To me, this is a strange question. It’s kind of like asking how to enjoy driving a luxury car. Or how to enjoy visiting a castle. Or how to enjoy swimming with dolphins. To me, the enjoyment is already built inside the activity. Enjoyment will happen whether you try or not. Call me crazy, but this is how I look at solo traveling.
I think the question kind of boils down to ‘how to enjoy traveling while alone all of the time’. That is a question that I have received multiple times from people all over the world. Sometimes people think that just because I’m alone, that I must be incredibly bored or even depressed. And I can tell you with complete honesty, these people couldn’t be further from the truth.
Traveling solo has a lot to do with learning about yourself. And today, I want to teach you how to think in order to create the best solo travel experiences, and enjoy it as much as possible.
How To Enjoy Yourself Traveling Solo?
- Identify Activities That Genuinely Excite You
- Plan Your Travels Around These Activities (but don’t plan too much)
- Learn To Enjoy Being Alone
- Lower Your Expectations (Most Important)
1) Identify Solo Traveling Activities That Genuinely Excite You
To give you a bit of an idea about myself, the activity that I enjoy the most is communicating with people, learning about the culture, and ultimately trying to fit in with the culture. To me, this is ultimate bliss. If I am able to watch people and start to predict what people will do next or what actions they will take next, then this means that I have gotten to the point at which I’m starting to wrap my mind around how the country and culture operates. I know. I’m a nerd.
To you, this may be the most boring thing in the world. This might be something that you would absolutely avoid while traveling. And that’s cool. To each their own.
However, I do recommend that you sit down and determine what, specifically, excites you when you are out traveling. Do you like meeting people? Do you like learning a language? Do you like riding on boats? Do you like swimming? Do you like hanging out at the beach? Do you like trying different foods? Do you like learning about different religions? Do you like architecture?
I can give you about 100 more ideas. I will leave you to Google to determine this. The key, however, is to determine a few things that excite you on a fundamental level.
2) Plan Your Travel Around These Activities (But Don’t Plan Too Much)
So as mentioned previously, I enjoy meeting people and learning about the culture. One activity that I like to do in every country, as boring as it sounds, is walk around in a city, town, or even village all alone. I simply exit my hotel and then walk for hours and hours and hours. To me, I’m in heaven!
When I walk, I usually meet countless people every time. When I meet these people, they often invite me for tea, or a meal, or bring me inside to meet their family, invite me back the next day, or invite me on an adventure with a group of people. I’ve had countless positive experiences with people who I have simply met by walking on the street.
Even though this is the activity that I enjoy the most, it doesn’t mean that I do this every day and always. I obviously include many different activities during my solo traveling adventures. Some of which are more exciting than others. I’m always interested in trying new things to enjoy in each country.
So what does this mean for you? Well, after you determine your interest, try to schedule more activities that include your interest. If you like boat riding, try to go on several different boat rides in the area. And eventually, when you visit a different area within that country, try to line up a few more boat rides. Maybe you will go to lakes, maybe you will go to rivers, maybe you will go to the ocean. I’ve no idea, but, if this is something that is incredibly interesting to you, then you should do it as much as possible! No one is there to stop you or tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. You are in control!
3) Learn To Enjoy Being Alone
If you don’t like being alone, my question to you is ‘why don’t you like to be alone’? Well, from what I have learned, the major reason that people do not like to be alone is that they are insecure about themselves. So if this is the case, then what can we do about that? Here are a few tips:
a) Identify Your Weaknesses / Failures
Chances are, if you are insecure about yourself you, then probably constantly focus on your weaknesses and failures. I want you to continue to identify your weaknesses & failures, but not so frequently. In addition, after acknowledging your weaknesses and failures, then ask yourself what you can do to improve upon them.
The next time you come across a scenario in which you failed at, ask yourself what you can do better to help prevent the failure next time. Now, your mind will start to focus less on the weaknesses (negative), and start to focus on the improvements (positive). Rinse and repeat for a while. You will start to become more confident in yourself.
b) Take a Moment to Celebrate Your Accomplishments
If you accomplish anything, celebrate! Maybe you went to the airport alone, found the plane, flew to a different country, and then made it all the way to your hotel for the very first time in your entire life! Celebrate that! Give yourself acknowledgment of the things that you are doing correctly.
