In 2016  – I started to take my first solo trip around the world. In the first few months I realized that traveling alone really has some true differences to traveling as a group. Traveling alone can be a life changing experience but it’s not without its realities and challenges. I feel that the trip itself is like the journey to life, there will be ups and down along the way but at the end of it you will never regret the obstacles that you overcame. Solo travel has already grown me in ways I have never thought but here are the 7 challenges I have realized during my time to travel.

Shit happens

No matter where you go what country you are in, at some point something will always go wrong. I have booked hostels on the wrong dates, got bus tickets going the wrong direction, and had train delays up to 6 hours. During my travels I was stuck out on the street for a few hours in the middle of the night once because I thought a train that was an overnight train but really wasn’t.

Don’t be afraid if something doesn’t go as planned. Part of traveling alone is that you have plenty of options and unlimited flexibility. There will always be a hostel room open somewhere in the city. Many hostels are extremely friendly and will also help you book rooms in other hostels if you don’t speak the local language. When I was stuck out on the street, a hotel allowed me to stay in their revolving door area while I waited for the train station to reopen at 4:00 am in the morning. You realize that everything will be okay even if 5 things go wrong in the same day.

Tourists Everywhere

Ever look at online travel pictures and think that wow this place is beautiful? That picture looks amazing! I can’t wait to be there by myself and take all these great pictures. Reality check – most of these pictures have been photoshopped in some way that don’t always reflect the true reality of the area. Also – every major attraction or spot has tourists, no matter how you are trying to take a picture there will always be tourists around ruining your experience or worse getting into your selfies.

Even though there are ridiculous amounts of tourists at every location! It usually means that there are more options when it comes to asking someone to take your picture. Also it has taught me to be tough and aggressive when I want to get my picture. I also noticed that you can see things at the attraction you might never have seen by watching other tourists.

tourists everywhere

Free Wifi is a Pain

When I did have data I use to never think about how hard it was to navigate from one area to another or figure out information on the go. But free wifi in foreign countries are extremely slow and usually hard to use. Wifi out in the city usually requires you to buy something at their store or sit down and eat at the restaurant.  Sometimes even the wifi in the hostel you stay at is horrific which leads to issues with trying to load your bus ticket or train ticket for your journey the next day or even planning your activities the next day!

Without having a data on the go I have grown extremely good at using paper maps and instinctively knowing which way is north vs. east in any city that I travel in. By not having data you will start to learn how easy it is to navigate in a city’s public transportation system. If all else fails you can always download offline maps off of google or use an app like maps.me to get offline maps ahead of time. Lastly, asking locals the directions is so much more fun than using your phone, I have countless experiences of 5 minute walk and talks with locals and gotten some of the greatest tips about a city from asking about directions!free wifi

You Are Alone!

When you are traveling alone you realize that at some point you truly are alone. You start to see couples at all the attractions you visit. There is no one to save your spot in line if you need to pee. You have to sit on the ride alone and you still need to make all the decision if you are tired. Some attractions are meant to be done with groups of people instead of by yourself.

Luckily there are loads of solo travelers from all over the world. Even if you are a natural introvert like me you will quickly learn to socialize and join others in their itinerary’s when you learn about their journey. One trick I use is to always book 4 or 6 bedroom mixed dorms. These smaller rooms usually provide an easier environment to talk and learn about other people’s experience!alone pictureI had a friend I met in the hostel take this picture!:)

Getting Sick!

At some point during your long travels, you will get sick either through other people or because you were unable to take care of yourself. I have also gotten diarrhea and a load of insect bites while traveling around. Nothing ruins an experience in a city like getting sick.

After getting sick once, I truly learned how to take care of my health including how to politely excuse myself from someone who is sick to moving away and requesting a room change in a hostel. By watching these items I truly learned to be aware of my surroundings at all times not just for health but for safety as well. One tip is to make sure you bring Neosporin cream, pain medications, and also diarrhea meds while your travel.

sick pictures

Some people aren’t clean!

During your hostel stays, you will always have unlucky instances where you will have a hostel mate who just doesn’t like to shower or eats all over their bed drops the crumbs onto yours (both has happened to me). Sometimes the smell can be so disgusting or the snore is so loud that you can’t fall asleep! If you in a room full of boys, they might all like to come in drunk at 3 in the morning. I have even seen someone piss on someone else’s bed.

Through these experiences I have learned to truly enjoy help and hospitality. No matter what the situation is there are always staff, locals, and travelers who will help you through your situation no matter what. It is comforting to know that there are actually genuine people in the world that always want to help you no matter what.

New Friends are Short and Superficial

While traveling through a variety of hostels you will make friends from all over the world. The only problem is that you guys spend some together having fun and then you split directions and go on your separate ways. Most of the time everyone just wants to drink together and have some fun at night and call it quits! This repeat experience can make you feel extremely lonely at times and disinterested in meeting new people as you move further along your trip.

No worries though, even though many friends are only for the short term, some friends you end up meeting again in another city and keep in touch with for a long lasting time. Due to the world of social media, keeping in touch has never been easier and to this day I have made 2 long lasting friendships with people who are traveling. Also when meeting new people, you get to learn about their travel experiences and possibly learn from their mistakes and adjust your trip accordingly.

You ready to travel?

And that’s a wrap, here are some of the most annoying challenges I have faced while traveling alone. Solo travel really does bring in a new perspective to life. I have suffered and gone through every one of these experiences but realized that each one has developed my self-confidence and social skills in different ways. Developing your self-confidence is a life skill that is truly hard to maintain. Now that you know some of the difficulties, go and tackle them yourself on solo travel!

Have some annoying things you deal with? Comment or shoot me an email so I can hear about your experience!