My Honest Thoughts on Solo Travel

I’m not a solo traveler. I never claimed to be one, I never used the label “solo female traveler” or the hashtag #wegosolo. Yet there were a few occasions I traveled more or less by myself, and my latest getaway to Vienna and Bratislava was even a classical solo trip. But honestly, I’m conflicted about solo travel.

I know, many travel bloggers rave about the experience of traveling solo. They all live by the phrase “alone is not lonely” or “solo travel is the best way to travel”.

But you know what? I’m not going to write a post like that about solo travel. Because it’s not just always great and “oh-you-will-meet-so-many-people-once-you-travel-alone”. I’m conflicted about solo travel although it took me a while to figure this out.

I had just turned 18 when my parents arranged a home stay in the United States for me. They distinctly wanted my sisters and me to spend some time overseas before we graduated from high school. It was a financial burden to take on for them, but both my parents had traveled through the States when they were young, and they wanted us to broaden our horizon in the same way. I was excited, but really, really scared: Security checks at the airport, a 9-hour-flight by myself, arriving in a country on the other side of the world without having ever met the people I was staying with… it was all really scary.

But people were kind even though I didn’t fill out all the forms correctly (I’m not sure customs would be this nice in 2014, but back then it really helped to be a scared little girl) and actually, flying across the Atlantic by myself it wasn’t so scary after all: It’s not too hard to figure out an airport by yourself, and a 9-hour-flight is not too bad by yourself if you have a couple of movies to watch. But still, during my two months in the States, I experienced a new kind of loneliness: Because it is possible to feel lonely when being surrounded by kind and caring people: As a foreigner and as someone who doesn’t know the language in all its depth, there will always be cultural barriers you can’t overcome easily and yes, you will feel lonely abroad.

After my American summer, it took me a long time to travel solo again.
It actually never even occurred to me that I should go anywhere by myself. Why would I?

Obviously though, I still had a lot of wanderlust-y thoughts stuck in my head and I had always dreamed of spending a longer period of time abroad and so I started saving up and planning my semester abroad in Portugal. I knew it was going to be tough figuring everything out by myself, but I also knew that I had to do it, because I had to become a more independent person eventually. After all, I was the kind of person who would ask her roommate if she could call a cab, because I was too afraid to talk to strangers on the phone.

Semester abroad in Portugal
Nervous before boarding my flight to Lisbon

I was 24 when I boarded my flight to Portugal. Just me and two suitcases. No friends, no help, no apartment, no profound language skills. I remember repetitively thinking “Why would you think you could move to a country all by yourself?!” on the plane.

Naturally, I got badly ripped off by my taxi driver, but I was glad to arrive at my hostel in Lisbon finally. I asked for directions to the nearest supermarket and felt nauseous when I left the hostel by myself. I felt followed, about to be pickpocketed, mugged, anything. I could feel people stare at me, I could hear their thoughts “look at that totally not-Portuguese lost blonde girl staring at a map over there”.

Of course, this walk to the supermarket was only 300 meters, in a super save area of town, and nothing happened to me. But it was the first time I walked somewhere by myself in a foreign country. And when I arrived back at the hostel with my soy milk, I felt like I had achieved something gold-medal-worthy — only to realize then that it was 8pm in the evening and I had no idea what I was supposed to do with myself. I had never stayed at a hostel before, I had no idea what common rooms were. I heard people in the kitchen, but I didn’t think I was allowed to go in there while other people were cooking. So I pretended to be tired and went to bed.

But then I gave myself a new task every day: Buy a metro ticket by yourself, find the university by yourself, find an apartment by yourself.

Semester abroad in Lisbon, Portugal
A little more confident taking selfies on my second day of my semester abroad

And by the end of the week, I had walked all over town by myself, found an apartment, made new friends in the hostel, sorted out all organizational things with my university. There were times I was scared. When I got lost in a less nice neighborhood in Lisbon for example, or when I was alone with a huge sweaty landlord on a backyard patio (he took my away my backpack and wanted me to have dinner with him, ugh, those kisses on the cheek). But I managed it all and I learned that I can do things by myself, even if they scare the heck out of me. Lisbon is the place where I learned to be alone — and be absolutely okay with it.

