8 Things I Learnt on My First Solo Trip

I’m writing this blog post to you from above the clouds. I have just left Austria after a 5 day solo trip through Graz, Salzburg and Innsbruck. Each city was totally unique and I can’t wait to tell you about the whole experience (more blog posts to come). Some of you may already know that I was quite apprehensive about taking a solo trip. So much so that I nearly turned down the opportunity all together. It sort of pains me to admit that but it’s true. So I am sitting on this plane with a slight sense of pride that I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone and try something new.

So when I look back on this week in years to come, the thing that will be the most memorable is that it was the first solo trip I ever took. As a way to reflect on the experience I have just had, I’m going to share some personal things I learnt on my first solo trip.

the-travelista-blog-jess-gibson-austria-innsbruck

  1. That I was able to observe so much more

When I travel as a pair or in a group, there is always constant conversation. It’s either easy-flowing chit-chat with someone I know well, or it’s getting-to-know-you chat with people I have just met. In Austria it was different. Instead of being engrossed in a conversation with someone, I was able to look around me. I observed things. I people-watched. I absorbed every element of the places I was in. In short, I gave my undivided attention to places instead of people.

  1. That I got talking to lots more locals and other tourists

It seems that as a solo traveller you are immediately more approachable than travellers in a group. This week I have had interesting conversations with taxi drivers, waiters, receptionists and fellow tourists. People seem to want to know your story when you’re travelling alone, and as a Travel Blogger I suppose I have quite an interesting story to tell. I would have been much less likely to get talking to those people if I was already in company. By chatting to these people on my journey, I didn’t feel alone at all.

  1. That I could be totally selfish

This week I was able to be totally selfish, in a good way. I decided what time I woke up, what my plan was for the day and where to eat. If my feet hurt from walking, I just stopped and sat for a while. I followed my nose and allowed myself to get lost. I didn’t have to compromise or try to please anyone else. This felt amazing but I can imagine for someone with a lot of restrictions and responsibilities in their life, it would probably feel even more amazing.

  1. That I felt really relaxed

One thing I hate in life is rushing and feeling rushed by others. When I am travelling in a big group, I can sometimes feel stressed about not being able to keep up with a group or stick to an itinerary (probably because I want to be off taking endless photos somewhere). I felt incredibly relaxed during my week in Austria and although I was constantly out and about exploring, there was no stress.

  1. That I was more productive compared to other trips

I wanted to document the whole experience on social media and make it feel like my audience was right there with me. Because I was alone, I was able to really focus on documenting my trip, particularly on Instagram stories. The quality of my real time content was definitely much better as a result of being alone. I also had all the time in the world to focus on photography and I even had time in the evenings to answer my emails. As a result of being on my own, I was much more productive.

  1. That getting photos of me was more of a challenge

Although I had all the time I needed to take photos, it was definitely more of a challenge getting photos with me in them. One of the reasons I was apprehensive about doing a solo blogging trip was because I was worried I wouldn’t get enough good content. I like to feature in some of my photos and I always have a very specific vision of how I want those photos to be shot. So even if I ask someone on the street to take a quick photo of me, it’s unlikely it will match my vision. I sort of knew that would happen so I brought a flexible tripod with me, which can attach to anything (trees, lampposts, you name it). My DMC G6 Panasonic Lumix also has a function where I can control the shutter from my phone, so I was able to get a few shots (like the one at the top of this post).

  1. That dining alone is actually quite nice

I think eating alone is one of the main things that may put people off solo travel. I have never had a problem with sitting in cafes and restaurants on my own (I work from cafes all the time), so this wasn’t such a biggie for me. It was even a less of a biggie in Austria because I was in a new environment and didn’t know anyone around me. So why should I care what they think? Enjoying an amazing meal on your own with a glass of wine feels like an even greater indulgence than sharing it with friends. Plus if you’re in a scenic spot, you can really soak up the surroundings.

  1. That it’s an even greater sense of freedom than travelling in company

People love to travel for the adventure, the freedom and the escapism from daily life. Travelling alone allowed me to feel an even greater sense of freedom that I am used to, which was the most unexpected part of this whole solo trip experience. I can’t pretend I didn’t wish my boyfriend was there with me when I reached the top of the Nordkette mountain or watched the pink sunset over Salzburg, but these are now my own unique memories. With nobody else to please and with time on my side, it was probably the closest I have come to being without a care in the world.

If you’re thinking of planning a solo trip but have apprehensions like I did, I hope this blog post inspires you to take the leap!

What did you think of my first solo trip reflections? Do you love to take solo trips or is it something you would like to experience? I would love to hear your thoughts on solo travel so please leave me a comment in the box below! Jess x  

My trip to Austria was part of the #UncoverAustria campaign with Visit Austria

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22 Comments

  1. 13th July 2017 / 11:18 am

    I have my first solo trip next weekend and I’m really excited to be able to solely focus on my photography without someone waiting for me to get the perfect shot! This was really reassuring to read 🙂

  2. My Feet Will Lead Me
    12th July 2017 / 2:49 pm

    Jess! I’m so glad you got the opportunity to do this! I started solo traveling not by choice but by obligation after my husband died from cancer a few years ago. I personally chose to travel alone because I was so miserable and lonely, I felt like I needed the time alone. But I also had been with my husband since we were 19 years old and I wanted to develop a sense of independence and strength on my own. It’s one of the most freeing things I’ve ever done. Now, a few years later and with a new partner, I still make it a point to try to travel by myself at least once per year. I genuinely believe it’s good for my soul and I get to know myself better. Occasionally I do a small group travel with intrepid or something like that, especially if I’m going somewhere in the Middle East where it makes me feel safer. Plus it’s a blast to make a bunch of new friends. But last year, for example, I went to the Bahamas and swam with the pigs by myself and went to Disney World by myself. It was my funnest Disney trip of my life, and I hope I can do it again someday. It was like I was a child all over again and I didn’t have to worry about anyone else’s agenda. I even ordered a Starbucks coffee and gave them my name as Minnie And every single one of your eight points you made our spot on! Tripods are a necessity.