Be In The Moment
When we are alone, we tend to let our minds focus on the past or the future too much. It is important to remind yourself to focus on the ‘here and now’. Look around you and find something that is worth focusing your attention on.
Often when I am eating at a restaurant alone, which is almost always, I focus my attention on different things. For example, I often watch the waiters and waitresses very carefully. I try to spot the differences in restaurant service between my country and theirs. Don’t focus your attention on ‘being alone’.
It doesn’t matter how you view yourself. Maybe you are shy, a jokester, an introvert, an extrovert, tall, short, the list goes on… None of these things matter! Just be yourself, and own it! In almost every country that I have been to, generally, people have judged me strictly by kindness. Nothing else. Just be kind, and nothing else matters. Learn why Solo Traveling is great for the soul!
Also, it is important to keep in mind that just because you are Solo Traveling, it does not mean that you will be alone the majority of the time. If you want to be alone as an Introvert Solo Traveler, then by all means, be alone. But if you are like me and an Extrovert Solo Traveler, then simply surround yourself with local people. There is no pressure to be someone that you don’t want to be. Just be you!
I have been traveling the world for many years, constantly, and it is very rare that I have found myself in a situation where I am utterly alone. I make friends so easily and can hang out with a local person almost every day, if I choose.
I think as you start to travel, you will learn the perfect balance for you. Personally, there are days that I just want to sit and relax with my feet up and watch the traffic drive by. I don’t feel like interacting with anyone. And that is completely okay and acceptable.
The key to enjoying solo travel is to simply do whatever it is that you want to do at that particular moment. Be in the moment. And if for some reason you want to meet people but it is particularly difficult and you haven’t had any luck, then simply use that time to rest and relax – assuming your trip is not too short.
4) Lower Your Solo Traveling Expectations
I know, this sounds weird. But, it’s the most important. Yes, there are obvious PROS and CONS to solo traveling, but this is almost always the key to being happy and enjoying your trip. Think about it:
- If in your mind, you 100% expected that the meal was going to taste amazing, and after you took a bite, it was only mediocre or normal. You would be quite disappointed.
- If you organize a boat ride over the phone, you expected the boat to be particularly amazing, but when you got there, the boat was nothing special… just normal. You would be quite disappointed.
- If before you visited the country and thought that everyone was extremely kind, friendly, welcoming, and safe, and when you got there everybody was just normal. Again, you would be particularly disappointed. When you return home, you would tell everybody That your trip was disappointing.
- If in your mind, you expected that the meal was going to taste terrible, and after you took a bite it was normal, you would be happy.
- If you organized a boat ride over the phone, and you expected the boat to be terrible, but when you got there it was actually a normal boat and wasn’t terrible at all. You would be happy.
- If you went to a country expecting that everybody was extremely dangerous and rude, and when you got there everybody was completely normal, and not rude or dangerous at all, you’d be happy.
By the time you finished your trip and returned home, you would have nothing but positive things to say. Everything was better than you expected. You tell everyone that you had a good trip and it was better than you expected.
The interesting part about this exercise is that the same thing happened in all six scenarios. But yet one trip turned out to be better than the other trip because of the expectation that you had before entering each situation. Mindset is critical!
If we enter a situation with very little or no expectation at all, then we have nothing to lose. We just perceive everything at face value.
But obviously, as you can see above, if you enter a situation with high expectations, and it doesn’t go exactly the way you planned, you will immediately become disappointed or frustrated. Mindset plays a big role in enjoying your solo travels.
Maximizing Your Fun Potential
Choosing which country to visit first, is important. It’s also important to note that the first couple of weeks might feel a little bit strange. That is okay. It’s definitely a normal feeling. Just follow the steps from above and you should be well on your way to enjoying your trip as much as possible.
The solo traveling experience is definitely a journey, not a destination (haha, kind of). Do not expect to become a professional overnight. It will take time to find your rhythm.