Those of you who have been following my journey will remember when I posted about the reactions of people as they realised I was planning on travelling across Asia, Australia and New Zealand by myself. Solo. Alone. Big decision right? And not one I took lightly, but by the time I made this decision, I had asked several friends who had all been unable to get out of commitments - jobs, relationships, houses.... The list goes on and still meant I was no closer to getting out and seeing the world. Then I realised, what am I more scared of - never getting the chance to achieve my dream of travelling or facing it independently? Once I weighed up my options, I knew that although it was a scary decision, it was the right one to go by myself.
So how has it actually been? Well, after travelling solo for just under a month already - boy that time has flown by! I can say it has been the easiest and the most natural thing in the world. I have loved every second of this journey and have met so many amazing people, seen some amazing places and have become more confident than ever in my ability to do this, to complete the next (hopefully) 11 months of my time away and smash it. So this post is to put your minds at ease and to make you realise quite how easy it is to travel by yourself, and how in so many ways it is actually far better than travelling with another person or a group. Trust me, once you get over the first bit, it's really not scary at all.
Okay, so sitting in the airport alone was the first time the nerves kicked in and it really hit me what I was about to do. A glass of wine to steady the butterflies, and I made the mistake of checking my phone which was full of soppy, sweet and emotional messages from everyone I knew - welled up a bit didn't I?! It was so touching to receive so many messages of support and really helped me get over my fears. This was the first time I had ever flown alone and it was just a week after yet another plane had disappeared, but I actually loved it. So what was I afraid of? I'm not even 100% sure now but it was things like being lonely, not having anyone to share my experiences with, not being able to cope with organising, feeling unsafe, having to admit defeat and come home. All pretty irrational fears as I knew none of these things would actually happen - I know enough girls who have done similar trips and been fine, so why would I be any different?
I happened to see a quote on the day I left about it being good to do something if it scares you. I love that idea, all the biggest decisions in life are the scariest and yet the ones we take the biggest risks on tend to turn out the best. We just have to be brave enough to make the first move. I did make the first move and it has truly paid off better than I ever could have imagined. Not for a single moment have I been completely alone, I have had some of the best experiences with new friends that I know I will stay in contact with and meet up with later on, one even invited me to her wedding! I have had people to eat with, to dance with, to go out on boat trips with, to hang out with... The list goes on. I am actually starting to reach a point where I crave some time completely to myself. But it is wonderful and even more amazing, I have not once had to make the first move, the other travellers always beat me to it because everyone is so damn friendly here.
The organising has been astonishingly easy - ferries, flights, buses and the rest are all on offer everywhere and all you need to do is decide where you want to go. So simple. Leaving you more time to chill at the beach instead. I don't think I have every known a country to be so easy to travel round, but so many backpackers have trodden this route ahead of you it is easy to follow in their footsteps. As for feeling unsafe, that couldn't be further from how I feel. Thailand is probably one of the safest countries to travel solo as a woman. Ignore the newspapers, trust me, I used to work for one and know how they sensationalise the smallest story. It really is safe here. Don't ever get complacent and take risks because you feel so safe, and I certainly won't be wandering down any dark alleys alone at night or leaving my passport out on the table in a bar. But don't feel scared to stay in a bungalow on your own, or to do anything. The people here are (mostly) the kindest people I have ever met, who will go beyond the call of duty to help you find your way, and your fellow travellers are always on hand. Never really being alone means I've always had someone with me, and if not, there are so many people around all the time that you feel so much more comfortable.
My main point in all this? Don't listen to your parents, all the worrywarts or any of those who react in shock when you say you're going alone. Ignore anyone who goes on about how "brave" you are for doing it. It's not brave once you get out here, it's standard. And all those travellers who have said doing it alone is the best way to go are right, yes it's a little more expensive at times, but it means you are completely independent and yet never lonely. You don't have to have the intense one-on-one relationship between two travellers, you don't have to have arguments in the group, and you never have to wait for everyone to be ready before you go to the beach, simple! Trust me, everyone I have met so far is insanely jealous I am doing it alone and they are travelling with a group, and after experiencing travelling with a group for a few days I am even more glad to be independent. I can see so plainly that I have the better end of the deal in so many ways. I've also realised that the majority of those who have approached me here wouldn't have done so if I had been travelling with a partner. The only thing I'm not looking forward to is when I get poorly, which is bound to happen at some point, and I have no one to look after me. But even then, I will find a way to cope and to smash it.
Thinking about travelling solo but scared to take the first step? Tell me about your fears and let me reassure you...