Should you solo travel? A WMGT panel talk at Balance Festival, London
Solo travel is amazing, but it isn’t always an easy ride. However, it’s in the difficult moments that we are forced to dig deep and discover exactly what we’re made of. Taking the plunge to head out on a 4-month solo adventure was the best decision I’ve ever made, both for personal growth and for my career. It was the trip that marked me taking my part-time passion for travelling to a full-time career.
A couple of weeks ago, I headed to Balance Festival (a health and wellness festival) in London with three of the WMGT family to host a panel talk. We shared the good, the challenging and the life changing when it comes to solo travel.
Meet the panel…
Hollie, 28. Full time traveller and graphic designer. Moved abroad solo to Australia during her second year of university.
Carmela, 22. Hussling full-time to promote Lost Worldwide. Travelled solo in Australia and more solo travel planned this year!
Jack, 19. Currently exploring the world. Interrailled solo around Europe for two months.
Let’s talk: solo travel…
WHERE DID YOU SOLO TRAVEL? WHAT MADE YOU DO IT?
Hollie: When I was 19 I studied abroad for my second year of University in Melbourne Australia. I had always known I wanted to live abroad, so I looked at different ways I could make that happen. This seemed like the easiest and safest way to do it without taking a gap year before graduating. Since then I’ve travelled with my sister, and now I travel full-time with my boyfriend.
Jack: I’ve just got back from interrailing around Europe. I went because I felt like I needed a change in my life. I had (and still have!) a burning desire to travel and see the world.
Carmela: I visited Australia and did a 5-week trip stretching from Melbourne to Sydney, and then all the way up the East Coast to the Whitsundays. During my travels I joined Mollie’s WMGT Fraser Island trip, and I must say, it was most definitely a highlight! Prior to this, I’d always been lucky enough to travel a fair amount with family. At university I also did a year abroad in Italy. I always knew post-uni that I would take a couple of years to myself to explore.
SUM UP YOUR SOLO TRAVEL EXPERIENCE IN 2 WORDS
Hollie: Character-building & eye-opening.
Jack: Freedom & growth.
Carmela: Perspective-changing & refreshing.
WHAT WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON SOLO TRAVEL TAUGHT YOU?
Hollie: That anything is possible! It also taught me to step outside of my comfort zone, because that’s where the exciting life changing things happen!
Jack: I learnt how I take a lot of things granted. Everything is so easy at home and solo travel taught me how to appreciate things a lot more.
Carmela: I could never have imagined how much I could gain and learn whilst away. I learnt that I can do anything I apply myself to, and that I’m a lot braver than I thought. I learnt to take every opportunity life threw my way and to run as far as I could with it.
Despite having been in Australia less than 2 months, I was able to have that lightbulb moment and that moment of clarity everyone had promised me. I had left for Australia with not much direction or conviction in what I wanted to do after university, and Australia changed all of that for me. Whilst travelling I found the courage to pursue a passion and idea that I had worked on whilst at university.
A few months down the line, and my project is coming to life and it is so rewarding. Lost WorldWide has since began to grow and seeing this platform that I’ve worked so hard to build come to life is so rewarding. The community that I’ve been able to create is honestly so humbling. I’m able to connect with people and provide a platform for full-time and part-time travellers whose stories and advice deserve to be shared.
Check out my lessons I learnt whilst solo travelling here.
HOW DO YOU COMBAT LONELINESS WHEN YOU’RE SOLO TRAVELLING?
Hollie: Honestly the loneliest and scariest bit is getting on the plane by yourself. Then, as long as your staying in a hostel, the next thing to do is just start talking to people and I promise that’s when everything gets sooo much fun! Book onto group tours early on in your trip and then see who you meet along the way!
Jack: I’d say calling home if you feel lonely will make you feel a lot better.
Carmela: Don’t be shy! I know it’s easier said than done, but just remember that everyone is likely to be in the same position: in a foreign country & travelling alone. If you don’t feel comfortable visiting places or landmarks alone, book onto tours. Also, join Facebook groups (like WMGT!) – they are a great way to meet people.
A lot of people are worried about being lonely when travelling. I think it depends on how you travel and what you’re like as a character.
Check out my top tips for making friends while travelling solo here.
Check out my advice for pre-travel nerves and saying goodbye to loved ones before a long trip here.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP TIPS TO MAKE THE MOST OUT OF THE SOLO TRAVEL EXPERIENCE?
Hollie: Be flexible with your time and plans. You never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll find along the way!
Carmela: Be adventurous – if you aren’t sure whether to do something, just ask yourself, “if I never have the opportunity to visit that place again, will I regret not going?”. Also, keep an open mind & try not to book too many things in advance; I’m guilty of being too organised sometimes. Australia taught me to go with the flow and to fully embrace a far more chilled out approach to life.
Check out my tops tips for being flexible and being a spontaenous traveller here.
Jack: I think talking to locals and asking them where to travel is a great way to see places which are unknown and could be really cool. I’d also say packing lightly is important, as it will make everything so much easier and will allow you to enjoy yourself more.
Check out my video guide for packing your backpack here.
WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE FOR SOMEONE CONSIDERING A SOLO ADVENTURE?
Hollie: Just do it! Don’t wait for someone else to be ready to go away with. Just book a plane ticket and your first few nights’ accommodation, and go for it! For me, having a university to go to made solo travel an easy choice because I was guaranteed to meet lots of other people who also wanted to make friends. Then, after my semester ended I travelled the East Coast of Australia with three girls I had met at university. 9 years later we are still friends, and I have been to visit them in the USA since.
So, trust me, what might start as solo travel, never ends up being that way for long!
Carmela: Do it! Be brave & bold. Book that ticket! Please don’t wait for someone to join you. I met my travel buddy whilst away, and to this day we are great friends and talk regularly. Trust me, you will meet people. Plus, if you don’t go whilst you have the chance, that opportunity may never present itself again.
Jack: Just remember when things get tough or lonely to not give up, as it will all be worth it in the end.
Solo travel is ultimately a journey into yourself.
To me, it played such a crucial part in getting to know who I am and who I want to be.
We all solo travel for different reasons, but one that we all have in common is that we want a change in perspective. We want to escape what we know and grow.
Of course, you can do that without jumping on a plane and exploring on your own, but solo travel is forces you to commit to doing it. It’s intense. It’s a rollercoaster.
In fact, it’s a lot of things.
Check out my post about the ups and downs of solo travel here.
Good or bad experiences behind them, I’ve never heard someone say they regret the decision. So if you’re thinking about it, I’m the number one advocate of ‘just go and get it; chase your curiosity‘.
Thank you Balance Festival for having us!
Find out more about Balance Festival and book your tickets for next year’s event here.
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Have you solo travelled?
What would your advice be for a new solo traveller? I’d love to know!
Love as always + happy adventuring,
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