Whatever your reasons, taking a solo trip can prove truly liberating, an empowering experience to build your confidence and something to be proud of. Whether your friends are indisposed planning weddings and/or cleaning up nappies, you want to explore amazing places that don’t appeal to your usual circle of travel buddies or you simply want to test your personal limits. Solo travel, done right, is nothing to be afraid of… trust me!
My original reason was that my large group of single, spontaneous friends was diminishing to a small group of single, spontaneous friends due to marital and reproductive agendas. After counting out my otherwise ‘engaged’ pals I was faced with my career drivers and busy social butterflies, for which pinning down a date for a group or even duo holiday seemed the impossible task.
One afternoon, without intention, I started to browse for cheap flights. Mostly scoping out my potential options, hoping to tempt a pal with a cheap flight and a good time! A few phone calls and a little disappointment later, I found myself in dubious possession of return flights to Ibiza. Costing only £25, if I didn’t go, it didn’t matter. Slightly in denial I booked some cheap accommodation, resigning myself to backing out at the last minute.
Seriously early on a cold, sunny and crisp morning I arrived at Gatwick, when it dawned on me that I was doing this, really doing this. What was the worst thing that could have happened? I had already taken a trip to Ibiza a few years ago, so knew the area well enough to get myself around without to much stress, the sun was going to be shining and I would be feeling empowered and free. Exactly what all those solo travel YouTube video’s had been telling me I would!
As it turned out, I wasn’t the only person who thought Ibiza was a great idea. There were a lot of young, alcohol induced, half naked teens living out there own firsts, their first holidays without their parents to hold them back and didn’t they make sure I knew about it! Looking back I should have stayed in a quieter resort, for my first toe dip into the pool of solo travel, I had dived into the deep end of social judgement abroad – fun!
I won’t lie it was a challenging experience at times but also a great one. I was able to do whatever suited me each day, the beach, a day trip into Ibiza town to explore the Castell de Eivissa, browse the markets, chill by the pool or just wonder for hours and see what I stumbled across. No debating the agenda for the day with friends or family, trying to balance everyone’s needs. Just pleasing myself. I won’t lie there were quiet, almost lonely moments, but what I learnt is that it’s a great thing to be at ease with your own company, to spend time with your own thoughts and mostly, to be content.
So, first solo trip completed, box ticked, I felt satisfied that I had achieved what I thought I wasn’t capable of acheiving, however what I didn’t count on was the wanderlust this little weekend away would ignite, I was already thinking about my next trip away.
My next solo assault was a much more relaxing one, albeit still down to the reason that I couldn’t pin down one of my travel buds to come with me. An all inclusive week in Antalya, Turkey, at a hotel I’d been to before. Nice, easy and familiar. I really got into the solo swing of things this time, relaxing everyday and not feeling so self-conscious of what other people were thinking and embracing my ‘solo-ness’. My confidence was growing.
Satisfied that I had made enough mistakes, I planned my first solo trip, an intentional solo voyage through choice not circumstance, to places I had not experienced before. I’d wanted to explore the Greek islands for as long as I had been frequenting the nightlife hotspots of the Med through my early adulthood. I had visited Greece many times, but never felt I had been free to explore its charm, beauty and secret spots, spending far too much time in a state of ouzo inflicted hangover or sleeping at the beach getting sunburnt (always wear sun tan lotion…. always). Most of all I craved a real adventure, days where I got up not knowing what I would be doing that day.
So I went, I hiked from Oia to Fira in Santorini, climbed the 300 steps to Amoudi Bay and spent the afternoon eating olives, drinking wine and reading, I tucked into authentic Greek cuisine in Mykonos and watched a stunning sunset, whilst chatting to the bar staff about life on the island over a delicious cocktail. Unpredictable and spontaneous memories in the making right there.
I followed up on ‘my Greek adventure’ with ‘my Greek adventure part II’ the next year, returning to Mykonos with a quick stop off in Athens, before joining my family in Corfu. This year I am planning a little weekend trip to Malta and have a one way ticket booked to Crete, in Greece and who knows where I’ll be at the end of the year. I feel like my solo travels probably don’t compare to those of a ‘real backpacking’ globe trotter, but it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t make me any less proud of myself, make my memories any less vivid or make my wanderlust any less fierce. Maybe I’ll jet off to see the rest of the world this year, maybe I won’t, but it’s me who’ll be choosing, thats for certain.