I took my first ever solo trip to Austria this year and fell in love with the freedom so much that I went on to take two more trips to Bilbao and Bern.
Despite the inevitable post-travel blues, my solo trips changed my mindset for the better. I believe that you can still maintain qualities of a solo travel adventure long after the trip has come to an end. Here are 7 ways to live your life with a solo traveller mindset.
Be Selfish with your Time
Solo travel gives you one of life’s rare scenarios when you can be 100 percent selfish with your time. Travelling alone means you have nobody to please but yourself, so you only have to do things that benefit and interest you. It’s a strange concept at first but it can feel incredibly liberating, especially if you usually have a lot of responsibilities and people relying on you. At least once a month, try blocking out a free day in your diary all to yourself. If you have children, pets or responsibilities, make arrangements to have someone else take care of them. When the day comes, wake up and do exactly what you want to do.
Book a Table for One
Dining alone is the ultimate test for solo travellers and was definitely the element of my first trip that I was the most apprehensive about. Like with many things in life, the more you do it the easier it becomes. I always take a book and a notepad if I am dining alone, which makes me feel productive. Treat yourself to a table for one and embrace some quality time with yourself.
Get Chatting with a Stranger
During my solo travels, I was amazed at how many more people would come and chat with me, compared to when I was travelling in a group. As a solo traveller you are far more approachable, and being alone also pushes you to become more sociable and friendly. Next time you’re alone, get chatting with the elderly lady at the bus stop or with the waiter who serves you. You never know, you might end up making their day as well as your own.
Give Your Time to Others
Solo travellers often volunteer some of their travel time to a charity in their destination. It’s a great way to meet new people and can be incredibly rewarding for yourself as well as others. If you have fond travel memories of volunteer work, consider looking for volunteer opportunities in your local area and give back to your local community.
Allow Yourself to Get a Little Lost
With our smart phones and the likes of Google Maps, it’s rare that we ever really get lost in our daily lives. Navigating your way around a new place is part and parcel of solo travel, which sometimes needs to be done without Google Maps, Wi-Fi or 3G. Try going for a walk in a city or the country and just let yourself roam. Follow your nose and see what you find. Not knowing exactly where you are in the world can feel liberating. It’s OK to get a little lost from time to time.
Observe the World Around You
Another way to adopt a solo traveller mindset is to observe more of the world around you. When travelling alone, you have the time to simply sit, watch and observe things going on around you. Sit yourself down on a park bench for a while and watch life happen around you. Sometimes the mundane and the ‘everyday’ can be incredibly beautiful.
Allow Time for Self-Care
During a solo adventure, you may be inclined to spend a bit more money on yourself than normal. Whether it’s to sample a local Thai massage or join a yoga class, solo travel naturally leads you to invest in yourself. But you don’t need to be in the middle of an epic solo travel adventure to take care of yourself. Figure out what makes you feel the most relaxed and create a self-care ritual that you do on a regular basis. It might involve visiting the spa, going for a long run or simply taking a long bath with a facemask.
Making a few changes to your daily life can give you a better understanding of what it’s like to travel solo. So pick a few things from this list and challenge yourself to do them. They may feel strange at first but as the saying goes, ‘life begins at the end of your comfort zone’.
Written by Jess Gibson of The Travelista, an award-winning luxury travel blog covering everything from boutique hotels and city guides to stylish living. Visit Jess’ blog at thetravelista.net and follow her travels on Instagram @thetravelista