I recently got the question on whether or not I felt comfortable traveling alone in Argentina. The short answer is yes. But, I wanted to talk a little about the steps I took that got me to this point. AKA being comfortable moving to a different country where I did not speak the language and doing it on my own.
First Time Abroad: The first time I traveled abroad (with the exception of a mission trip to Mexico to build houses at the age of 13) was my senior year in high school. I did a two week exchange program to Romania through my high school. I went with several other students as well as a teacher. It was the perfect first step for traveling because I was with friends and everything was planned for us. I was also staying with a host family and the student I was paired with spoke both English and Romanian so communication wasn’t an issue. It was this trip that started my unending love of traveling and I’ve gone on an international trip every year since!
First Time Abroad Where I Had To Make Plans: When I was a sophomore in college, I studied abroad in Venice, Italy for 5 months. I went through my university and I was living in a house with 14 other students, including one of my best friends. This was another great stepping stone because I had a constant travel companion and learned what it was like to spend an extended period of time in another country. This was also a HUGE learning opportunity because I learned how to balance finding a good AND cheap hostel, how to eat on a budget, and how to find the “must see” spots as well as the cool places off the beaten path (more on these topics coming soon).
First Time Traveling Alone: When I graduated from college I went on a 6 week backpacking trip. While most of the trip was spent with friends and family, I did have a few nights on my own. The first 2 nights were when I decided to split off from my friends in the Lakes District of Northern England. They stayed in the Lakes District while I traveled on to Cambridge for a night and London for a night. The first night in Cambridge I didn’t meet anyone in the hostel but I went to the Eagle and Child pub that night for a drink. (Going to this pub happened to be my main motivation for visiting Cambridge because it was where C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien would go as students. Crazy I know.) While at the pub, I met the nicest lady from Ireland who happened to live in Cambridge now. We spent the evening talking about traveling and life in Cambridge. The next night in London, I decided to go see Jersey Boys on the West End. Some may find it a little awkward to go alone to this kind of thing but I figured I might as well take advantage of my time! The next couple of days I spent alone came at the end of my trip in Switzerland. My friends were going back to Ireland and I continued on to Zermatt for a few days. I am so glad I made this decision because I had the opportunity to do some of the BEST hiking I’ve ever done! I also ended up meeting amazing people in the hostel that were also traveling alone. We ended up going out to dinner, hanging out at the hostel, and watching the 2014 World Cup while enjoying a few beers. This gave me a small glimpse into how easy it was to meet people in hostels as a solo traveller.
First Time Taking a Trip By Myself: In December 2016, I went to Thailand and Cambodia by myself for 2 weeks. I was initially going to take the trip with a friend but they couldn’t go so I decided to go alone. As it turns out, I really like traveling alone. While on the trip, I met amazing people in every city. Sometimes this did involve looking slightly awkward at first, aka sitting in the common area by myself, but eventually I always met people to hang out with. In Koh Tao, I met a girl who was also traveling alone and we got along so well that we rented snorkeling gear and a moped. Then we spent the entire day exploring the various beaches around the island. As it turns out, this is one of my favorite travel experiences and I never would have had it if I wasn’t willing to travel alone. One of my theories is you only have great stories and meet cool people if you are willing to leave your comfort zone, be bold, and be sociable.
I hope this helps some of you who are worried about traveling alone. I know for some this may seem really easy and for others it’s really scary. I hope my insights provide some comfort and guidance. For me, I’ve never regretted traveling alone because it has been a wonderful opportunity for growth and self discovery!