The tiny, cramped hotel room seemed to close around me as the realisation set in: I was on my own. Lost. I spoke English. Aussie slang, to be precise. No one spoke English deep within the suburbs of Prague. If they did, I couldn’t find them.
The travel agent had accidentally booked me in a hotel about an hour from the Prague city central.
Talk about a wakeup call! No boyfriend or husband to save me. No friends to cheer me up with a few local Prague brews. No parents to organise things for me. Hell, I couldn’t ask for a phone, let alone phone home like ET.
The idealism of solo travel to a far off country came to a sudden bump in the road. BUT it was time to hitch up the big girl pants and turn those lemons into margaritas!
This trip to Europe in 2005 would be one of the most significant events of my life. I learnt more about myself during those two weeks than I ever did on a group or family holiday.
Women have always travelled on their own, but now it’s more accepted by the masses. More and more women are relishing the chance to explore a new environment without backseat travellers cramping their style.
Solo travel is all about getting out of your comfort zone to meet the magic. Nothing great comes from sitting on your banana lounge by the hotel pool. You may feel happy and content there, but the beauty of the foreign culture you paid thousands for will not follow you into the hotel lobby. Trust me.
Alice Archer is a seasoned solo traveller, and has spent time adventuring around Australia, Antarctica, North America and Africa. Alice says, “Travelling on your own opens your mind to a different perspective and new cultures.” The downside? “Solo travel can compound loneliness and anxiety if you are not careful.”
Attempting to problem-solve may seem to be a huge problem and not a big deal at the same time. Decisions are made quickly. Fate takes over. Flip a coin. When you’re in transit, decisions need to be made now. No one to discuss options with, no procrastination allowed. Make a decision and go forward; onwards and upwards.
You can do as you please without annoying anyone else. I’ve been on a number of group holidays. I always go with the flow, and always end up sacrificing my travel plans for someone else’s. I still have a good time, but it is their holiday not mine. There is always regret about something I missed for another person’s travel bucket list.
Kirsty Coyle is another who has experienced many a solo adventure, both interstate and throughout Europe. Her top tip for lone travellers is to make sure you choose a travel location you’re truly interested in or motivated to explore, otherwise it can impact on your trip and how much of the experience you treasure.
Solo travel means you to have to step up. You make the decisions. You make the choices. You make the happy mistakes or take the wrong turns.
If you think solo travel is not for you, then you need to book that ticket. You need to let go of what other people think. You need to stop over-thinking your holiday. Save the money. Book the ticket. Pack your bag. Get on the plane. Eat the shitty airplane food.
Guess what? You might have a good time.
Open your mind, create your own travel memory. And do it solo.
Have you travelled solo – what are your top tips? Or if you’d like to, what’s holding you back?