posted by Guest blogger - Janice Waugh | 2 Comments
Our latest guest blogger is Janice Waugh author of The Solo Traveler’s Handbook publisher of Solo Traveler, the blog for those who travel alone. She is also moderator of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook which has over 4,000 members. She has been quoted in many media outlets including the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, LA Times and USA Today.
I love hostels. My first experience with them was when I was 15 as I cycled through the UK for a month. My latest was in Chile. I shan’t say how many decades have transpired in between, but each has included travel and hostels.
My preferred travel style is solo. And, as the publisher of Solo Traveler, I am very aware that people have a variety of concerns about travelling on their own. They tell me so via email, on the blog and on Facebook. But I can tell you, these concerns are wiped away by hostels.
Here, in order of importance, are the five most common reasons that people tell me they don’t like to travel solo and how hostels make it all ok.
1. Travelling alone doesn't feel as safe
How hostels make it OK: By staying in a hostel you're never alone
We're raised with the understanding that there is safety in numbers. Logically then, solo travel must not be safe. Well, this is just not the case. By the time you’re in your twenties, you have the experience to assess situations quickly and make sound decisions as you travel solo. But, the fact is, even though you are travelling alone, you needn’t be alone. At hostels you meet people and pick up friendships and travel partners for a day or a week. They are also safe havens for travellers where information from those with experience is available.
2. Dining alone is awkward
How hostels make it OK: Eating alone in hostels is a great way to meet new people
Yes, eating alone is actually the second greatest fear that people express to me about travelling alone. It’s not about feeling lonely, it’s about looking lonely. They don’t want to look pathetic. Again, this is where hostels work out well. Communal kitchens and tables (some even have restaurants) and the fact that solo travellers are commonplace. This makes the ‘dining alone issue’ a non-issue.
3. The 'single supplement' makes the cost of solo travel prohibitive
How hostels make it OK: Travelling on your own and staying in hostels can save you money
People who travel on their own on tours, cruises and 'all-inclusives' are often hit with a 'single supplement'. This is a hefty fee charged because travel companies set their rates to sell to two people. However, hostels don't work that way. With dorms and the options of single rooms, you are flexible to get the accommodation you want.
4. Travelling alone is lonely
How hostels make it OK: Thanks to common areas, you're bound to meet people in hostels
One would expect solo travel to be lonely. And, on occasion, it is. But when you use hostels for your accommodation, eat at their restaurants and hang out in the common rooms, it’s easy to meet someone for an hour-long chat or possibly to plan the next day’s outing with. Hostels are, by their very nature, social. It’s your choice to be connecting with others or spending time on your own.
5. There’s no one to share experiences with when I travel solo
How hostels make it OK: Why not share the experiences with somebody new?
This, I think, is the most difficult thing about solo travel yet it is never raised by the people who contact me. I remember coming out of seeing a play in New York City and being so dazzled by the production that I was desperate to talk about it. I did a 360, looking for someone I could approach, but found no one. So, yes, on occasion this is very difficult. But… there are occasions when you meet people who have knowledge, passion, talent… that enhance an experience. People that you would not have access to if you did not travel solo. These are the type of extraordinary people you can meet at hostels.
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