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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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