Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Solo Travelling

Travelling alone has a certain stigma around it. When you tell people that you are going on holiday alone you get the same reaction. Shock that you're going on holiday alone and many a mention of how brave you are. The lady I was sat next to on the airplane even asked if I didn't have any friends! It really shouldn't be the case. I'm far from brave just because I'm ok with spending time with myself!

I'm writing this in the departure lounge of Newark Liberty International Airport waiting to go home after a very successful solo holiday to New York City. During this trip I did things many people say they would never do alone, I attended Broadway shows, I went to a concert, I even ate in restaurants alone. People don't even do these things alone at home let alone on holiday and honestly I don't get the problem. 

You call all the shots. If you decide to go visit an attraction such as an art gallery you have no one moaning that they don't want to go, you can spend as long or as little time as you wish looking at the exhibitions with no one rushing you on. Isn't that the dream holiday? I know on this holiday in particular I attended Broadway shows that I wanted to see, no compromises happened. I decided what I wanted to go and see and when I wanted to see it and I bought a ticket without any worries that my companion wouldn't want to attend. Not every holiday will require you to get tickets to an event but I found that an advantage of going alone is you will tend to find good individual seats are available at the front even if you book very last minute. 

I ended up attending a concert alone this trip too. For one I don't think anyone I travelled with would be keen to go to a concert whilst in New York and I don't know if I would've got a ticket in the first place if I was with someone else. I didn't feel alone at the concert, I was talking to people about our favourite bands and songs and once the band were on stage it was very easy to forget I was alone. Who talks to someone when the artist is on stage performing anyway? This isn't the first time that I have actually attended a concert by myself and I wouldn't hesitate in doing it again. The big advantage of a concert is that you have something very big in common with the other people at the venue, you're all there to see the same performer. If you want to stand at the back by yourself you can but I find if you want to talk to people you have the concert artist in common to talk about.

For me the big issue with solo travelling was food. I have actually only ever gone to New York alone so this may not apply to other places. As well as tourists, New York is full of single business travellers. Due to this many restaurants cater for people alone with many restaurants suggesting that you sit at the bar and have your food there. Eating alone isn't as bad as you picture it being, particularly when you're surrounded by other people eating alone. I know the first time I went to New York alone I ate pretty much all my food from fast food takeout restaurants. This time I decided I wasn't doing this. You quickly realise the only person missing out on eating nice food at good restaurants is yourself. Do you really want to come back and tell people you only ate at McDonalds because you didn't dare go into a restaurant to eat by yourself? Plus you end up missing out on all the delicious food that is on offer.

Personally when it came to New York sightseeing I really enjoyed going solo. I put my headphones in and just walked. No one bothers stopping you to ask if you want a bus tour or other tourist attractions. You can just walk to wherever you want to, you can stop and look in whatever shops you want to look at, you can stop for a drink at a coffee shop that you like the look of, who doesn't want to do that on holiday? 

People don't think that you're at all odd in going alone. No one would even know that you're alone. I believe that the only thing that holds you back from solo travelling is yourself. Once you get through that barrier you'll have up full of all the worries about travelling alone you'll realise it isn't half as bad as you imagined it to be. 

I'd be lying if I said it's better than travelling with a companion. I wouldn't chose to go on holiday alone unless I had to. New York is a city I feel very comfortable in having visited many times, however if I want to visit a place I'd never been and none of my friends wanted to go or could afford to go then I wouldn't hesitate considering going alone. If you aren't sure about going on holiday alone or even just attending a concert alone, just do it. I can one hundred percent guarantee that it won't be as you expect it to be. If you go in with the attitude that it's odd to be alone then you won't have a good time, but if you go in with an open mind I can assure you'll have just as good of a time as if you had a travel companion with you.

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