In pursuit of the ultimate feeling of independence, I finally took the plunge and went on my first solo trip to Switzerland.
Not only did I live to tell the tale, but I absolutely LOVED my long weekend in Geneva, which turned out to be the perfect place for a first-time independent adventure (price tag aside).
It was very much a trip of ‘firsts’ for me, because not only was it my first solo trip, it was also my first time staying in a hostel, and my first time in Switzerland – you could say I like to throw myself in the deep end.
Whether you’re a seasoned solo traveller or are thinking about popping your solo-trip cherry, here are a few lessons I learnt from mine.
1. People talk to you
A lot of people like to travel to meet other people, but I’ll be honest, I never really socialise much when travelling. It’s not because I’m avoiding doing so, but when you’re with friends or your partner, you tend to stick together. So unless it’s meeting others in a small group tour I’ve joined, I don’t usually get the opportunity to socialise outside of this.
Travelling alone was obviously different, though. Not only did I have much more chances of speaking to others, but I also found people actually came up to initiate conversation with me. These were usually other solo travellers who I’d met along the way, but a lot of people would also stop and ask you to take their photo, sometimes leading to a chat. Being on your own clearly makes you more approachable, and having that little bit of social interaction during the day is also quite welcome.
2. Hostels are totally fine
I was probably more anxious about staying in a hostel than going to a whole new country by myself. I’m all about affordable luxury, so sharing a room with strangers isn’t something I’d usually sign up for. I’d say I did it for the experience, but the fact that hotels in Geneva are really expensive also helped the decision!
I booked myself into an all-female dorm, and despite my initial anxiety, I was surprised at how quickly I found myself feeling comfortable in a shared environment. I don’t know whether I just got lucky or whether it’s always like that, but everyone I met throughout my stay was lovely, and I also slept pretty well each night – with the exception of one night when I accidentally had a double espresso before bed, but that’s an entirely different story…
3. It’s liberating
Being independent was one of the six reasons I had for taking a solo trip, and anyone else who’s travelled alone will probably tell you how liberating it is to explore all by yourself. Now I know exactly how true that is too – I loved being able to go wherever I wanted, do what I wanted and when I wanted, with absolutely no compromise.
4. You feel less self-conscious
It might sound weird, but I actually felt more confident travelling by myself than with someone else. I think it’s because you’re so wrapped up in doing your own thing and deciding what to do next, that you forget about any insecurities.
Being by myself made me feel confident, reassured knowing that I could rely on myself and be independent. When you’re able to get comfortable after forcing yourself outside of your comfort zone, it gives you a good feeling – ‘look at me, here all alone and doing just fine’.
5. Eating alone is really enjoyable
I treated myself to a couple of meals out during my trip, and despite what might sound like one of the ‘weirdest’ things you can do nowadays, I can say I genuinely enjoyed it.
After a long day of walking around until my feet blistered, it was so nice to sit down and do nothing but enjoy a great meal with no debating about where to eat or what to order. Nobody cares that you’re on your own (trust me), and if you still feel self-conscious about the idea, ask yourself if you’ve ever judged someone else negatively for dining alone.
6. People think you’re brave for doing it
I don’t know if the feeling is emphasised if you’re a female solo traveller, but a lot people considered my trip a ‘brave’ thing to do. I do understand that mentality since it’s not something that everyone wants to do, or would be comfortable doing, but the truth is…
7. It’s not as scary as it sounds
Despite having a few general worries beforehand, I can happily say from my experience that solo travel is not nearly as scary as it sounds. Unless you’ve never set foot abroad or even been on a plane, traveling by yourself is probably nothing you haven’t done before and nothing you can’t do.
If you’re thinking about going it alone on your first solo trip, I can definitely recommend giving it a go!
Have you travelled solo before? Where did you go and how did you find the experience? Are you yet to take a solo trip? Let me know in the comments!