If you follow me on Instagram (@priya_jotangia) you may have seen that I’ve been on a few solo trips. Quite a few of you have messaged me on how I do it and don’t think you can do it on your own. Well I’m hoping by the time you’ve finished reading this post, you may be ready to do it! Now don’t get me wrong, of course I love travelling with friends/family/partner. But if you’ve solo travelled before, you’ll understand how amazing it is.
My first experience of travelling solo was straight after graduation in 2011. I had always wanted to go to China therefore, I did my research and got myself onto a travel programme. I packed my bags, got on a flight and landed in Beijing to meet the group. My experience in China was with a huge group of people I had never met before. We all enrolled onto a study programme at Beijing Normal University and quickly became friends. Over the next few weeks we learned Mandarin and got to travel around China.
I was travelling with a group of people who were all in the same boat as me…fresh out of uni and wanting to explore this amazing country. Shortly after we all made plans to travel further and ventured down to Shanghai, exploring the country and learning about one another. I was out of my comfort zone, in a unknown environment learning so much. I loved it!
On my way back from China, I decided to stop off in Dubai on my own to relax as China was incredibly hectic. This time I was totally solo – no one but me. No group. I planned exactly where I wanted to go, at what time and all the costs of getting there. I felt completely in control and completely safe and loved getting some time to my own, exploring. I was hooked.
In 2017 I did my next solo trip. This time volunteering through a company that kept continually popping up on my Facebook – Bamboo. I looked into them further and found out that they had tours and volunteering programmes across the world. Do I do a tour or do I volunteer? I’d volunteered in various different projects throughout the years so it made sense to continue and give back. So I clicked on Thailand & Cambodia and booked the 2 week programme!
Travelling alone 6 years after China felt completely different. I suppose it’s because this time around I was a bit more wiser and aware of what goes on whereas, straight after uni I was fearless, careless and slightly ignorant to what went on in the world. However, it didn’t stop me from travelling. NOTHING WILL.
I arrived in Bangkok, met my travel rep Jay and got in a taxi to meet the volunteer group. I was out in Thailand & Cambodia for 2 weeks, again with people I didn’t know and in surroundings so foreign to me. I was staying in the home of people I didn’t know but will forever be grateful to how much I was looked after. It was incredible. Knowing that I can do this all on my own, learn various important lessons about myself on the other side of the world was the best feeling ever. For my first week I helped look after elephants. Walking, bathing, feeding and swimming with them. My second week I was teaching English in Cambodia and got to experience Angkor Wat!
2018 I got the solo travel jitters again. There’s been one country that I have been obsessed to visit. If you ever saw my Pinterest board (@PriyaJotangia) my travel board is full of pictures of Italy. I thoroughly did my research on solo travelling in Italy and it was nothing but positive responses. I wanted to go completely on my own. No tour or volunteer group, just me. I desperately needed to get away from everything and everyone but also wanted to keep my mind occupied with exploring and adventure. Rome gave me the perfect option to explore so much. So off I went. I got my ass to East Midlands Airport and hopped onto that cheap Ryan Air flight to Rome.
Was I scared? NO! Was I slightly nervous? OF COURSE. But it spurred me on more. I had done all my research on how to get to the hotel from the airport, the time it will take, the costs etc. I had planned every bit of my trip so that I knew where I wanted to go and what to see. I trusted my gut, believed I could do it and that was it. Nothing stopped me.
I spent 4 days in Rome and then ended up jumping on a train to go explore Florence for the day. Knowing that I didn’t have to wait on anyone, ask ‘do you want to do this’, ‘do you fancy going here’, ‘what do you want to eat’ was just what I needed at that time in my life.
Travelling solo is incredibly liberating. You learn how to cope on your own, you learn to chill and enjoy your own company which is important, you learn what pace to go at and what suits you, you become more aware of yourself and your surroundings. The teaching you get from solo travel is incredibly valuable to growing as a person.
If you’re interested in solo travel but not sure, or nervous about doing it. Book a tour, join a group and volunteer. I guarantee you, you won’t regret it. Don’t let nerves, a lack of confident or whatever goes on in the world stop you from travelling solo. If I can do it, so can you.
Definitely check out Bamboo who do the most amazing tours/volunteer programmes around the world.
I’d love to hear some of your solo travel stories, or if you booked onto a tour/volunteer programme who did you go through? Leave your comments below.