Being A Solo Female Traveller At Eighteen

Sunday, 5 June 2016

In January I hopped on a plane to the other side of the world for four months. All on my own.

When I was away I did meet a lot of people who were older than me that said "oh I couldn't do what you're doing when I was eighteen" and a lot of people saying "you're so brave" but for me I was always going to go travelling before I went to University so I couldn't always understand what they were talking about. And I also met plenty of people my own age - some in pairs, some solo - that had the same mindset so we clicked instantly, which is a pretty cool feeling.

So this post is my experience of being solo, a girl and only eighteen on the other side of the globe.

It is hard. 
You only have yourself to rely on most of the time to make sure everything is booked and you're at the right place at the right time and getting on the right transport to your next destination. It can be quite stressful at times working out where you're going to be staying in the next place - you've never been there before, how are you supposed to know which area of town is best? Ah panic!
 (use every form of the internet: social media, hostelworld reviews, google etc if it comes to this)

People at home don't see the emergency tuk tuk, tube, taxi rides to the airport or the fact you had to run with a 20kg backpack to catch the last bus but that's the thing when I was travelling: I hardly ever wanted to move to the next place!

But one thing I would emphasise is that I never felt I struggled or was left out or judged at all for being a young traveller. 

You learn a lot about yourself.
(cliche I know!)
Whilst away, I discovered that I can get quite anxious and have what I call 'bad mental days' where I'd have a bit of a flop if I'd been with some really great people for a few days and then had to move on to the next place. Every time it happened I knew there was nothing to worry about really but the uncertainty of what I was going actually scared me a bit. That's why I am so grateful to some of the people I met along the way because I could message or ring them and they'd sort me out straight away!

Spontaneity is a good thing. I'm (annoyingly) one of those people that looks up things they want to do and normally has a plan whilst I'm in a place but by the end of travelling I tried to let go of that side of myself. The people you meet are going to be amazing and not having anything planned until the day means you can get involved with their activities or plan something together. Putting too much thought into some things can be a bit soul destroying.

 I've also learnt that the ability to not care what people think of you is an amazing attribute, just do what you want because you'll probably never see half those people that would judge you again!

The freedom is unreal.
Being alone means not having to answer to somebody else all the time and check that what you're doing is okay and not have to do what they want; just do what you want, when you want. If you want to stay in a place for an extra night, great! No one else in inconvenienced. 

 And back to the not being too over planned point: you have the freedom to go wherever you please, like when I was in Bali (because it's a fairly small island) you can go all over the place at the drop of a hat, which is what I did for a random trip to Uluwatu from Ubud and back again! 

I met quite a few people as well who were travelling in a pair or three and there always seemed to be some kind of argument or one didn't particularly like the other; because you don't really know a person until you live/travel with them. You are with the same person pretty much 24/7 whereas being alone means you can go off and find some new people to talk to without hurting somebody's feelings. 

The plus side to travelling solo: no ruined friendships.

But for now