A Nervous Girl’s Guide to… Doing Things Solo

They say that everyone should travel alone at some point in their life. I don’t know who ‘they’ are, but ‘they’ seems to get everywhere and produce great wisdom about a variety of subjects, so ‘they’ are probably worth trusting.

I’ve met people who would never dream of going out alone to, say, a restaurant or the cinema or on a trip abroad. It’s a curious thing. We never question why those things seem to be purely 2+ people activities. I mean, it’s not like they’re activities that would fail without at least two people, like a tug-of-war or carrying a large piece of furniture. I think people are afraid to do things alone is for a few reasons;

  • The worry that others will think they are ‘sad’ or ‘lonely’. Self-consciousness, primarily.
  • A lack of self-worth e.g. they don’t think they are worthy of treating themselves to something without the excuse of another person being there. For example, alone= ‘I’ll go to McDonalds’. 2+ people = ‘Let’s go to that really nice Italian place.’ It’s partly a lack of self-worth that stops people from saying, alone, ‘I’ll go to that really nice Italian place.’
  • The awkwardness of it, for example, what do I do with my hands? What should I look at? Do I seem bored? Do I seem lonely?

I have had these worries, and years ago, they would have stopped me from doing things alone. But as I’ve grown more confident, that’s not the case anymore. I am lucky enough that I usually have somebody else to do things with. But that’s not always to case, and in those situations, I would rather do something solo than not do it at all.

Besides, I’ve seen people out together who look thoroughly miserable and awkward to be in each other’s company. A few weeks ago, I saw a young couple in a bar who were sharing a bottle of wine, and I honestly could count on one hand how many words they said to each other the whole evening. They just sat, staring at their phones or into the distance, sombrely sipping their wine. I don’t know what was keeping them together, but it definitely wasn’t their banter.

I personally find going solo occasionally quite liberating. I’ve been to the theatre, a cocktail bar and a few restaurants on my own. I was nervous initially, but I ended up really enjoying it. Travelling alone is especially brave and offers a sense of true adventure. You don’t have to make compromises. You can just sit, and contemplate the moment, without having to talk. And when you’re travelling, you can do exactly what you want. Want to see the Sock Museum? Go ahead and see it. Want to eat dinner in the hotel room in just your underwear and with a beer from the mini-bar? Go and do just that. Wondering what’s down that dark alley? Go and take a look (but have the police on speed-dial).

Soon, I will be going on a small, week-long trip abroad on my own (right now, I won’t say where I’m going, for privacy reasons, but will undoubtedly do a photo-blog about it when I return). It’s the first time I’ve properly travelled solo. True, I have done an internship to South Africa on my own, but I never felt like I was alone as I was constantly with other people on my internship and at the hostel.

This will be different because I won’t be staying at a hostel where you can meet lots of people. I will be staying in a nice hotel, and going to nice restaurants, and nice music concerts. And I refuse to feel guilty or awkward about that.

I am nervous, though. But I’ve written myself out a few techniques to combat the awkwardness, sort of like a solo-traveller survival guide. You guys might find it useful too.

Take a look;

  • Have incredibly long phone conversions to a non-existent person. And if you don’t want to the hassle of thinking of things to say, pretend you’re Lithuanian and talk in a made-up language (doesn’t work if you’re holidaying in Lithuania).
  • Befriend random people on tours, and make them your companions, whether they like it or not.
  • When going to the theatre, occasionally shout out ‘That’s my Peter’. People will think you’re a relative of an actor, and therefore, not ‘truly’ alone.
  • Take a laptop and important looking notes for restaurants, and people might think you’re a business person. The only con would be having to wear suits the whole week, which could weigh your luggage down.
  • Another technique for restaurants is to adopt the critic guise. This simply involves eating your food, making the occasional ‘hmm’ noise or distasteful expression, and jotting down some notes.

What about you? Do you like to fly solo, or do you avoid it?


6 thoughts on “A Nervous Girl’s Guide to… Doing Things Solo

  1. I do a lot of things on my own and I’m fairly comfortable with myself. That being said, there are some things that I’d need another person to do. Travel is one of them. I have a good sense of direction but am really not comfortable travelling by myself. Having another person there to share the experience and make sure I don’t get lost relieves a lot of worry.
    And going to clubs/bars. As a young female, I worry about safety, especially in places like that, so having a friend there is also a big comfort.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, I definitely understand your concerns. Travelling alone isn’t for everyone (I’m not even sure if it’s for me yet, as I haven’t done it… aha). I do worry a bit about safety, but the place I’m going to is reasonably safe. Certainly no more dangerous than the current city I live in, which I’m happy to walk around on my own.


  2. Being in a long-term relationship it’s great to experience things together, but also important and healthy to enjoy your own space. Luckily we are pretty compatible in that respect. I always enjoyed spending time alone and have done some solo trips abroad when I was younger, including hitchhiking in Scandinavia.

    It’s great you have the confidence to get out there, I wish you bon voyage and look forward to your report when you get back.

    BTW – Liked your tips. Another possible strategy might be to take a ventriloquist puppet along. If you get bored you can pretend to gossip about the other travellers and amuse yourself by faking arguments over splitting the bill in restaurants..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I LOVE travelling alone, just as much as I do with others. I love eating/drinking/doing/not doing what I want, without wondering if other people want the same.

    I find it’s easier when I take a good book/magazine/sketchbook/piece of work to fill quiet nights in and give me something to do in restaurants. It also helps me to have a rough plan of what I want to do each day – otherwise around midday I go from “This is great, I have no plans and I can do what I like” to “This is awful, I’m wasting my holiday, I should have been more prepared”.

    And – though it doesn’t come naturally to me – I find I have a more interesting time if I’m open to speaking to strangers a bit (in a safe way, of course). Shop and restaurant staff, fellow travellers, people next to you on a bus or bench – just saying hello and asking about the area makes me feel more connected, and like it’s been worth travelling.

    Have fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, I’m glad you’re so enthusiastic about solo travel. You’ve made me feel a lot better about it now. Yes, I’m planning to bring a lot of books fro restaurant reading. And I’m always super-prepared, as I don’t usually go to places for very long, so I want to make sure I get everything done that I want.

      Liked by 1 person

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