One encounter from those first days in Lisbon stuck with me though: An Australian girl traveling by herself. “How old are you?” was my first reaction as if traveling had anything to do with age. She was 25. Only one year older than me, the girl who had just learned how to buy soy milk by herself. “And you are traveling alone? Why?!”, I didn’t get it. I didn’t think it was possible. Especially as a girl. I thought this girl was rare and extraordinarily courageous.

After I came home from Portugal, my wanderlust had only grown and I started reading travel blogs. Suddenly, I read the stories of so many girls who were traveling by themselves. I had no idea solo travel was this common!

Still though, it never occurred to me that I should try it myself at first. Of course, I flew to places by myself. I read in a Starbucks in London by myself and I took the night bus to Paris by myself. But I always had a friend waiting for me somewhere. It was only last year that I dared to do more alone than that — like in Utrecht, where I visited the cathedral and a museum by myself.

Solo travel in Utrecht, The Netherlands
First solo travel experiences in Utrecht

Then, I challenged myself even further last summer and booked a trip to Paris by myself. Four days in the City of Love, all alone. However, I knew I could meet up with my friends Ashley, Edna, and Danielle, so I didn’t have to spend all the time by myself, but still — this was my first real (semi-)solo trip.

And again I learned: It’s actually a beautiful experience to get couscous to go in Paris and eat it sitting on the banks of the Seine, watching couples pose on the Pont des Arts. It’s a beautiful experience to walk through Place des Vosges at 7 am in the morning and have a proper French solo breakfast in the sun afterwards. It’s beautiful to stroll through museums and parks alone and to eat a salade de chèvre chaud outside a café shortly before a summer storm rolls in.

Solo breakfast in Paris
Breakfast for one in Paris 

I finally understood the advantages of solo travel: Do, see, eat whatever you like whenever you like. This solo trip to Paris was like discovering a new side of me: A side that actually prefers to drink coffee and go to museums alone.

After this solo trip to Paris, I did all of my sightseeing in Dublin by myself last year, and I truly enjoyed it. I hunted down coffee shops in Berlin by myself this spring and loved it. And I didn’t hesitate for a second to stroll around Madrid by myself this year and my solo café con leche was the favorite coffee I had on this trip.

Solo coffee in Madrid
Solo café con leche in Madrid

Then, when I stumbled upon a cheap flight to Vienna recently and there was no one to come with me, I knew I would also have a great time by myself.

But honestly though — I think my trip to Vienna and Bratislava was my last trip as a solo traveler. I get the advantages of traveling alone now, I know why people would prefer it, but I think it’s not for me when I weigh out the pros and cons:

Safety

This is always the very first thing coming to mind when discussing solo travel, especially as a girl. I wouldn’t dare to say this about any other continent, because I have no personal experience, but Europe is perfectly save for girls traveling alone. And personally, I feel safer alone than with a bigger group, because I can disappear into the crowds as a solo traveler. No one can hear that I’m a foreigner, because I don’t speak (loudly). When I have to look at a map, I do it discretely in a corner where not too many people see me and I try to memorize it so I can walk like I know my way around.

Those tourist groups suddenly stopping in the middle of a busy underground station discussing where to go next? They not only annoy the locals, but they also put their guards down.

I have to clarify though: When I talk about safety in Europe, I mostly refer to pickpocketing and men following you around, maybe shouting inappropriate things after you that make you feel unsafe. These are (luckily) the only things I experienced myself.

As a tourist in Europe you will always stand out and the pickpockets are usually extremely well trained in recognizing foreigners, but there are ways to make it less obvious: Wear a lot of black in Europe’s capitals, walk very self-confident and fast, carry a purse instead of a backpack (and please, no fanny packs!), keep your camera, map, and guide books in your purse most of the time, watch the locals and try to behave like them (e.g. read a novel on the subway, or wear heels (cobblestone alternative: wedges!) in Western Europe).

