The world is full of adventurous souls, discovering new and exciting lands every day, and many of these travellers are doing it solo. Going it alone can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience, but it is not without its trials and tribulations. So what is the worst thing about solo travel?
For me, it is dining alone. I can go to a museum, visit a monument, wander around a city to my heart’s content; all quite happily by myself. However, the challenge for me starts in the evening when I go out for dinner. And I love dining out; it is an essential part of any holiday or visit to a new place – to enjoy the local cuisine and sample the dishes on offer. But it is a traumatic experience for the solo traveller, with so many obstacles to overcome.
Where should I go? Is it busy enough that it might be good? Or so busy that they won’t want to seat one person by themselves? And that awkward moment when the waiter/waitress brings two menus because he/she assumes your companion is in the bathroom or running late, and you have to explain to them that it is just you. Dining alone. A table for one. Because you have no-one to eat with.
Then comes the look. That expression of pity mingled with a touch of surprise and even respect; ah a table for one?! Of course madam, right this way…. And you wind your way through the tables of happy families, romantic couples, other diners also gazing at you with that same expression. You can see them wondering; why is she alone? Where is her boyfriend/husband/lesbian life partner? They can’t understand why I am there or what I am doing all by myself.
Once that first ordeal is over with, then comes the quandary of what to order. Then, especially, is a difficult time for tapas, platters and mezzes as these dishes were all designed to share. Patatas Bravas on your own really don’t taste as good as they do with a friend. And how much to order? Usually if I was treating myself to dinner with friends we would perhaps share a starter, try each other’s main courses and plump for a dessert to finish off. But three courses all by myself? Not only does that appear greedy when I do that without others around me for moral support (the “I’ll get a starter if you do” kind of support), but it also lengthens out the process, extending the time I am required to sit there on my own, braving the inquisitive and often judgmental stares from the staff and other diners. The silver lining is at least there’s no argument about splitting the bill!
But don’t pity me. I am not fishing for sympathy, or compliments on how brave I am to do this all by myself. I simply don’t have a choice. It is either do this by myself, or don’t do it at all. And to be honest I would much rather do it, than stay at home twiddling my thumbs, wishing I was somewhere else. The important thing for me is to do it. Get out there! When I think of all the amazing places I have seen whilst travelling alone I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. And I have grown and learnt so much from my experiences.
So for me, although sometimes challenging, the positives of solo travel far outweigh the negatives – and all the experiences you’ll bring home are worth a million funny looks in a restaurant. It might not be easy but it is always incredibly rewarding – and you get to show off to all your friends back home about how awesome it was!
What do you think? What are the negatives (and positives) of travelling alone? I’d love to hear your experiences and opinions! And keep an eye out for my tips on solo travel coming soon – but don’t wait for that, just book your trip!