It was something I was terrified of at first, but knew I needed to do. I kept putting it off for weeks until I finally came to the conclusion that if I don’t do it now, I never will. I wasn’t sure why I had such a strong urge to go, but I soon found out why.
Last night I just returned from my first time solo travel trip, one of the most memorable trips I’ve taken to date.
When most people hear a young woman say she’s going to travel alone, the questions are why?” “Don’t you want to wait for your boyfriend to go with you?” “Have you seen the movie Taken?” “Aren’t you scared?” “HAVE YOU SEEN THE MOVIE TAKEN?” I’ll admit I never imagined myself traveling alone, until I saw how many other women are doing it too, all around the world.
I made up my mind earlier this summer that I wanted to travel more around Croatia. I decided I would visit, Split, Zadar, and Zagreb, over the course of five days. I decided I was doing this for me, and I was going alone.
Through my solitude and experience as a lone-traveler, here’s what my this first time solo travel trip taught me:
- Everything always works out. Be patient.
My trip was off to a rough start, most likely from me manifesting nervous energy. First I lost my ferry ticket, got yelled at, found it, and then thought I lost my passport. I had too much caffeine and was wired for four hours from Dubrovnik to Split. Then, when I got to Split I had two weird experiences with creepy taxi drivers. I was now thinking ahead of every worst-case scenario.
It turns out that after these little episodes, everything ended up falling into place and going rather smoothly. I realized on this trip that anything (everything) that I’ve ever freaked myself out about ends up working out with time. School. Relationships. Work. I realized that we all freak out when we aren’t patient enough for things to fall into place. I’m usually the most inpatient person in the world, but that started to change after this trip.
- Complaining makes everything worse.
Yep, I’m guilty of complaining, just like everyone else. Of course it’s healthy to blow off steam and let yourself be upset from time to time, but it’s really easy to stay in this habit. When I was traveling alone all day, I really didn’t have anyone to complain to. “My back hurts. It’s hot. Wow, that person was rude.” Without verbalizing these small day-to-day thoughts, I honestly started to pay less attention to them.
It’s really hard to be positive when you give negative thoughts a lot of energy, which tends to make a small situation into a big deal. I realized that complaining is a habit I need to knock in order to be more mindful and positive.
- Trust yourself
Trust your instincts, sense of direction, and intuition. It’s really important to have faith in oneself, as cliché as it sounds. You need to trust that you’ve obtained the skills to conquer whatever challenges come your way.
- Always walk with a strut
I honestly have never really felt unsafe in Croatia, but perhaps that’s from perfecting my Chicago strut. To avoid potentially weird people or anyone trying to sell me things, I always walk with a purpose, like I don’t have time to stop for anyone’s bullshit. I’ve avoided a ton of situations and made my way through crowds twice as fast by doing this. Be confident and let it show.
- Don’t worry so much what people think.
I think one of the main reasons people don’t travel alone is that they’re afraid of what people will think of them, and also just in general. What a waste of time. I’ve known my whole life I’m 100 percent okay with being on my own, and don’t care if I’m eating, shopping, or doing anything alone. I also don’t care if anyone judges me for devouring some Asian noodle dish in the park, because I’m enjoying myself. You need to learn to do what’s best for you, and ignore irrelevant people.
- Spend money on experiences, not things.
And by experiences, I also mean food. I’m slowly becoming a minimalist and barely buy any material possessions anymore. In life and travel, I learned to not get caught up in the fact that you need things to remember moments and memories. I’d rather have a really bomb meal and see something new instead of buying a new dress from Zara that I don’t need.
- Be your own best friend
This was perhaps the most important takeaway from my trip. In order for all of us to share our light with the world, we all need to build a healthy relationship with ourselves. We can have supportive family, friends, and boyfriends, but it’s important to always come back to oneself for support. In an era surrounded by constant digital stimulants, carve out time for solitude. You will find that with a little silence you may hear the answers much louder.
- …but make friends along the way
Traveling solo is one of the best ways to make new friends, no matter where you are in the world. In each place I visited I connected with friends I already knew or met new locals. It’s one of the best ways to learn about a city, and maybe even learn about yourself. Though the world can be a scary place, I can assure you that there are more good people than bad in the world.
- The smallest things can make you feel at home.
I really feel like my “home” is a combination of Minnesota, Chicago, and Dubrovnik. However, I realized that there are specific things that make me feel at home, such as finding a gluten-free restaurant, listening to live music in the park, or meeting like-minded friends. Though I’ve loved being a mermaid in a village this summer, I can’t escape the effect Chicago had on me. I still crave the buzz of city life, and Zagreb really gave me that feeling again (to be continued).
- Try something new on your own.