Just one recent example: This spring my mom was pickpocketed in Rome (on her 50th birthday!), because we let our guards down: We were traveling in a group of four, it was only shortly past 8am in the morning and the city was just waking up. We were in a bit of a hurry and rushing down a bigger street with traffic, and we didn’t see my mom’s little backpack had been open and her wallet was gone until we arrived in a more quiet street. If there was a checklist test with things to do wrong in Rome, we had scored an A: We were obviously a group of tourists with comfy tennis shoes, colorful backpacks, and shouting German at each other. We felt save because it was early in the morning. We didn’t think of watching our stuff because we were in a hurry.

Being a tourist in Rome
Being a tourist in Rome can be tricky sometimes

Lesson learned: When traveling in a group everyone assumes the other is watching out, but no one is really a 100% aware of the surroundings. We were a group of four and no one of us saw anything until it was way too late. As a solo traveler however, I’m absolutely hyper-aware of my surroundings and extremely watchful, because I don’t get distracted with things like discussing directions.

And one more thing regarding going out, because getting home after a night out is always an issue for solo girls. I’ve always walked home alone in Germany, even when I was a bit too tipsy. I had no issues walking home after a few cocktails in Lisbon’s Bairro Alto at night, but my walk home was only a 30 minutes walk, mostly along a street that was lit all night and had constant traffic. I walked back to the hostel in Dublin by myself, because Dublin on a Thursday night at 4am is crowded like Paris on a sunny Saturday.

Nights out in Dublin
Dusk in Dublin — walking home alone later was not a problem

I never had problems walking home alone, but I also wouldn’t want to risk it when I wasn’t absolutely sure it was absolutely okay to walk. Public transportation can also be scary at night, but on summer nights in Paris for example, it’s totally not a problem to take the metro in the city center at 1am. And I know that drunks sleeping in the metro hallways might seem scary, but they are harmless and I assume most of them would even help if a girl was in trouble. Personally, if I encountered a large group of wasted 17-year-old guys looking for a dare, that’s when I’d leave a underground station and hail a cab instead.

Meeting People

It is true what they say: Meeting people is easiest when traveling alone. As I was planning to explore Vienna by myself, but didn’t really want to be alone at night, I booked an 8-bed-dorm room in a backpacker hostel.

The first thing I saw when I walked into my dorm was a girl sitting on her bed blow-drying her phone. I asked if her phone was okay and we chatted about wifi reception and coffee houses in Vienna. She was a dentist from Melbourne and seemed really nice and since it was a Friday night I asked her if she had any plans. We ended about sipping white wine in a bar talking about travel and learning languages — and it was a great first night in Vienna.

Most people stay in hostels to hang out with others from time to time so by just asking simple questions — did you just get in? can you recommend the hostel breakfast? what was your favorite sight so far? do you know how the shower works? — conversations usually happen quickly and as traveling is most likely a mutual hobby, running out of topics is rare. I’ve also met people when traveling with other people, but never as many as when I was traveling by myself.

Eating Alone

From all the things you could possible do by yourself, for me, eating alone is the hardest thing. I hate eating alone. I can’t stand the sound of my own chewing. Even at home, I always need a TV or a computer to entertain me if I don’t have someone around to eat with me. That’s why eating is always the biggest challenge on solo trips for me.

I started practicing at home a bit though: Sitting in a coffee shop with a book was a good start. From drinking coffee alone I went to eating small meals like a soup, a panini or a bagel by myself. I learned to do this at home, so I have no problems doing the same abroad.

Solo lunch in Dublin
Solo soup and sandwich in Dublin

However, I still haven’t managed to eat inside a proper restaurant alone though. It feels like the world’s most depressing thing to me, because I feel watched and pitied and I never know where to look.

But I’ve come up with the solution of eating outside: When sitting right by a street, which is quite common in Europe, there’s always something going on and I don’t have to stare at my hands all the time. (Other people maybe like reading while eating, but I guess I’d spill even more food than usually then.)

Solo salad in Paris
Solo salad dining in Paris

In Vienna, I challenged myself by sitting outside in a rather fancy restaurant and eating a real lunch, including starters, a glass of wine and a coffee afterwards. I still didn’t really like the way the waiter looked at me (that might have been a Vienna thing though), but it was actually not as horrible as I thought it would be. To be honest though, the other meals I had in Vienna were more Asian-noodle-box-to-go-in-the-hostel-common-room-style. Partly because eating out in Vienna is crazy expensive, partly because I feel just way more comfortable when eating in company.

