular tourist destinations. Pic - Monkeying around at Monkey Forest, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Be extremely cautious especially in popular tourist destinations. Pic – Monkeying around at Monkey Forest, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
3. Loneliness

It is extremely difficult for people to fathom being alone, especially in Indian society. Being alone is usually associated with depression. In fact, the feeling of loneliness is one of the major challenges you face if you have never done a solo trip.

Well, after traveling alone for a considerable amount of time, I am of firm opinion that in majority of cases it is simply about learning how to just be with yourself. Since childhood we are surrounded by so many people, that surprisingly, most of us don’t even know how to comfortably be alone and happily live in solitude. We always crave the company of someone, instead of being with our true selves.

I won’t say that you don’t feel lonely at all in a solo trip; of course, you do. But those instances are very few. In fact, especially if you are going for a short solo trip, you hardly feel lonely as there is so much to do and see.

However, there are more chances of feeling lonely at two stages – first, when you just start your first solo trip (in that case, since it is your first time, you are still learning how to be with yourself; this is the time you miss company of your friends and family; but once that initial phase is over, you start loving your solo sojourn); second, when you have been traveling alone for a long period of time (for me, this phase came almost after 6 weeks of solo travel, when I terribly started missing my husband).

In order to know how I overcame the feeling of loneliness while traveling alone, do read my two-part blog post, Why I don’t feel lonely while traveling alone: 7 ways of how not to feel lonely during solo travel.

But, let me be honest with you, the challenge that loneliness throws is something not everyone can learn to manage. It takes lots of time, patience, effort, positivity and self-love to actually be comfortable with just your own company.

Solo Travel: Not so lonely after all! Pic - Enjoying a local circus with hostel friends at Battambang, Cambodia.
Solo Travel: Not so lonely after all! Pic – Enjoying a local circus with hostel friends at Battambang, Cambodia.
4. Exhausting

Solo travel can be exhausting, especially if you are an amateur solo traveler. Since, you are not used to the nitty-gritty of solo travel, initially, you struggle to manage everything on your own. You are fully responsible for your travel, right from planning stage to execution stage. All this does take lot of time, effort and patience.

It is always easier when you have someone to share the load. But, in solo travel, just like you don’t share the rewards, you don’t share the hard work as well. You don’t have fall-back option.

So, whenever you plan a solo trip, be prepared to be in-charge of everything. Although most of the time this is not an issue, sometimes it does become tiring; sometimes you are just not in the mental frame of mind to manage things; during those times, you simply wish there was someone else to do all the job.

During those weak moments, simply take a break and relax. That’s the best part, since you are alone, you are not answerable to anyone for your mood swings. So, if you feel like not doing anything, don’t do it. Let that phase pass, and then do it later with fresh mind.

Solo Travel: Challenging, but Oh so worth it!! Pic - Bangus Valley, North Kashmir, India. Challenges you face
Solo Travel: Challenging, but Oh so worth it!! Pic – Bangus Valley, North Kashmir, India.
Remember!

“If you have a positive attitude and constantly strive to give your best effort, eventually you will overcome your immediate problems and find you are ready for greater challenges.” – Pat Riley

So, let these challenges not scare you from traveling alone; instead, acknowledge them, face them, and then get over them.

This is a two-part blog post. To know more about the other challenges you face while traveling alone, please see Challenges you face while traveling alone – Part 2.

If you are interested in doing a solo trip, then do check out my Solo Travel Series for other blog posts related to solo travel; I am sure, it will be useful to you!

What difficulties have you faced while traveling alone? Which part of solo travel do you find the most challenging? Are you willing to face these challenges? Let me know in comments.

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