Do you remember the movie The Girl Next Door? Yes, the one about the porn star turned prom date. At the beginning of the film, the hotshot porn director asks the main character a question that has continued to haunt me, “Is the juice worth the squeeze?” If you’ve seen it you know at the end of the movie that tenacious and awkward young gent looks the creepy director square in the eye and says,
“The juice was worth the squeeze.”
That’s how I view solo traveling. Yes, it can nerve-wracking at times, and of course, I have moments when I’m scrambling for an escape route, but the juice is always worth the squeeze. The effort you put in, the nervousness and over planning is undoubtedly worth every second you spend on your journey. The experiences I’ve had figuring things out on my own have made me smarter, more resilient and left me convinced that people are a lot less shitty than we’re led to believe.
If you’re considering traveling and don’t have anyone to join you, just go. And when you do, keep these things in mind…
Go, Go, Go!
I get it. It’s scary, but the hardest part of going is actually going. Do your research, find a dope hostel, check out popular attractions, and go! I promise you’ll make friends along the way. The amount of people traveling alone, and also looking for friends, is astounding! I was SO SCARED when I did my first solo trip, but I loved it so much I’ve been doing it alone since. I even have a fiance, and I travel alone as much as possible. It is empowering beyond explanation.
Listen To Your Gut
If something is telling you “no” or “you should leave” you need to get the hell out of there. Don’t do something just because other people are doing it. Be you. Be strong. Use your brain. Trust yourself. There is a reason that little voice in your head harasses you about potentially dangerous situations. Don’t ignore it. Please don’t be a sad story I read on Buzzfeed.
You’re going to meet some wild folks, and sometimes they’re going to do stuff that throws you for a loop but chill… they’re Dutch. You don’t have to do it too. My least favorite traveler is the “judge.” Don’t be the “judge.” If you’re not with it, we don’t need to know. Stand your ground and be you, but also let others do the same.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll be hopping from place to place, and easy mobility is critical. The most frustrating thing about traveling, besides squatty potties, is lugging 30lbs of luggage around with you. If you think “hm… will I need this?” you won’t. Leave it. Pro Tip: I highly recommend using Gonex Compression Packing Cubes from Amazon when packing. Any serious travel will tell you packing without compression cubes is insanity. Pack like a pro and get a cube. Seven shirts will magically turn into two.
Don’t Be Afraid (Be Aware)
It’s one thing if you genuinely feel uneasy about a situation, but don’t be a pansy. From my experience, locals are typically extraordinarily kind and helpful, and days spent with them always end with great stories and amazing food. I wouldn’t advise you to hop on the back of a motorbike with a dude transporting machetes, but exploring alone and meeting locals along the way is a great way to immerse yourself in the culture.
Don’t Stay In One Place For Too Long
I guarantee wherever you are, no matter how beautiful it is, it plays second fiddle to what you’re missing out on. There’s always more to experience. I’m begging you not to get too comfortable in one place. That is one of the biggest mistakes travelers make. There is so much to see! Even if it sucks, just go see it. You may meet some cool people… or get food poisoning. Who knows?
Don’t Travel Alone At Night
This goes without saying, right? You may be surprised at how comfortable you’ll feel after being somewhere for a while and how quickly you let your guard down. Don’t do it. I’m speaking from experience. Regardless of how comfortable you feel, you are not local and you don’t have the upper hand. Please use discernment and be safe. Even in the safest countries (South Korea) walking around alone at night can be dangerous. Just ask the guy that attacked me at 2 am in Hongdae.
Don’t Hold Back
Am I the only person that looks back on amazing experiences I’ve had and thinks “ugh, did I really need those extra naps?” When you’re traveling, be intentional about making the most of the experience. Take that extra shot, kiss him one more time, and dance a little longer. Life is made to be enjoyed!