Aren’t you afraid? I can’t count the number of times I was asked this during the six weeks I spent travelling by myself.
The first 45 days was with a small group of 7 travellers and a terrific young guide.
The 2nd part was my DIY 6 week trip around parts of the Balkans by train. I had a timetable, knowledge of the trains and hotel bookings. It was interesting, I felt safe, met lots of great people and it all went very well.
Going solo seems to create a lot of interest. One very interesting website is wanderinghart.net/travelling-solo
Wanderinghart, who is on an 8 month trip, raises many interesting points which resonated with me. This is certainly worth a read.
Like Wanderinghart for me it was always about the journey.
I have attempted to put my spin on the questions Wanderinghart raises.
You are so brave – aren’t you afraid?
I would have been disappointed in myself if I had not done my Eastern Europe trip. I was not afraid but I was prepared, I travelled during the day or in sleepers at night. When I went out at night it was in well lit, busy areas.
What was your biggest doubt before leaving?
My biggest concern was whether I could travel for 14 weeks even though 8 weeks were to be with groups. I stayed in each place for at least 2 nights and factored in some longer periods in lovely places such as by the sea in Dubrovnik.
Eating alone does not worry me though this is of concern to some. I have had some great spontaneous experiences dining alone, a few where I have felt like the proverbial shag on a rock. This happened in Ljubljana but the following night I had a great time in a street cafe in a long conversation with an Italian woman, at a statistics conference, on the joys of travelling alone.
There is a great discussion on eating alone on thefoodsage.com.au
Has it been scary or weird travelling by yourself?
For me – no but I did get a bit rattled on the train in Bucharest until I put all the sellers into perspective.
I know many wonder about a woman in her sixties travelling alone. I have had lots of questions from women. Some because they would like to travel alone but are unsure about starting. Others because they have always gone everywhere in a couple and really have no idea how one could operate in any other way.
What do you like about travelling solo?
I have been on a trip with a less than compatible travelling companion and spent much of the time making compromises to accommodate the other person. This is one worry removed. I can go where I want and change my mind on the way if I wish.
A solo traveller can often interact with other people in a way that is often not so available to those travelling in pairs or group. I am sure I was only able to visit the kindergarden in Mostar because I was eating breakfast alone and shared the table with Monica.
What has been the worst part of being a solo traveller?
There are some things you can not do alone, some tours require groups or charge much more for a single traveller, accommodation is more expensive.
At times it would be nice to share experiences with another but I use text messages, the blog and Facebook and greatly appreciate any responses.
It can get tedious always eating alone and there is no one to mind the luggage while you go to the toilet.
What is the most important thing you have got from the journey?
I like travelling by myself. In fact I like it more than travelling in some groups. One night I spent 3 hours reading on an uncomfortable seat in a train corridor in China because my tour companions in my compartment decided to put down the beds in daylight at 7.30 and I was allocated a bottom bunk to save me the trouble of getting on to middle one. There was not enough room to sit up.
I like the opportunities it offers and the people you are likely to meet.
I like the flexibility of being able to change what you are doing or where you are going.
What was the greatest challenge?
Doing nothing. I frequently feel that as I am in Vienna/Mostar so I must be out visiting a sight or a museum. Is sitting over a long lunch a missed opportunity?
Did you get lonely?
No, I am used to my own company and I had lots of great interactions with other people.
Would I do it again?