I decided to go off on my own on a bit of a whim. Solo travel was something I’d never have thought I could do and this very fact provided the desire to conquer this fear. Always someone who likes to front up to my fears and try to eradicate them, I wanted to give this a crack. I wanted to do it for a while, thinking it over back and forth about the merits and pitfalls of solo travel. But got up one morning and found with a bit of research it was going to be a cheap, so I just booked it. And I didn’t second-guess it right until I had to get in the cab to go to the airport.
Where and how I booked
I considered lots of places; living in Malaysia opens up a whole world of opportunity. But my recent trip to Bali had made me want to explore Indonesia more. After reading that the Obama’s had gone to Java in June to see the temples I looked them up and promptly added them to my wish list. I’d also been hankering after going to Gili, seeing countless dreamy pictures of beaches and sunsets meant this one went straight to the top. I booked everything in advance, having a rough itinerary is good on your first trip as a solo female traveller. It takes the worry out of the situation and leaves you to just enjoy. I purposely made no plans of what I would do with my days until I arrived at each spot but I knew where I would be sleeping and how I would get there. This approach is something I would highly recommend for your first trip alone.
Being alone doesn’t make you lonely
The worry is that you’ll be lonely, but I actually loved the time alone. I took plenty of books but found I didn’t really need them as exploring and adventure either left me too tired or too full of thoughts and ideas. I did find it a little odd being alone at times, but busied myself with reading or going off for a walk. I found that solo travel was making me talk to people, not hurrying off and making excuses, but asking questions. A refreshing change for a brit who is socially awkward. This has spread into my general attitude, I am more open to chatting to people I don’t know.
The good and the bad
The worst bit was getting Indo belly just as I was to leave Java for Lombok. I hadn’t really planned for this and didn’t have the right supplies. I made it through but it was a bit tough being away from home and alone when you’re feeling that rough. My tips – take the right medical supplies, you can’t rely on finding it there. Eat bananas, white carb’s and coke if you get it and rest, as it too will pass! The best bit of solo travel, the freedom. To go away with a few things booked but a whole 10 days of no plans in a new place is incredibly freeing. To live by your own agenda and decide the rules is something I recommend everyone do, at least once in their lives. I came back from my trip feeling like I knew myself better. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone and doing things I never thought I would, made me realise just how brave I am.
Things I learnt about solo travel…
- Take a small medical kit – don’t learn the hard way like me
- Be prepared to get ill – you probably will. The hygiene in some places is not what your body is used to.
- Use your instinct when it comes to food. If the place doesn’t look that hygienic make sure you get something that is cooked. Cold Gado Gado in a warung was my downfall!
- Don’t be afraid to just take some time out. You don’t have to do everything and see everything, one of my favourite days was the day I rested and read my book.
- Take some resealable sandwich bags in various sizes; these are great for waterproofing your valuables in your backpack, putting in dirty shoes/items and storing food if needed.
- Talk to people, they love it and you get to know more about the area.
- Be open to adventure. I was the kind of girl who said no to things through fear. But I said yes to a day trip organised by my host and it was the best thing I’ve ever done.
- Pack a device charger (and adaptor if needed) in your carry on. Delays are dull on your own if you can’t read on your device. More importantly you may need your phone for calls!
- Book your flights and hotels upfront. Sites like booking.com allow you to cancel or move reservations (I actually did this) so you can have peace of mind with a little flexibility.