Do I think everyone should do it at least once in their life? Yes.
Travelling solo does not mean you have to take a sabbatical for a year or leave your job. Taking a few weeks off might be just enough. To make it easier for yourself, choose your dream destination, pack your things and go.
Why? There can be many reasons. I just wanted to know myself better. Sure, there are many ‘I know myself experts’ out there who know where their career is heading, have a stable life, family and friends. What more do you need, right? Well, I used to have that too.
However, over the past year and a half I ended up waking up to the same question every day: Is this it? Maybe I just got too comfortable. I mean who would not be. Imagine you live in Amsterdam, have a great career ahead of you, an even better team to work with, love, amazing friends and family. What more do you want, right? Well, it’s almost perfect, except for the fact that my pup still lives back in our lovely Slovakia(for the time being). I am sure there are people out there thinking, she must be crazy to leave all of this behind: security, stability and comfort.
Am I thought? I think, yes and no. I mean, I miss my life in Amsterdam every single day. I also quickly learnt about the things I value most in life. And it’s not always comfortable travel. However, as they say, the magic starts outside of your comfort zone. So as uncomfortable as it can sometimes be, it’s great to deviate from routine and have an unpredictable day. Also, the more prepared you leave for this journey, the more you will enjoy it. Well, prepared to a certain extent, because there will be a bunch of things you won’t be able to control, but you will learn as you go. So what are the few takeaways from my solo adventure so far?
- Questions will become your basic survival kit
If you don’t ask, you won’t get. Questions will get you far, whether you want to get somewhere, find something or someone. It will almost feel like the first month at your new job. Everyone has a lot of questions; just don’t be afraid to ask. I’m not sure where you’ll be travelling, but wherever you go, make sure you know at least some basic phrases in the language of the country you’re going to go. Alternatively, carry a language guide with you or try using body language.
2. You can become a traveller overnight, but you won’t survive the night without a penny in your pocket
Don’t believe in every single article that encourages you to leave your job & travel the world. Well, unless you:
a) Really cannot stand your current workplace;
b) You cannot stay because your company does not offer a sabbatical to its employees;
c) Already have a successful business that allows you to work remotely;
d) Have already become an active digital nomad/ social media influencer;
e) You are willing to work as a bartender, help out in hotels & restaurants, teach English or other languages during your travels, etc.
f) Are a rich b****.
I did not have the option to take a sabbatical nor did I want to lose the opportunity to travel for a longer time, so I chose to save up & leave. Also, having some financial back up will make you feel less stressed and emotional. You want to enjoy your travels. You don’t want to be anxious while spending money on your trip or worry about whether or not you will survive to the end.
Just to give you an idea, it took me a year and a half to save up & start travelling solo. I had enough time to think through my travel options and save enough money that would allow me to travel comfortably between 6–10 months. Advice: Never underestimate budgeting & planning. It will save you a lot of trouble.
3. Networking will become your everyday mantra
Networking is one of the most important skills you’ll need while travelling. First of all, we are all social creatures, so you can spend only a certain amount of time alone. Secondly, networking will not only help you meet new people, but it could potentially help you land a new, temporary job while travelling. Or you could meet your new life-long friends.
Whether you are social introvert or extrovert, everyone can find their own way. Use meetups, online forums, Couchsurfing, Airbnb events or just talk to people. Once you do, many doors will open for you. You’ll get to listen to amazing life stories and you will let the world know about your own.
4. The global travel community will become your family & inspiration
Travelling alone does not mean you are alone. There are thousands of solo travellers around the world. But if you really do want to be alone, I get it. I spent the majority of my first two weeks alone. I had to clear my head from all the crazy thoughts and to have a fresh start.
But that was about it. Trust me, after some time you’ll be like — okay I just need to talk to someone. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the travel community. As I learnt many times, hearing all the exciting stories from other solo travellers can give you so much energy, motivation and travel advice. Few tips:
@DigitalGoddess & her @jozu4women
Last year I was lucky enough to visit Websummit in Lisbon where I got familiar with this great startup, called JOZU. It is basically an online platform that helps you travel easier, better and safer. I was able to get a lot of good tips for my travel there.
Here is a list of solo travellers & groups that inspired me to do this crazy thing.
@teacakestravel and her Tea Cakes Travel Page
@ExploristaNL & her Luxury Nomads
@Travellust_NL with her lust for travelling the world
@Timetofit & her adventurous travelling
Female Digital Nomads — Facebook Group for solo female travellers/digital nomads
…and many more that are not only for female solo travellers.
5. Star Wars should become your movie bible (or maybe one of them)
Yeah, I am the Star Wars movie fan, sorry guys. If there is one thing the movie taught me, it was determination and resilience Luke Skywalker had during his entire journey. I’d love to say patience as well, but it was not Luke’s biggest strength. Nor is it mine, but I’m getting better.
Both resilience and determination are definitely the two virtues you’ll need on your journey. Just because you’re travelling, it does not mean things are always easy. However, if you are determined to make it the adventure of your life, it will become one for sure. So give it a 100%! As Yoda said…
What more is there? The more is yet to come. For now, the thing I love about the solo travel is the fact that every day is different and a completely new adventure. Despite not knowing how this 3 months journey will end, well, as long as it’s fun & your gut tells you it is the right thing to do, you should just keep going. I mean, what is the worst thing that can happen? Life?
So happy travelling everyone!