Almost every time I return home from a trip abroad, more specifically a solo trip abroad I am bombarded with an abundance of messages. They either ask how I do it or state how they can't. The first I enjoy reading and responding to, as it gives me an opportunity to enable, educate and inspire others to see more of the world. The second statement, not so much.
Don't get me wrong I absolutely understand that people excel or are excited by different things in life and what works for one, won't necessarily work for another. However it doesn't make it any easier to read the devastating, self-depreciating comments that people state as to why they are unable to travel. I can't help but partially blame the media for brainwashing and allowing a subconsciously negative, one-sided opinion of solo travel be consumed, accepted and filtered throughout the mind of the general public, through mainstream publications.
So here I am, Shonagh Mulhern uncovering the truth, highlighting the reality and annihilating the ridiculous myths of Solo Travel.
Isn't travelling alone more expensive?
Ok, without sounding like the 11+ examination paper.. If Mary went to a shop where apples cost 10p and she bought one for herself on Tuesday and three for her family on Wednesday, on which day did Mary spend less money?
Point and case. Solo travel is not more expensive than travelling with more people. Most of the time it's actually a hell of a lot cheaper and at worst, it's equal. The only thing you have to keep in mind with solo travel is sacrifice. Although you will spend less money on accommodation, the type of accommodation you will inhabit may take some getting used to.
Hostels are the go-to for many travellers, specifically solo travellers. Cheap, safe and surrounded by like minded people, what's not to love?
The only difference in comparison to a hotel is as follows:
I have stayed in hostels, over 30 times to date and have only ever encountered two bad experiences, one of which was quickly resolved - the other I had to just deal with.
Another thing to note in regards to cost is your personal availability. I've been lucky in a sense that over recent years I've held casual jobs which have allowed me to jet off for longer periods than a career job. Be smart with how and when you book. Use comparison sites such as trivago & skyscanner to compare hostel and flight prices. As far as times of the year to travel, avoid seasonal holidays, bank holidays or the beloved weekend getaway - If you want to jet off for a long weekend it's usually cheaper to book from a Thursday night to a Monday morning in comparison to what It would set you back Friday-Sunday.
Ryanair has been my go-to airline when it comes to solo travel, for years. It's crazy affordable, caters to popular destinations for all ages and interests and they usually have a massive sale on selected seats every few months, (so be sure to sign up the their mailing list). I don't think sacrificing a little leg room is really that hard to do, when being offered the opportunity to see a new European country for less than £15.00, do you? I mean, you'd struggle to find a decent looking dress or pair of jeans in old Primarni these days for fifteen gold coins.
I couldn't travel alone, I'd be too scared
There's probably more likelihood of something bad happening to you, in the country or locality that you currently live in, than there is in the country or locality that you are going.
I feel very strongly about being safe when pursuing travels, not scared. Research for me has always been key. Before I go anywhere new, I will research it in and out. Google - Youtube - Travel blogs, you name it, I will have checked it out.
Staying in hostels as well as being affordable, puts my mind at ease. If I rented an apartment or even a hotel by myself, I'd probably be more scared than staying in hostel, which shocks so many people. But when you stay in the alternatives you are totally alone. Hostels are a hub for like minded travellers, most of which have been in your situation or will be in your situation. You have reception desk staff working sometimes 24 hours a day who are literally paid to help you. Make use of such resources - ask questions, get free maps and explore the city for what it is not what you've been told it is. Most hostels also have common rooms where you can find friends and in most countries especially European countries a large proportion of the population will have a grasp of the English language.
*That's not to say you shouldn't try to learn their language even if it is only basic. Phrases such as please, thank-you, excuse me and common questions you will be asking whilst navigating about your day, will be of great benefit to you.
Avoid scam artists. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Trust in the kindness of people but also question it. A healthy balance of acceptance and inquisitiveness is key in remaining safe whilst enjoying your experience with new people. Trust your gut. If you have a bad feeling about something, there is usually a reason why.
Is it not embarrassing sightseeing by yourself?
Not at all. You know what is embarrassing? Putting your life or dreams on hold, because other people aren't willing to partaking in making them a reality. When I first thought of travelling I remember asking friends and family members did they want to join - but they were too busy either with work, school or life to join at the time and a lot still have been since. So had I have put my plans on pause back in 2012, the reality is I probably still wouldn't have travelled at all. Life stops for no-one. I refuse to miss out on opportunities out of fear. I refuse to neglect my own dreams for the sake of someone else's. As the saying goes,
"Build your own dreams, or someone will hire