first solo trip

Things I wish somebody told me before my first solo trip

My bags were (almost) packed. A bottle of blue pills sat on the table in front of me, along with the prescription for how many and how often to take my anti-malaria medication. My stomach flip-flopped with nervous excitement. I had been here before. But this time was…different. I was going alone.

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A lot of thoughts ran through my head. Voices from my co-workers telling me I was crazy for travelling to Egypt by myself, especially as a woman. Memories from the times I’d travelled before but with a group (studying for a semester in Mexico), with my family (visiting my grandparents in Germany), or with a friend (travelling to Italy, Greece, and Turkey).

first solo trip
Fear and excitement coursed through my body in equal amounts. I couldn’t sleep. I wondered if I was doing something dangerous or naive. If I was risking everything familiar and safe for an experiment. If I was pushing the limits of my own life too far to ever come back.

It might seem silly, but a lot of decisions were resting on the success or failure of my first solo trip. If I could hack it for two months during an internship in Ecuador, my plan was to come home and quit my job to travel even longer. My first solo trip was a turning point. A test.

Five years later, I can say I passed with flying colors. I did return and quit my job. I went on to travel solo for 14 months around the world to places like France, Ghana, and Morocco.

Along the way, I learned a lot. But I always credit my first solo trip for giving me the courage to follow my dreams. I want to pass some of that courage on to you, too. Here’s what I’ve learned and advice I wish somebody told me before my first solo trip.

 

1. Trust your own inner voice the most

A lot of people have a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Whenever you start taking risks in your own life, it can make those around you feel uncomfortable. Anytime someone questions the status-quo or does something that takes courage, it kicks up a lot of fear. That’s normal.
However, if you have the desire or vision to do something BIG, trust it. The resources, support, and bravery you need to pursue your dreams will come. Listen to the voice inside that’s curious, hopeful, and passionate about coming ALIVE. The more you learn to tune out the other voices, the more they’ll just become background noise and the easier it will be to ignore the doubt, worry, or fear that holds you back.

first solo trip

2. Go at your own pace

The best thing about travelling solo is that YOU get to make all of the decisions. Maybe you fall in love with a certain city or country and want to stay….forever. Maybe you get to a destination and realize it’s not all you thought it would be.

Move on, or don’t. No matter how much planning or preparation has gone into your first solo trip, it’s okay to adjust. Find your own rhythm and don’t apologize if the beat changes.

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3. Don’t expect to be alone for very long

Travellers are some of the friendliest, most generous people you’ll ever meet. And there are a lot of them. No matter where you go, you’ll inevitably encounter other people who are on their first solo trip (or third or hundredth) and are excited to share their adventure with you. Let them.
first solo trip

One of my very first travel mentors was a woman named Elisavet from Greece who was travelling South America solo. We met in Ecuador and immediately connected. I asked her all of the questions I had about travel gear, relationships, loneliness, and what it was really like to leave home to travel long-term. She was more than happy to share her experiences with me and we had so much fun creating our own adventures together! So, excuse us for spoiling it– we bet you won’t be alone for that long!

4. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone (even yourself)

Why is solo travel such a big deal, anyway? I think the biggest reason is freedom. It gives you the freedom to go where you want, when you want. To be who you want to be. Freedom to change, to explore, to reinvent yourself or rediscover the you you’ve always been.
That being said, you don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Maybe solo travel isn’t for you and you realize you just want to go home. Maybe you feel like your first solo trip has to look a certain way, or live up to certain expectations you (or others) might have. Let that sh*t go.

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Travelling solo is not about anything but you and the pursuit of your own inner freedom. If you happen to make amazing friends and eat delicious food and change the world and dance with joy while doing it, even better. If not, that’s okay too. Because….

5. You can always come back home

Two years after my first solo trip in Ecuador, I realized it was time for me to stop travelling and go home. I was even more scared than when I first began my backpacking adventures. I didn’t know what going home would mean for my future. I wasn’t sure how it would feel after all of my time away, or how my life might change, again.

For me, coming home has been its own adventure. The lessons I’ve learned while travelling solo have changed how I see everything, including where I come from. The places I’ve seen and the people I’ve met are part of me and always will be.
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Maybe you decide to go home earlier than expected. Maybe you create a new home for yourself in a corner of the world you’ve grown to love. Maybe you realize home is always with you, no matter how far your feet may go.

7 replies
  1. Sheriff
    Sheriff says:

    I wanna spent rest of my life doing this and not sure if it will work out ?
    I think people will get tired of travelling and at one point wanna settle down and go easy on life

    Reply
    • Carla
      Carla says:

      Yeah… sooner than later people discover themselves… Is this kind of websites and world that pushes you to travel like crazy, when you probably can do it without so much fuss (travelling, spending, etc… ) and looking into your inner

      Reply
  2. Steven Corradi
    Steven Corradi says:

    I’m trying to set up my first workaway and, even though I’m older (54), one of my 2 “inner voices” is scared silly that my health problems will rear their ugly head at the worst possible time. The other voice says screw it, if something is going to happen, it might as well be in the country I have wanted to return to for 25 years. Strangely, everyone I have spoken to about doing this agrees with my “2nd voice”.

    Reply
  3. Hillie
    Hillie says:

    Hi Steven,
    Being scared is logical. But if you do it…. and it isn’t as you expected in any way (your health, the place, the people, the work), you ‘ll know it, but you tried. You gave it a shot. If you don’t go, you keep on doubting. If you are afraid because of your health; be aware of the fact that health problems grow getting older. The longer you wait, the bigger the chance you won’t go. You waited almost 50% of your life for this chance. Take it, with both hands. Being afraid means just out of your comfort zone. Out of your comfort zone means it makes you feeling alive and makes you stronger.
    You can do it, you will do it, enjoy, feel alive, feel great, live is laughing to you.
    😉

    Reply

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