SOLO IN THE SUNSHINE
A dark voice with an easter european accent is mumbling on the loud speaker. As I wipe the sleep off my eyes I can see little white islands appearing beneath the airplane wing. They are shaped like tear drops on the horizon. I am awake, ready for my solo adventure.
More about my Croatian adventure later. Now let's talk about you! Have you ever wanted to travel somewhere, had the time and the money but no one to go with? Maybe you thought "I can't do this on my own! I will get bored and lonely. Who will I eat dinner with at night? Who will I share those new experiences with?" And then you decide to stay home. I am here to tell you that you should not!
Kick those fears in the butt and buy that ticket anyways. I am 100 percent sure you will not regret going. Just follow these simple tips on how to travel solo:
1. CHECK WHAT IS GOING ON BEFORE YOU GO
If you are not the type of person who loves silence for days and mosquitos as your only company, I recommend you go to a place with a lot going on. You can check this online before you go. Are there activities you can do, like boat trips, hiking, kayaking or a festival? These activities will attract other travellers and you will be sure to meet new and adventurous people like yourself. 2. STAY IN A SOCIAL PLACE Do not go to an all inclusive hotel. Been there, done that. Aqua aerobics in the hotel pool together with old ladies with blue hair is not my favourite activity. Definately not a place to meet cool people! Check tripadvisor or hostelworld for places with an area to hang out. Does the place have a bar or hammocks? Read what other people are saying. Most hostels have singel rooms too, so you do not have to sleep with ten other people in a dorm.
There are so many people travelling the world at all times, many of them solo travellers. And when you travel alone, people are more likely to go over to you and talk!
3. CHECK WHAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT THE HOTEL/HOSTEL
4. BRING A GUIDE
5. PRINT OR TAKE A PHOTO WITH YOUR PHONE OF THE ADRESS OF YOUR HOSTEL
You might not be able to access the internet at the airport where you are landing. In this time of 3G and iphones everywhere, it is easy to forget you will not be able to use your phone everywhere in a different country. When I travelled to Cuba I had the hotel name in my email and realized there was no wifi at the airport, 3G or Edge in Cuba. I was interrogated at the airport by police men for three hours since I had professional camera equipment. They were asking me where I was going and I could not find out because all of the information was on my phone. They thought I was lying and took my microphones from me. Not a fun experience, and I always make sure I take a screen shot of the hotel name and directions after that.
4. CHECK OUT HOW TO GET FROM THE AIRPORT TO THE HOSTEL BEFORE YOU GO
Maybe ask the hostel if they do transport, so you will not have to take trains or metros from the airport the first time. It can be frustrating after a long travel to figure out a transport system in a new country and in another language. Do the research before you go.
5. ALWAYS GET CASH AT THE AIRPORT
You are alone, so you need to have some cash with you if something happens.
6. MAKE SURE YOU PACK MONEY AND CREDIT CARDS IN DIFFERENT PLACES You might loose your bag, and when you are alone, no one is there to pay for that taxi or help you find your way with no money. Having money in a couple of different places can save you from a lot of troubles.
7. THE FIRST TIME YOU TRAVEL ALONE, JUST GO FOR A COUPLE OF DAYS If you hate being on your own and do not meet anyone to hang out with, you are on your way back in the blink of an eye. It is usually easier to meet new people the longer you stay, but if you have never done this before, ease into it! 8. TALK TO PEOPLE This one sounds obvious, but it is just as important. Do not be afraid of being that person who wants to know where people are from, what they are doing and if they are keen to have a drink or eat dinner. You are not a social weirdo just because you are travelling alone. You are actually tougher than the others you meet who travel in groups, so start that conversation. To my fellow Norwegians: I know you do not like to talk to strangers, but it is the way to go if you want to travel solo. Unless you want a trip ALL by yourself.
9. ASK THE HOSTEL ABOUT ACTIVITIES
Hostels usually arrange day trips, like the trip I did in Zadar to Kornati Islands. It is a great way to see stuff without figuring everything out on your own.
10. HAVE FUN!
If you find yourself feeling lonely, do something for yourself. You will be back in your normal routine faster than you know. Get a massage, or do something crazy. How about something to write off your bucket list? A skydive. Or a hike to a beautiful place. You are free to do whatever you want, and no one is stopping you but yourself!
You are heading somewhere you have never been. Somewhere where adventures are born and new friends are waiting. I say you should JUST DO IT!
Crystal clear croatia - a solo experience
The cloudy weather in Zadar sums up how i feel on my second day in Croatia. I walk around by myself, see families eating ice cream and couples kissing. Oh well, at least im not at home working.. I get a massage and go back to the hostel and chat to a girl from Hong Kong who has spent the summer in Finland. I try to sleep but a japanese woman has the hickups in my dorm. Every five seconds she makes a sound which is funny at first, and very annoying after a couple of minutes. She smells like fish teryaki from the dinner she just made in the hostel kitchen. Then she farts! She just lays in her bed without saying anything. The smell just cannot get any worse. I put my ear plugs in and pull the sheets over my head. Hopefully tomorrow is less full of farts and cloudy skies and more full of sunshine.
The next morning I wake up as the girl from Hong kong is getting ready to leave. I go for a run along the sea side of the old town and watch the sunrise. At eight im ready for the boat trip and the Karnaki Islands. And this is when i understand why i travel alone, if no one has time to go with me. On the boat I meet two nice girls from Germany and a guy from Zagreb. The crew serve us vodka in plastic cups for breakfast. Happy tunes are coming from the loud speakers:
"Where can you begin to make your dreams all come true On the land or on the sea Where can you learn to fly(...)" In the navy Yes, you can sail the seven seas In the navy Yes, you can put your mind at ease In the navy"
As salt water splashes up on my naked feet and my new friends sit beside me i think about how great it all is. Magic does happen outside your comfort zone and life can be pretty amazing travelling solo. If I would have stayed home it would have been an ordinary rainy Tuesday. Now i am on a boat on turqoise water in a croatian national park. Norway and Oslo seem far away for a few hours. We sing along to the happy tunes on the boat, eat fresh fish and drink home made wine. I enjoy every moment of it, apart from the wine which tastes like apple cider vinegar. The next day i will be back home again, with memories of salt water and tunes of happiness on crystal clear croatian water.
A very happy solo traveller on Kornati Islands, Croatia.
And this is the happy crew on the boat to Kornati Islands. Two Germans and a Norwegian.