I got a lot of interesting reactions when I told people I would be traveling solo in Croatia. For the most part, everyone thought it was something “very cool” and “brave” – And to be honest, I definitely felt that way too. But I also had a lot of people asking me if I was scared. And the answer was “yes”.
But perhaps “scared” was not the right word. It was more of a nervousness. And it was 100% natural. For the first time in my life, I was going to be traveling to a foreign country by myself. The excitement definitely outweighed the nervousness, but not knowing what to expect can be a little scary.
I eased my fears by doing a TON of research before. I talked to friends you had been, read a lot of blog posts and articles about traveling in the country, and thoroughly examined a Croatia map. So I felt ready.
And Croatia was actually probably the best place for me to try a solo trip. I was still getting the experience of a foreign country, but there were a lot of things that made it easier on me. Like that fact that Croatia is a country with so many multi-lingual people. For the most part, everyone I met spoke English well. Which always makes it easier when there’s not a communication barrier.
And because it’s a small country, navigating Croatia was super easy. Unless you want to go farther inland, really there’s just one main drag that will get you up and down the coastline. And they drive on the same side of the road as the United States, so I didn’t have to worry about reorienting myself. Which was such a relief for me, because there was still a lot of anxiety about traveling alone in a new country.
The Benefits of Traveling Alone
Let’s start with this: I don’t mind traveling solo. In fact, on a lot of my weekend trips around California, I’ve mostly been doing all of those on my own. What I like about it is that it allows me to set my schedule and do the things that I really want to do.
I think that started after having a negative experience of traveling abroad with someone a couple of years ago. It became very clear that we had different traveling styles, which put a damper on the trip. But it made me realize that I wanted to be a more independent traveler, which is essentially what I’ve done since that trip. In fact, that European getaway was what started this blog! 🙂
But what I really love about traveling solo is that it pushes you to meet new people and try new things. I can be a little shy upfront, so this concept was a little hard for me. But I met some of the nicest people in Croatia just from simply sitting somewhere on my own and striking up a conversation with a stranger sitting nearby.
Things To Keep In Mind When Traveling Alone
Safety is definitely an issue (especially as a woman). So be diligent. What I told my family (that helped ease their minds) was that I’m always extremely aware of my surroundings and untrusting of new people. Haha, and that might sound a little sad, but it’s true!
Essentially what I mean by that is that I’m never going to say ‘yes’ to doing something with someone that I just met while alone. It’s just not going to happen. And that might make for a less spontaneous trip, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.
And I’ve found in most situations if you can always be aware of your surroundings and be responsible, you’ll be just fine traveling alone.
The Downside of Traveling Alone
So, we talked about the reasons why I love traveling solo, but there are downsides to traveling alone, too. And the first note I have one this is that it’s simply not for everyone! Thankfully, I enjoy my company, so it’s never been a problem for me to be on my own for a long period. However, I have family members and friends who are much more extroverted and need to be around people. So, I’d say know yourself before trying a solo trip. If you know that’s going to be hard for you to travel without a companion, then I’d say you should hold off until you can find a friend to go with.
And let me be clear – even though I can spend a lot of time on my own, that’s not to say that there are not moments of loneliness either.
In fact, I have a lot of moments where I’m doing something cool or seeing something beautiful, and I wish I had someone there to experience it with me.
In fact, my biggest reaction to this happened to me during my time in Croatia. On my last night in the country, I cried! It happened when I walked onto the balcony of my Airbnb and was completely surprised by the most gorgeous sunset. I had two emotions – the first was that I felt so grateful for that moment. I was on the last leg of such an incredible travel experience and it felt like such a sweet goodbye. But the second emotion I felt was loneliness.
This might be a little too personal, but in those lonely moments, I’m mostly longing for “the” person. The person I’ll one day get to share my life with. Explore with. Go on adventures with. He’s not here yet, but I’m very much looking forward to meeting him. So, I think that’s the part that makes me sad sometimes. I get to witness really beautiful things on my own (which I feel so grateful for!), but I’d love more than anything to share those moments with someone I love, too.
It makes me think of this quote from the movie Into The Wild.
“Happiness isn’t real unless it is shared.” – Christopher McCandless
I’m not sure I agree with it entirely, but there is something to be said of sharing happy moments with the people you love. And I can’t say that I didn’t share my sunset “moment” with anyone! I started a text thread with my family while I was abroad, so moments like this, when I did feel alone, they were only a text (or quick phone call) away.
And the plus side to social media is that you can connect with others all around the world. So for me, uploading that photo to Instagram was also gratifying because I love sharing these kinds of inspirational moments with others.
So, as I close up this post, I wanted to do a quick recap of my experience traveling solo.
After I convinced myself that I was, indeed, going to do a trip by myself, I decided to make my first solo trip as easy on me as possible. So, I was considering things like choosing a country that had a high rate of English speakers (as a second language), a place where the crime rate was low, and a smaller country to make navigation easy.
Those were the things that were important for me to feel comfortable. Especially if I’m going to push myself out of my comfort zone. But pushing myself to do something that was a little scary also ended up being such an enriching and rewarding experience. And if you can, I absolutely think you should experience the ups and downs of traveling on your own. It’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made.
Let’s go places,
All photos on this blog are mine. Feel free to share but please credit me with a link back to the blog. Much appreciated and thank you for your support!