I was prepped for panic months before I boarded my first ever plane to Ireland in 2011. From warnings to advice to stories that travelled down the line, I think heard it all. It’s a wonder I ever got on the plane to start with, must less without the supposedly much needed wedding ring. But while I was preparing to be the next victim of human trafficking I missed out on some pretty important knowledge. Things that, had I been told in advance, would have made me feel safer and more prepared for what I was getting into. So for everyone that has ever asked me for first time solo travel advice, here it is. Whether you are male or female, these are my top 3 warnings for solo travellers.
1) People Will Try to Kill You
Especially the locals. From pulling you into a conversation, to adding free dessert or a drink to your meal, to inviting you into their homes; the kindness displayed by many locals is overwhelming. After all, the same way in which you are curious about their culture, they are curious of yours, and as a solo traveller you are easier to approach and engage in conversation.
In some cultures, it’s also just odd or unusual to be alone. I’ve been ‘felt sorry for’ more times than I can count and left shops and restaurants with all kinds of treats and cards with names and phone numbers “just in case”.
Other travellers are also guilty of this, especially families or older couples with children of their own. You will quickly revert back into the child roll as they fuss over you, make sure everything is ok, and offer to help or feed you. It can get a bit overkill, but its also kind of nice.
2) People Will Constantly Be Watching You
As a solo traveller, you will stand out. The same way that you notice people eating alone or going to a movie by themselves in your hometown, locals in the city you are visiting will notice you. But 95% of the time, this is a good thing. These are the people that will step in and stand up for you during the 5% of the time when things get a little sketchy. From bartenders and servers, to shop keepers and hostel/hotel employees, and even your fellow travellers; you can bet you will regularly have someone keeping tabs on you and your whereabouts, especially if you are a woman. It’s not creepy, its comforting and I’ve been thankful more than once for these individuals.
3) You Will be Harassed on a Regular Basis
Travelling alone always brings with it the fear or being lonely, or missing out on things because of your solo status. But since it’s a worry for everyone, it usually isn’t a problem. From car rides, to day trips, to meals or nights out, to just playing tourist, you are bound to have people constantly asking you to join them. So don’t worry about being lonely, unless you come across as an angry, unapproachable person. But even then you will probably still get asked to tag along.
Consider yourself warned 😉