In recent times solo travel has really been gassed up on social media platforms from Instagram to Twitter and everything else in between. I thought I would share my experience and hopefully give some perspective.
In November, I took my first solo trip – to Rwanda. From Kigali, I ventured out to Gisenyi to see Lake Kivu and then Musanze near Volcanoes National Park where the mountain gorillas are found. Travelling solo did three things for me:
1) For someone used to having a travel partner take care of things, I adulted real quick! I decided on the travel date, paid for my flight, planned out my itinerary, how to get there, accommodations, what time to set off every morning etc. I took care of every facet of the trip. I remember someone remarking “Call me when you get stuck” because they just couldn’t fathom how I could do this by myself. Well, I did!!
2) For someone who’s not good at peopling, solo travel forced me to get out of my cocoon. I struck up conversations, asked for recommendations, directions, negotiated and much more. I made friends who will hopefully come to Kenya next year!
3) My greatest fear in this trip was losing my documents (how would I get back home?!) and camera (thing is expensive!). And more importantly, my life and no one would know where I was. At one point in Gisenyi, the boda guy kept going and going and I kept thinking, is this how it ends? 😄 But I pushed through the fear… and the discomfort of taking my own photos at the beach with strangers looking on! I made these four boys laugh as I posed, went back to the camera to see the shot, posed again…
Above all, this Rwanda trip taught me to do ish alone! To stop waiting for someone else to get their act together. If you have the means to travel, then do it. Waiting for others may stop you from taking a much-anticipated trip.
And while it was a major highlight of my year, I couldn’t help but contrast the Rwanda trip to the Tsavo one I took in March with friends. I laughed so hard and had so much fun just because of those incredible folks.
Here’s what you miss out on when you travel solo:
1) Someone to share your opinion about stuff with! Who do you tell when the food looks strange? I remember in Rwanda being served fries which had unpeeled potatoes and in my mind I was like WTH?! I couldn’t say it out loud in order not to offend anyone but it would have been great to say it to someone.
2) There’s a sense of safety in numbers. Rheenruby on IG asked what stopped folks from traveling alone and the number one reason was safety. The fear of being injured, getting lost or losing one’s life is very real for most people. Having someone or a group to travel with diminishes that fear because you know you are not alone. And if you have too many tequila shots then someone is there to drag you back to the AirBnB!
3) Lastly is great to reminisce about a destination with someone else. Having a nostalgic trip down memory lane with a buddy is so much better than laughing or cringing on those memories by yourself.
Is solo travel for you?
Thanks for reading xoxoxo!