Solo travel is trending big time right now. More millennials than ever (37 percent) are planning a solo vacation this year. But myths abound that keep a lot of people dependent on traveling with friends. While there are must-follow rules for women traveling alone, there are also a ton of popular and safe countries to travel to solo that you won’t want to miss! We’re putting on our toughest hiking boots and kicking down the biggest misconceptions about adventuring alone — and showing you that the reality is a lot less scary than the myths.
1. Myth: You’ll be really, really lonely.
Reality: Unless you’re wandering around in the middle of the night in a deserted part of town — which we definitely DON’T recommend — you have full control over your loneliness level. For the most part, foreigners want to talk to you and other travelers love swapping stories. You can simply talk to the person sitting next to you during a 12-hour bus ride, or chat up your waiter over breakfast. There will definitely be times of loneliness, but that comes with embracing the unknown and doesn’t last forever.
2. Myth: Everyone wants to kidnap you.
Reality: While there are certain safety precautions you should take, this myth is pretty unfounded. There are a lot of good people out there who would much rather help you than kidnap you. For the most part, people don’t really care you’re there. They’re going about their day, and you’re just one more traveler in a sea of wide-eyed backpackers.
3. Myth: You have to be a self-proclaimed adventurer with tattoos to prove you’re a true traveler.
Reality: Anyone can and should travel. You might surprise people by telling them you’re an accountant taking your two weeks in Kathmandu, Nepal, but that won’t stop anyone from finding you completely interesting. Without a companion in tow to remind you of your identity at home, you can be whoever you want too. Hello self discovery session.
4. Myth: Foreigners will judge you for being a loner.
Reality: Most foreigners don’t really pay much attention to the people passing through their everyday lives. With the solo travel industry growing — 24 percent of travelers set out as lone wolfs in 2014 — it’s going to become even less unusual to see a woman heading out on her own. Interestingly, what most locals are curious about is your relationship status. They’ll just assume your husband is elsewhere, since cultural standards might be different in their country. This can be either an opportunity to share your story or have a little fun and fake a romance.
5. Myth: You’ll get lost.
Reality: OK, this one has some truth in it. Most likely, at one point or another you will get lost. But if you change your perspective and realize you’re going on an adventure for a reason, getting lost loses a lot of its negativity. By taking the “wrong” street, you might find a cute little coffee shop you wouldn’t have by sticking to the plan. Remember, people are generally friendly, so if you do get super lost just trust your gut and ask a shopkeeper for directions.
6. Myth: Your life back home will go on without you.
Reality: We live in the time of FOMO, so planning a solo trip while all of your friends are talking about the next big event can be tough. Not only are there tons of ways to stay connected, but once you get out on the open road you’ll remember why you booked that flight in the first place. There’s nothing like the freedom of exploring beyond your everyday life. Waking up in a new city to experience new sights and flavors is way more life-changing than attending yet another St. Patty’s party. You might even be surprised when you get back by how much things really haven’t changed.
What are some things that surprised you about solo travel? Tweet us your stories @BritandCo.
(Photos by Getty)