When embarking on your first real solo travel adventure you are filled with questions. Ten years ago the internet didn’t provide these questions, so let me answer the top 10 most asked questions by solo travelers.
1. What is the one thing you know now but would have loved to know beforehand.
I think I would have loved to know the scale of solo travelers. When I started solo traveling the only thing I heard was that it is too dangerous to go alone. But even alone you are strong in numbers. When you stay at a hostel you will find so many like minded travelers. Take that as an advantage.
2. Have you ever cancelled a trip because it was too dangerous?
Yes and no. I do a lot of research before I travel somewhere. Last solo trip was to Paris between all the terrorist attacks. Disney was a hot spot for rumours for terrorist attacks. Why not attack the western most loved icon?
But I didn’t cancel, I did research on what Disney did to prevent this from happening. On every entrance from the outside world to the magical place inside. This made me feel a lot saver.
One thing I didn’t find out but after I came back was that Orly airport had also a minor attack by a guy attacking soldiers at Orly airport. He did that in the name of ISIS, so if I had known that before would I have flown to Orly? Maybe not.
3. What are your strategies on deflecting unwanted attention from people.
For me that depends on where I want to travel to. If I’d travel to the US I would act like I was a local. I can’t do a British accent so I’d make my story that I was an expat living there. Being seen as a local has a lot of advantages when people want something from you.
In Amsterdam I’m often seen as an American tourist. I don’t look Dutch at all. So when somebody tries to sell me a water or power contract, I’m a tourist. When I notice a taxi or shop tries to scam me I bring out my best Amsterdam accent so they know not to mess with me.
Blending in helps a lot, don’t be a unicorn in public.
4. As someone who is planning his/hers first solo trip, what is the best advice you can give?
Plan everything and research everything. The moment you are alone it will hit you that you have to do everything alone. When I started there weren’t really smartphones with apps that would help you with everything, but when technology fails, you will have to go back to basics.
Try to investigate everything. Airports tend to use the same gates everyday for the same flights. So if you can find that the flight left at Gate E7 yesterday, find the best route to E7 tomorrow.
Find the best ways to get to the hotel/hostel/Motel, because when you panic you will be more likely to make mistakes that can cost you money or your health. Be prepared for anything.
5. Do you know of any networks for Solo Travelers.
More often than not your friends or friends of friends have done Solo traveling before you did. Maybe the parents of friends have traveled back in the 60’s and 70’s when it became popular to travel solo.
Your own social network might be your best bet for any advice from people.
Interpals is also a really good networking site for travelers. I often get questions from people going to Amsterdam. Most of the questions are if they could stay with me to save money. But often people ask me advice to learn from a local.
6. How do you deal with loneliness
My best advice would be to put on some music and use that as your personal soundtrack. Walk through a busy street with a lot of people around, you are never alone. Maybe go see a movie in the local cinema, that kills some time before you have a diner reservation.
But music is my best way to battle loneliness, who can feel lonely when they have an epic soundtrack on their adventure?
7. Have you found it difficult to talk to locals?
No, I can’t say that I have ever found it difficult to talk to any of the locals. Sometimes the language can be a challenge, but with google translate that barrier is quickly lifted.
Yes it might be scary to talk to a stranger out in the big world, but if you are polite doors will open. Or as in a Dutch saying: “No you have, yes is obtainable”. That means that you are already guaranteed to have no as an answer, but a yes is always right next to it, so why not try?
8. Did you notice any inequality between male and female solo travelers?
One thing that I did notice is that female travelers tend to group up more than male travelers. But I have not noticed any inequality between genders at all. Everyone is there for the same purpose and goals might differ.
9. Is there a specific age group for solo traveling?
It’s a fact that people between 18 and 30 tend to travel solo much faster than younger or older people. But as far as I know there are no laws on how old you should be when traveling solo. Older people do tend to travel with their SO faster than alone and their goals are different now. Maybe they want to start a family?
But there is no specific age restrictions and nobody will look differently to a 45 solo traveler than an 18 year old solo traveler.
10. Have you ever thought: “Sh*t, what am I doing with my life?”
Yes of course, if you don’t question your life choices you will never grow in life. Should I get a normal 9 to 5 job? It’s better for a stable lifestyle yes, but that is not me. You shouldn’t want to either. Just have fun in life, travel whenever you want and can. If you want to travel the world solo, go for it, no matter the age you have or gender you are.
I hope that this list of frequently asked questions helps you on your journey of solo traveling, if you have any questions, please ask away!