It’s been six months since I traveled the north and south islands of New Zealand alone. From stunning glaciers and giant, snow-capped mountains, to Hobbit holes and peaceful lakes, New Zealand was everything I had ever wanted it to be. And although I was fortunate enough to both make new friends and run into a surprising amount of people I already knew on my journey, I was flying completely solo. Even though New Zealand is an incredibly safe country, I had my concerns about traveling alone for the very first time. Here is what I learned about solo travel:
1. It takes guts to book an entire trip by yourself.
Not only did I have to find plane tickets, book the hostel, plan the itinerary, and make sure I actually had some money left over for food, but I had to physically travel around the country of New Zealand without any real knowledge of how to get from point A to B. Sure, I did some research ahead of time, but when you step off a plane in a brand new country and look around for the first time you begin to feel a mix of excitement, panic, and hunger. Well, at least I’m always hungry when I get off a plane so…
In any case, I was able to find buses, get off at the right stops, and get to and from airports with the help of friendly locals and hostel helpers. But the other part that truly requires some moxy is taking the financial risk of not knowing how the trip will turn out. Yes this is true for any trip you take, but going it alone for the first time has even more unanswered questions and not knowing how you’ll like solo travel is a question mark all by itself.
2. It’s really not that big of a deal.
The biggest lesson I learned from traveling solo through New Zealand was that solo travel wasn’t that scary or in any way a “big deal”. I found my hostel, took some tours, managed to eat fairly well and was smart enough to avoid the very few sketchy situations that I encountered. It was pretty easy after all!
3. Facing challenges when traveling is a little bit harder when you’re alone.
The one thing I will say about solo travel is that being stressed, hungry, alone, and having just lost your passport/suitcase/cell phone/laptop/something expensive and special or any other sort of small personal disaster sucks. It just does. There is no one there to help you look for it, pay for it, or figure out what to do. And truthfully, a friendly stranger is a beautiful thing but they won’t be able to cheer you up like a loved one would. Solo travel requires a thick skin and a relaxed attitude.
4. The more you do it, the easier it gets.
After my first solo trip, I feel both inspired and confident to continue this type of adventuring. Just like anything else, once you do it a couple times you get the hang of it.
5. Again, it was surprisingly not a big deal. At all. Really.
Solo travel is fantastic. I highly recommend it to anyone at any (reasonable) age, marital status, and income level. I became a little more fearless from my travels and I hope to continue growing from these amazing cultural experiences.
What have you learned from traveling solo? Comment below with your answers!