Words by Anlin Melina, photographs by ladyironchef
I recently travelled to New York City and it was my second time travelling by myself. I’m more of an outgoing person, so I wasn’t that apprehensive about it. But I know that for most people, travelling alone can be a really anxious thing, especially if one had to travel by herself, for example, if she was on a business trip and have some free time alone to wander about the city.
However, the good news is that travelling solo is not a bad thing at all; there are several advantages for it and further below are tips for travelling alone.
If you are planning to go on an adventure soon, you should also read this post on important things to know for solo travellers.
Advantages of travelling alone:
1. Me time
Spending a few days by yourself (and for yourself) in a foreign city where no one knows you is probably one of the best ways to focus on yourself and enjoy what life has in store for you. We got too caught up in our busy daily routines sometimes that we neglect on treating ourselves well. Travelling solo is a good way to have some “me time” to treat yourself with the new environment, atmosphere, food, and vibe.
When you are travelling alone, you can afford to be very flexible with your own schedule. You can go to anywhere at anytime you want, or make any last minute changes to your itinerary if there is a need to without being concerned if your friends would mind. Happen to pass by that cute little café down the corner of the street on the way to the museum? Just stop by, walk in, and try it.
3. Courage and independence
One of the greatest takeaways from travelling solo is probably learning on how to get out of our little comfort zones to just be out there in new places. Finding your way around the city by yourself, trying hard to speak a new language, meeting with new people along the way, and the list goes on. I guess it’s also fair to say that you will find courage from all these and take these little steps to learn to be more independent – at least in a foreign land.
Tips for travelling alone:
1. Be “thick skinned”
Definitely the most important tip – I find that we have to “thicken” our skins when we are travelling by ourselves. If you want your photo to be taken in front of that historical landmark, you have to ask other people to help you (be careful though, to make sure that they do not run away with your camera). When you’re eating alone at the bar, do not think that other people are looking at you; just think and look as if you’re a food critic so that’s why you’re eating there by yourself. When you make mistakes while trying to speak the foreign language, do not be afraid! At the end of the day, you’ll just laugh it off and have fun with it.
2. Be wise
By being wise here, I mean that you can choose to go to places that are more suitable for solo travellers. Join a group walking tour of the city to get a lively introduction of your new surroundings and meet with other solo travelers. Or view exhibitions at the museum since you have no one to distract you now while immersing yourself in those art pieces. Choose to dine at restaurants with bar seating where they are tailored for solo diners.
And always be friendly to the locals. People are generally nice at the core, so if you’re nice to them, they’ll be happy to talk to you too and help you if you need directions or recommendations. Remember to smile as and when you can. And you can never go wrong.
While travelling in general gives you new experiences and touches the soul, travelling solo additionally allows you to meet more new people along the way, which has got to be one of the ultimate joys of the journey. And it’s up to you to make the connections on route. You are traveling solo, but definitely not alone.
About the writer
Anlin Melina is a Business Administration and Economics student at the University of California, Berkeley, who likes travelling and writing during her free time. Melina has recently completed writing her first book, titled “Once Upon A Blue Sky”, which is a travel guide book on cities in the United States.