Solo lunch in Vienna Viennese lunch by myself

Photography

Traveling solo has one major advantage, and one major disadvantage when it comes to photography — and I still haven’t made up mind which predominates.

The advantage is that if you’re really passionate about photography, it’s so much easier to travel alone than with other people. My mom and sisters for example, they just don’t get how long it takes to get a great shot sometimes and it drives me crazy.

I can’t just take walk-by-snapshots. I have to stand still, I have to adjust my camera settings, I have to try different angles and perspectives. Sometimes I want to wait until the traffic light is red so I don’t have cars in my frame, sometimes I have to wait for someone to walk through that ray of sunlight.

I want to get up early to make use of the soft morning light, I don’t want to nap during Golden Hour, and I don’t want to see that park in the harsh noon light. I know, I sound high maintenance, but people who are into photography will understand. And when I travel solo, no one has to wait for me while I wait for the light to be right or the wind to untangle that flag again. I can take all the time I need to.

Photography in Berlin
I waited quite a while to get this flag puddle reflection shot in Berlin

On the other hand, when I travel solo, I usually never have photo proof of me being somewhere. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not overly obsessed with having my photo taken. But it’s nice to have a memory of myself at place, preferably one where I have my eyes open and don’t look fat (sorry for being girly). When sightseeing by myself though, I rarely have the guts to ask people to take my photo. So I photograph my feet, my coffees and my sunglasses instead. I like those images a lot, but sometimes I wish a had proof that my face traveled with me as well.

Solo travel in Vienna
Solo sunglasses in Vienna

Waiting

Have you ever thought about how much time you spent waiting for other people when traveling in a group? You wait for them to go to the bathroom. You wait for them to buy postcards. You wait for them to find an ATM, because they forgot to bring cash to dinner. You wait for them to make up their mind what to order while you’re so hungry you could chew off the table. You wait for them to ponder whether “that other restaurant we passed earlier looked way nicer and a bit cheaper though”. You wait for them to finally get out of bed while you’ve been ready to go exploring since 8am. You might not realize it at first, but basically you wait most of the time when traveling together with others.

The biggest freedom of solo travel is that you never have to wait for anyone. You can go to the bathroom, leave the hostel, and have a coffee whenever you want or need to. I’ve learned that I’m much faster with getting somewhere and finding places (especially on city breaks) when I’m by myself. I don’t usually make up my mind very quickly, but it’s the only mind I have to keep in mind to it saves me tons of time and nerves.

Being Weak

Most things listed above show that I do understand why people travel solo. Despite maybe dining alone and having only a few photos of myself abroad, I like traveling solo as well. But there are moments when I can’t keep up my new-found travel confidence.

Like currently, I have a bit of a painful heel infection and I just bought new shoes after my only pair of decent sneakers literally broke apart. Thus, my feet were full of blisters during my time in Vienna and Bratislava and my heel so hurt so bad sometimes that I could not bear standing for just a single stop on the subway.

After several hours of walking around the cobblestone streets of Bratislava I could not wait to finally take my train back to Vienna. I arrived fifteen minutes before the train was about to leave. The train was announced on the board, yet the platform was not. I stood underneath the board in pain, waiting for directions where to go next, but the train suddenly disappeared from the board and I was not on it.

Solo travel in Bratislava
Hurting feet in Bratislava

I waited in line at the info desk, but they rarely spoke any English there and no one could tell me what had happened to my train. I was lost in translation and my feet hurt so badly that I was about to throw up. I had to fight against my tears in the middle of that crowded station in Bratislava. And all I wanted was someone to say: “It’s okay, Julika, let me hold your freakishly heavy purse with the camera and go find a place to sit so you can rest your feet. I’ll figure out what happened to that train.” But I had to be strong for myself. Of course, this situation sounds ridiculous to anyone who has ever suffered from food poisoning alone in the middle of a jungle somewhere, but I was exhausted and I didn’t want to be alone at that moment.

