I recently took my first solo trip which was also my first backpacking trip. I set off for nine days in Spain (Barcelona, Valencia, and Madrid) staying in hostels. This trip was a personal goal for myself. I always admired other girls and women for doing it, and thought what is stopping me?
The same thing that stops a lot of others. Will I be safe? Will I get bored? Will I meet anyone? There were so many questions in my mind traveling to a new country alone where I was not fluent in the language. I was tired of doubting myself and just bought the plane ticket so I couldn’t back out.
So there I was. Face to face with a 9 day trip through Spain… alone.
But you know what? I survived. I came out stronger, met really amazing people, and I learned a lot.
I think a lot of people gloss over traveling and solo travel, “oh it is sooooooo amazing, it will change you forever…” etc. etc. etc. I will say that it was a very important experience, but it all depends on you! I saw other solo female travelers who didn’t seem to be having very positive experiences, they kept to themselves, didn’t put any effort in interacting with anyone and did not appear to be very happy.
I personally tried to create a balance, because I wanted some alone time. I wanted to wander the streets alone, splurge on dinner with sangria alone, lay on the beach alone, and eat all of the ice cream I could.. alone. I also interacted with people at the hostels. I went to the dinners and events and just wandering into the lounge and started chatting with people. This is so important!
If you hide in your room the entire time, you will probably have a miserable time, unless you really want to be absolutely alone. I met a lot of great fellow travelers who were wandering around the world. Some of who I am still in touch with and plan to meet in the future when our travel plans cross paths. How amazing is that?
Travel brings people together. Exploring new cultures and cities is a priceless experience, and sharing that with someone is very meaningful.
In Madrid a very lovely girl I met in an online travel group invited me to her home and planned this incredible dinner so that I could try local dishes. Even her family members prepared dishes and sent them over. Spain was such a warm and welcoming place I can’t wait to go back.
After my trip I was asked what it was like to travel alone. It was very freeing. I was able to do anything and everything I wanted without compromise (except for with my bank account). I won’t lie, there were moments I felt so bored and lonely, wishing I had someone to talk to, but I also had days where I wanted to just be alone without speaking to anyone.
Being in a new place, forcing myself out into the world, forcing myself to stumble over Spanish, forcing myself to meet new people, and forcing myself to experience more I wouldn’t change it for anything. In my mind I am already thinking where can I go alone next?!
Have you ever traveled alone? What was your experience like? Any tips for others thinking to take the jump?
Owner of wanderinghelene.com. Anthropologist, content creator, castle explorer, coffee drinker, and lover of markets and very old places!