I recognize that traveling in general is a privilege, and so is traveling solo. However, find something new you’d like to try, and do it on your own. Maybe you want to backpack in Canada and no one else is interested. Maybe no one wants to visit that new bar that opened up in your neighborhood. Maybe you want to learn to paint. I’d say do it. Do it for yourself, and by yourself. Don’t wait for anyone to give you permission.
Thanks for reading this week! Stay tuned for my post about Zadar and Split later this week, and Zagreb the following! Like what you read? Share or comment below to support a girl blazing her own trail in this crazy world.
38 thoughts on “My First Time Solo Travel Trip (And What I Realized)”
YOU ARE AMAZING.
Sounds like an amazing trip. Great lessons for life.
All this points are so so true. Totally agree with everything you said right here!
Thank you Anne! I really appreciate it 🙂
I remember my solo trip to Barcelona. Was just after we broke up with BF and had to test my self if I could do it. It was like therapy and empowerment, to realise I dont need to wait for anybody to have good time and I am able to find my way around, meet new people. You never forget the first solo trip:)
Nina, that’s so empowering! I had a similar experience of feeling super empowered, since I left my boyfriend at home and was like BYE doing this for me! haha 🙂 You’re so right. You never forget your first solo trip!
Great list! I’m a big fan of #4 (walking with a strut), especially in places where I otherwise feel a little less comfortable. The unexpected result is that people ask me for directions a lot 🙂 🙂 In Kazakhstan this actually got frustrating– Apparently I looked like I knew everything?
Anyway, Croatia has been on my bucket list since forever so I’m off to read all your Croatia posts.
P.S. I love all your snazzy sunglasses.
Haha that happens to me all the time too! People will always ask me for directions and I’m like, uhh not sure I don’t live here either. Must be a compliment!
I’m still in the process of making the rest of my guides and posts for some areas, so send me a message if you need some more recommendations.
Thank you!! I just got these sunglasses 🙂
Love this! I really prefer solo travel as its such a different experience. I stopped caring what others think and just enjoy myself. I do get a lot of stares when using my selfie stick but i learned not to give AF haha. Solo travel is so enriching!
Thank you so much 🙂 You’re completely right. When you let go and do it for yourself, solo travel is so enriching 🙂
Very true points, I can relate completely. I actually prefer solo travel for the most part! Anyway, regardless of what people say to use travel girls, look where it lead you (and myself), both living in incredible Croatia!
Georgia | http://www.bohemianbythesea.com
Exactly, Georgia! I’m still hoping our paths will cross and we can meet up in Dubrovnik or Split :)!
I remember my first solo trip (though I was quite a bit younger) and remember feeling totally lost and overwhelmed at one point, but ultimately it turned out to be an amazing experience. I can completely relate to a lot of this!
I had some of those feelings as well throughout my trip, but feel like I grew a lot by the end of it! Thank you for sharing your experience!
Your blog post made think of my own first solo trips:. First, I went to London and all worked well. At my second solo trip, which was to Oslo, however, I was ripped off. But it was a good experience to learn that I can get along well also in a difficult situation. I learned to trust myself more and more by travelling alone.
I learned that as well! Traveling solo really tests your intuition, and you have to learn to listen to it! Thanks for sharing!
You are so right bout trusting your instincts. I travelled solo across Europe and I always trusted my intuitions.
Thanks so much! I’m glad you can relate 🙂
Yes..yes..yes…totally feel it! Every points are so resonating to me. 😀 I miss travelling solo. 🙂
Thank you so much Tracy! It makes me happy to hear that the points resonated with you!
This is all so true! I had never thought about complaining less but it’s really true – I definitely rant more with someone else haha. Great post!
I know I have that habit as well! Thank you for reading!
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Superb article 🙂 thanks for sharing, can I reblog this one on my travel blog? kindly advice
Sure! As long as you click the reblog WordPress button, instead of copying and pasting into a blog post, otherwise that will hurt both our SEO! Thanks 🙂
Reblogged this on Journal Edge and commented:
Superb Article, All credit goes to: : mindfulmermaid.com
Thanks for the authority 🙂
I totally relate to all these points! I’m trying to buy less stuff and just spend money on experiences 🙂 and I agree about the complaining when no ones there to complain to you don’t notice the bad stuff as much.
I totally agree with “Spend money on experiences, not things.”.
Experiences are in your mind forever!
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Great advice Alex im traveling myself alone for the first time in years ,very nervous about the idea.
Where are you heading off to? You’ll be fine! I try to do most of my trip planning in advance and mark everywhere I want to go on google maps so that I know exactly where I’m going. It’s a really great experience once you get used to it!
Im going to zadar,I booked for 10 nights in hotel Donat but I would like to move around a bit,was looking at Silba as a possible site to spend a few nights,im flying in from Dublin on the 8th june .
Oh you’ll have so much fun and be totally fine! Zadar is amazing and also very safe. You can travel to many nearby places by bus or boat!
Can’t wait ,looking forward to it hopefully all goes well