Of course, it’s a good thing to learn to figure things out by yourself, but it’s nice if you don’t have to be strong all the time. On my 26th birthday in Bruges I had such a bad migraine that I couldn’t get up until noon. But I handed my guide book to my boyfriend and he planned our route and activities for the day.

Birthday in Bruges
Smiling on my birthday despite my horrible headache

I waited until my meds finally kicked in so I could at least walk slowly, and I followed Steffen around all day without touching a map once. It was so relieving to give up on my “vacation dictatorship” for once and just be weak for a change. And it’s the best if you have someone caring for you when you have a really shitty day.

Sharing

Sharing is the deciding point for me. The things I mentioned above are all debatable, and still see why people would prefer solo travel over traveling with others. But I really want to share the things I experience with others that care. I want to share beauty, funny things, and once-in-a-lifetime sunsets.

And I’m actually convinced that’s why most solo travelers have a blog. Humans are not made for being alone and keeping everything to themselves. They have to share. And I’m pretty sure even the bravest solo travel bloggers would feel crazy lonely if they couldn’t compensate sharing the things they experience through digitally sharing them with their readers and social media followers.

Summer nights in Hamburg
I‘m glad I didn’t have to experience this perfect summer night in Hamburg by myself

On my latest trip, I uploaded way too many photos on Instagram and I was sending photos to my friends, sisters and boyfriend whenever I had wifi. I wanted to share the beauty I encountered and the potential inside jokes that no one was laughing about with me. I wanted others to join me — even when only on the screen of my phone.

But I rather prefer having someone next to me than being glued to my phone all the time. There might be people out there who are islands, who are made for solo travel — but I don’t think it is for me.

Have you traveled solo? How did you experience it?

  • Kathi

    Ich finde ja, wir sollten mal zusammen irgendwohin. Eine neue Hauptstadt vielleicht. 😉
    Ich habe jedenfalls bei so ziemlich allem zustimmend genickt. Ich bin noch nie wirklich allein gereist, aber von den kurzen Zeitpunkten, die ich mal irgendwo allein war, kommt mir das alles sehr bekannt vor. Gerade jetzt ist es natürlich besonders aktuell. Ich war sooo stolz, als ich letzte Woche an meinem zweiten Tag hier allein zum ATM und zum Supermarkt gelaufen bin und weiß noch genau, wie unwohl ich mich dabei gefühlt habe. Oder wie ich vor meinem ersten Arbeitstag panisch war, weil ich nicht wusste, wie ich das Büro finden sollte…zu weit zu Fuß, mit Bus okay. Aber ich wusste ja nicht, wo ich aussteigen soll und mein Russisch ist einfach noch unzureichend… (Ein Hoch auf Mitbewohner, die einen einfach ins Taxi setzen und schon den Preis abmachen.)
    Aber vielleicht spamme ich dann mal lieber meinen eigenen Blog mit diesen Geschichten zu. Nur eins: Telefonieren ist wirklich böse! 😉

    • JulikaSarah

      Ach, wie schön von dir zu hören! 🙂 Ich finde du hast schon echt krasse Sachen allein gemacht, vor allem in Gebieten die gar nicht touristisch erschlossen sind — das ist nochmal eine ganz andere Herausforderung! Aber man schafft doch immer wesentlich mehr als man sich selbst am Anfang zutraut 🙂
      Ich bin auf jeden Fall bei neuen Hauptstadtreisen dabei — Istanbul liegt ja gerade für uns beide auf halber Strecke, oder? 😉

    • Kathi

      Haha, das ist aber wirklich ein guter Gedanke! Denn in Istanbul würde ich gerne einen Zwischenstopp einlegen, wenn ich wie geplant Ende März/Anfang April nach Deutschland komme. Das halten wir einfach mal fest, finde ich. 😀
      Im Kosovo war ich ja aber beispielsweise fast nie allein und da es hier und dort kein Urlaub war, fühle ich mich doch immer mehr abgesichert. 🙂

    • JulikaSarah

      Perfekt! 🙂 Vielleicht muss ich Steffen mitnehmen, aber wenn das kein Problem für dich ist, sehen wir uns dann im Frühjahr in Istanbul 🙂

    • Kathi

      Kein Problem. 😀

  • It was great to read this post… We love reading something honest like this 🙂
    We are travelling couple, so we’ve never been anywhere alone. We have no idea how it is to be a solo traveller. But it seems to be good!

