Katarina Jerman is a student at Northern Michigan University and an ISA Featured Photo Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in Berlin, Germany.
Traveling solo was easily the best decision I made while I was abroad, but when I first brought up the idea someone looked at me like I was crazy. “A 20 year-old girl traveling alone?” I got that quite a bit from my friends and family and even from people I met while traveling. I survived 5 weeks though and I have the best stories to share because of it. Whether it was hiking the Cinque Terre in Italy with a guy from Canada or sleeping in a train station in Croatia with 10 Irish girls, I kept my eyes open the whole time. Here are my top reasons why you should, even as a female, travel solo, including my top tips and tricks.
Reason 1: Traveling solo forces you to meet new people! Staying in hostels with up to 10 people sometimes allows you to interact with people really easily. The simple question ‘where are you from?’ becomes your most frequently used phrase. (Also the language barrier never seemed to be an issue, as the majority of people I met were from the US, Canada, Australia, the UK, or spoke English well enough to have a conversation with.)
Reason 2: “It changes you” sounds super cheesy but it’s kind of true. Being alone while traveling lets you move at your own pace, and you can get up really early or sleep in. You get to have your own schedule filled with what you want to do everyday. Moving at your own pace also means that when something goes wrong it doesn’t effect a huge group, but rather just you. For example, if you miss your train in a big group it might become a blame game or an intense situation. If I missed a train traveling alone, I just caught the next one. Overall I think traveling alone made me a much calmer person during intense situations. There was no one around to react to when something happened. I couldn’t complain to the person next to me about what happened, I just had to figure out what to do. This made me much more confident and independent in situations. Things going wrong turned into some of my favorite memories. Traveling alone though, you don’t have someone to ask “what did we do that day?” Instead, keep a journal, public or private, tracking what you do!
Extra tips and tricks: Get a feel for people before letting them know you’re alone, as solo people are bigger targets then groups. “Oh yeah I’m meeting friends later” is okay to say (even if by later you mean months away when you fly home). You can replace everything but yourself, even if it breaks the bank a little. Also, read as many blogs and Pinterest posts as possible! I probably read at least 100 blogs on solo traveling before I left. Another plus to solo traveling is you get to meet new people every few days, so clothes are the least of your worries. Bring less and enjoy/shop more!
The world awaits…discover it.