Traveling alone = more selfies :)
1. Traveling on your own is awkward at first.
The honest truth is that being on your own all day, every day after spending the Fall with a constant companion, just feels odd. I'm used to having someone to talk with, or at least sit in comfortable silence with. Someone who is a built-in buddy, a shield from awkward social situations. Now, I was suddenly on my own. It's new, so it's uncomfortable. The good news? It gets easier! The first few days might feel off, but pretty soon you'll be forced to embrace the potential of an awkward social encounter and just go for it. Try to make new friends in your hostel and chat with your roommates. You may have a new system of people to spend the evenings chatting with and get to hear stories from people all over the world in all different stages of life.
2. Embrace the total freedom.
A definite perk to traveling solo is having total and complete freedom. Ice cream for dinner? Absolutely. Lazy day at the beach? Why not? Buying a last minute ticket to watch your favorite tennis player? Uh, definitely! Somehow the days feel longer now with all the options in the world for what I can do. I don't have to take someone else's interests into account and can completely focus on myself.
3. Getting over your own thoughts and doubts is a challenge.
Being alone all day means having a lot of time to think about anything and everything. I noticed that in my first few days traveling alone, I often felt self conscious. When I walked into a restaurant and asked for a table for one or sat by myself in a park, I wondered if everyone thought I was sad because I was alone. It took me a few days to realize how ridiculous this thought process was. I'm 23 and traveling through two new countries by myself - that's pretty cool...definitely not sad. Once I got over my own nervousness and awkwardness, I embraced the time to myself and actually enjoy it now.
4. Stay in a hostel.
Without a doubt, this is a must do if you're traveling alone. It's fine to explore a city on your own during the days, honestly it's pretty enjoyable, but it's less fun to sit on your own at night or go weeks without interacting with other travelers. An easy solution is to stay at a backpacking hostel. You'll find tons of other people with the same interests who might just be doing the same thing as you. Is there a bar in or connected to your hostel? Push yourself to venture there at night. You might find some super cool people to talk to. Does your hostel offer events or walking tours? Do them! This is a great way to try new experiences with other people who may just be looking for new friends as well.
5. Switch it up sometimes and try out a group tour.
During my time in Cairns, I decided to do both a Rainforest/Waterfalls tour and a Great Barrier Reef tour. If you get a good tour company, they will push the group to become friends and interact with each other. After my first day trip, I left the bus with a phone full of new Facebook friends and contacts to go out with that night. And guess what? Three of those people were on my tour the following day. Going on these tours helped me find friends I spent the next two days with.
The truth is, I wasn't sure I was going to like solo travel after first trying it out. It was awkward, I wasn't making new friends and I missed having someone to talk to. Three weeks later, I enjoy the experience and don't find it so weird anymore. Am I going to stop traveling with friends or family? Probably not. I still like having people to talk to constantly and share those experiences with; but if I wanted to visit a new country and no one else could go, I wouldn't hesitate going alone.
Solo Travel is a different kind of experience: It forces you to think a lot, figure things out about yourself and push yourself to try new things and meet new people. It creates bonds with people that you just can't get if you're traveling in a group. Solo Travel isn't for everyone, but it's definitely worth trying - it might just totally change the way you think.