    No matter if you travel in group or alone, all that matters is that you explore the world 🙂

    • JulikaSarah

      Thanks, so glad you liked it! Solo travel definitely has its advantages, but I love that you guys are traveling the world as a couple! 🙂

  • Great post! I loved reading it 🙂 I have traveled alone pretty extensively in India, but now that I met my bf and travel with him, I can really see the differences. It’s easier to meet people alone I think because I’m more apt to talk to a stranger and try to make friends. I also hate eating alone though, so it’s nice to have a friend!

    • JulikaSarah

      Thank you! It’s quite interesting to see how travel styles change when you travel alone or with a friend or with a boyfriend, right? And yes, eating alone is the worst! 🙂

    • Melissa Trinidad

      The only problem I have with eating alone is that I get fuller faster. Turns out that talking to someone breaks up the amount of time and food you shovel into your mouth.

  • zarzuelazen

    I got the perfect travelling companion for you Julika…myself. I will volunteer to travel with you any day:D

    • JulikaSarah

      Haha, great, I’ll let you know when I have a travel buddy vacancy 😉

  • Melissa Trinidad

    I travel alone because I have no one to go with. It’s as simple as that. If I found/find someone who I get along with and is willing, then great. I’ll do that.

    • JulikaSarah

      I love how pragmatic you are about this, Melissa!

  • Julika, my thoughts on this could probably match your article length 🙂 Kudos for your honesty. I’m a solo traveller most of the time and there are definitely ups and down – and you’ve captured them perfectly. What I would say is that the more you travel solo, the more the downsides thin. You get used to those things that make you worry or feel uncomfortable. But it’s important to find the balance between pushing your personal boundaries and forcing yourself too far past your comfort level to the point you have zero fun. I suspect you’ll take a solo trip again, just maybe not this year 🙂

    • JulikaSarah

      Thanks Jo! You’re definitely one of the people I look up to when it comes to solo travel and I will absolutely ask you for advice if I end up going on another solo trip 🙂

  • Cinderellas Travel Shoes

    Really good post! In my
    view it is always about pros & cons of traveling solo or with company. It
    is all about what you prefer during the trip. Sometimes it is OK to enjoy
    traveling alone, and sometimes absolutely not. Keep up your good
    writing, Julika J

    • JulikaSarah

      Thank you! I couldn’t have said it better 🙂

  • Megan Hogarth

    I know a lot of people wear the “solo female traveller” label like it’s a badge of honour and that seems to frustrate a lot of travellers that don’t enjoy that travelling alone. I’ve met a lot of people who feel the need to defend why they don’t like to travel by themselves, like they think solo travellers will judge them for wanting company. But here’s the thing – some of those solo female travellers absolutely love travelling alone. I’m one of them. I simply prefer travelling alone. If I was to write a “cons” list it would be very, very short. It is the thought of travelling with other people that strikes fear into my soul, and in fact, most of my experiences of travelling with another person have not gone well.

    I think some women feel pressured to try travelling solo at some stage, but there’s no reason anyone should travel in a way that makes them uncomfortable. If people want to travel alone, great. If they don’t, great.

    • JulikaSarah

      Thank you for your opinion, Megan! I never felt like I had to travel by myself, I was just intrigued by the idea and wanted to try it — but you’re right, it okay to not be a fan of solo travel and I don’t need to defend myself for that.

  • Rellerelle

    I loved this post. This is so accurate and one of the most accurate descriptions of solo travel I’ve read in a while. I used to do TEFL in South Korea. Traveling solo can be so much fun, but at times it had it’s downfall as well. Still my favorite way to travel, but it’s nothing like being with good friends while traveling too.