  3. 28th June 2017 / 1:34 am

    I travel solo whenever and however I can! 😀 Great post – you’ve summed the feeling up quite nicely.

  4. 23rd June 2017 / 9:48 am

    LOVE this post lady – I’m ALL about solo travel, completely agree that it’s so relaxing and it’s so nice to be on your on schedule and be totally selfish! I also really enjoy dining alone, I take a book and really enjoy some downtime! In New York I went to the theatre and cinema alone and loved it!

    Hayley xo
    http://www.frockmeimfamous.com

    • Jessica
      23rd June 2017 / 10:50 am

      Hey lovely! So glad you’re on the solo travel bandwagon. You’ve done way more than me. Your Trek America trip looked so amazing and I think I would have the confidence to do one of them on my own now so think that may be my next solo adventure, although you’re not really alone at all are you as you’re in a big group! xx

  5. 22nd June 2017 / 6:26 am

    This was one of the best holidays. We just come from an enjoyable trip of solo. The guide was well conversant and helpful…

    • Jessica
      23rd June 2017 / 10:51 am

      Great to hear it! Guided tours are perfect when you’re travelling solo. I am doing another one in Bilbao, Spain this weekend 🙂

  6. Nicola
    21st June 2017 / 9:36 pm

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve always been a bit apprehensive about doing a solo trip somewhere but this post has made me feel a bit more persuaded that it’s a good idea. I think I always feel quite vulnerable when I’m on my own but somewhere like Austria feels really safe so wouldn’t be a problem.

    • Jessica
      23rd June 2017 / 10:53 am

      Thanks for commenting Nicola! You sound exactly like me before I did this trip. I was nervous and actually wasn’t really looking forward to it but I was so amazed by how much I loved and now I can’t wait to do my next one. Even if you do it and don’t enjoy it, what’s the harm in trying? Austria did feel very safe so it was actually a great place to try the solo experience out.

  7. 21st June 2017 / 5:47 pm

    Good for you! I think everything should take a solo trip at least once. You get out of your comfort zone and realize a lot of things about yourself. I think they’re great because you definitely grow a little bit after them. The scary part is the thought of leaving but once you get there you realize it’s not bad at all.

    • Jessica
      23rd June 2017 / 10:55 am

      Thank you Ashleigh! I agree, it’s such a great experience even if you only do it once and decide maybe it’s not for you. But I can imagine most people would come home wanting to do more! I definitely grew a little after mine and learnt more about myself. The thought is scarier than the reality. x

  8. Sandy
    21st June 2017 / 4:15 pm

    What a timely post. We are leaving for Austria in 5 days. Staying with friends for the first week and then venturing off on our own, just my 17 year old and myself. Traveling empowers you! Not sure where we are headed yet. This is a first since I’ve had children in tow. I used to always just wing it when I arrived at a destination but traveling with 2 children made me feel like I had to have a more concrete plan. I have not traveled out of the country solo but after returning from a 3 month long South Pacific adventure with one other I felt that I could go around the world solo! I love your blog and I’m looking forward to more on your Austria trip.

    • Jessica
      23rd June 2017 / 11:04 am

      Hi Sandy! Sounds like you’re going to have a fantastic time in Austria, I am only sorry I didn’t get my Austria travel posts up sooner so I could share some tips with you. Travel definitely does empower you and you always learn something new by either going alone or with a combination of different people. Your South Pacific adventure sounds epic! So glad you enjoy my blog, please stay tuned for my posts on Graz, Innsbruck and Salzburg.

    • Jessica
      23rd June 2017 / 11:04 am

      I would definitely do it again Emma! In fact I am doing another solo trip this weekend to Bilbao 🙂

  9. 21st June 2017 / 1:29 pm

    Love this post. What tripod did you use? As a blogger as well, taking photos alone is a pain because like you stated, we know what we want. Sadly, the nice person that takes the pic has no clue even if we explain it lol.

    Thanks for sharing these reflections.

    • Jessica
      23rd June 2017 / 11:10 am

      So glad you loved this post! Thank you! I used a portable Gorilla pod which has x3 flexible legs which you can attach to trees / railings to get a good shot. It fits in your bag so really easy to carry around. So true that the nice person taking your photo won’t get the shot you want!
      Here’s a link to the Gorrilapod from John Lewis: http://fave.co/2sXQ542 xx

  10. 21st June 2017 / 12:47 pm

    I’ve always loved travelling solo too! It’s nice to mix it up from time to time. The bit I find hardest is eating alone. There’s something about eating a great meal and not being able to share it with someone (and steal food off their plate too!) but I totally agree about being more productive, talking to more people and absorbing things! Loved following your trip – I was reminiscing too!

    • Jessica
      23rd June 2017 / 11:11 am

      Thanks Chloe! So glad you can relate to my reflective points. I didn’t struggle too much in the eating alone bit but I definitely wouldn’t have ordered a 3 course meal. I was sort of in and out at all the restaurants I ate at but I still really enjoyed the food and the quiet time to relax. xx

  11. LuxeStyle
    21st June 2017 / 12:34 pm

    I don’t think solo travel is something I will do but I can see the appeal of it. It must be really nice to do what you want to do when you want to do it x

    LuxeStyle

    • Jessica
      23rd June 2017 / 11:06 am

      It was a really great feeling and not one that I was used to! A great sense of freedom and stepping out of your comfort zone. It’s not for everyone but definitely something to consider doing once 🙂