    • JulikaSarah

      Thank you! I totally get why you’d prefer solo travel — I could definitely see the advantages! 🙂

  • I’m glad that you got to have some good experiences traveling alone before ultimately deciding that it’s not really your thing 🙂 I’ve only gone on a solo trip once (to Rome), but I had a really fantastic time probably because I didn’t have to wait on other people to do things, I could eat gelato as much as I wanted, etc. Eating by yourself can be really daunting, so I brought 100 Years of Solitude with me and told myself it was ironic to read that while actually by yourself (it’s probably more sad than ironic, but at least it’s a great book!). I do agree on how you want to share all of the cool things you’re seeing with someone, and so that often ends up with phone attachment syndrome, which is not quite so cool. Thank you for your post, it gave me a lot to think about!

    • JulikaSarah

      Well, I might still change my mind in a few years, Maria — but for now, yeah, I’m not planning any more solo trips. Eating as much gelato as you want sounds like the perfect vacation though 🙂 Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!

  • Murissa

    I feel like we are the same in regards to solo travel experience – maybe you’re a bit more advanced than me. My first time traveling alone was to Dublin where I figured out how to eat alone in a restaurant. A good book, a note book and camera is essential when I am sitting indoors. If outside, like you said you want let your eyes wander.

    Italy, especially Rome, was a rip off for me and my boyfriend too! So many scammers around!

    • JulikaSarah

      I agree, reading really helps when eating alone, but I still think I prefer to have company 🙂

  • The thoughts you had before moving to Lisbon were my exact same thoughts moving to Germany. Why could I possibly do this? I have done one, 10 day solo trip and would not do it again, I just did not enjoy myself the way I do when traveling with friends or family. Granted, it was such an important lesson in pushing me out of my comfort zone, but the lonely feeling was hard and I think I experience that enough in my daily lives. I like a companion 🙂

    • JulikaSarah

      I agree with everything you said, Alex! It really is important to push yourself out of your comfort zone every once in a while, but you don’t necessarily have to like it 🙂

  • Tiago Santos

    Not a single word about me 🙁
    I’m sad 😛

  • Loki

    I love traveling alone. In fact, it is my favorite thing to do. I love my husband and the rest of my family and friends but when I am travelling, I prefer to do it alone. I am never tied to my phone, as in most places, my phone does not even work. I do not feel any more afraid in foreign places than I do at home. Maybe it is because I have lived in or near NYC for much of my life. As far as men saying harassing things to me, that happens no matter where you go. Should a woman sit in her home for fear of what some random man might say from across the street or sidewalk or hallway or desk for that matter? I also don’t mind eating alone. I don’t have to talk and can take as much time as I like to enjoy my meal. In restaurants as in most other venues, if you are having the time of your life, enjoying yourself and your travels and experiences, no one will pity you, in fact they will think you are quite fabulous.

    • JulikaSarah

      Thanks for this interesting comment! I find it admirable that you have no issues with eating alone, I’m still working on that! 🙂

  • Lizzi Michael

    Ah, I love this, just stumbled across it whilst looking up solo travel tips for Vienna. I’m an accidental solo traveller – I find it too difficult to organise trips with friends, so I’ve just started embracing the joy of travelling alone. And yes, I post too much on Instagram…and yes, I have a blog!

    • JulikaSarah

      Thank you Lizzi! Vienna is actually a very easy city for solo travel — very safe, great infrastructure! I’m sure you’ll have a great time traveling solo there! 🙂

  • susana quadros

    Absolutely loved this post. I am living every bit of your description about moving to Portugal. What makes it an even greater adventure is that I’m not even European so its a totally different culture and I am loving every bit of it 🙂

    • JulikaSarah

      Thanks so much Susana! Hope you’ll have an amazing time in Europe!

  • Ariana del Rio

    I like how you tell both sides. I just took my first Real Solo Trip in September, and I loved it so much that 2 weeks turned into 1 month in Mexico. But, there are often moments you want someone to share a laugh, a story, a thought with. I made many friends throughout that month of solo travel, but I’m not a full time Solo Traveler. I just moved to spain, and I already have visitors coming in Spring. 🙂 I like your honesty though.

  • Some guy

    Just dropping by to say that you’re really really beautiful