5 Things I Noticed On My First Solo Trip
It was my birthday last week.
I’ve always celebrated my birthday in some way but the last time I recall having an actual birthday party was when I was 9. I planned it all by myself, had about 7 guests and a gourmet menu of jelly and soda. I’m not sure what activities I planned, but I remember having a fantastic time and patting myself on the back for an event very well executed.
So you probably understand why for over a year, my plan was to have a super duper extravagant, over the top 30th birthday party. It was going to be in the garden at home. There’d be a marquee, a live band, a photographer, a videographer, a DJ, Ijeshop would do the food, all the works. My face would be beat for the Most High and I would be surrounded by friends and family who had flown in from various destinations. The party would be lit, and I would be overwhelmed and humbled by how much I am loved.
A few months ago the idea completely lost its appeal. So I decided to take a trip to Italy instead. The unique thing about this trip though was that I was going to go by myself. My first solo trip ever! Oh. Em. Gee.
It was a great decision and in this post I share five things I observed about riding solo in a different country.
1. I got approached more often
On this trip I got way more attention than I typically do when I go away. Literally every corner I turned, I got a:
- Wow, nice hair! (This one was top of the list so it’s safe to say the average Italian man likes short blonde hair).
- Ciao! Where are you from?
- Ciao! You from California/Africa/New York?
- Nice hair, you should be my guest (I’m not sure what he wanted me to be a guest of)
And not just from men, from women too:
- I love your dress, it’s so adorable!
- Bella! Belllaa! Bellissimo! (After I figured she wasn't actually yelling for someone called Bella, I blushed and said thank you).
PS: Bella means "beautiful" in Italian
I think all things being equal (i.e. you don’t have a stank face, etc), people find it easier to speak to you when you’re by yourself as opposed to when you’re in a group.
2. It’s (usually) okay to ask strangers to take photos of you
My biggest concern about travelling alone was that I would give someone my phone to take a photo of me and they’d run off with it. I know, I know - priorities.
I eventually faced my fears and guess what, my phone is safe and sound! Is God not good? I even went as far as giving people directions (please tilt the phone so you get the sky, please try it from this angle, etc).
Maybe on my next solo trip, I’ll graduate to asking people to do videos of me. Or just get a tripod.
3. I had to be mindful of what information I gave away
Alot of people were friendly, which meant they asked a lot of questions. I had to make a mental effort not to give out too much detail about myself while engaging others in conversation. For instance if someone asked where I was staying, I’d give them the general area as opposed to the specific hotel name. If I didn’t feel like engaging, I’d smile and say very firmly - “I’m good, thank you.” and then look or walk away. I wasn't looking to end up in a Taken type situation you feel me?
4. I had to be extra vigilant
On the first night of my trip, I gave my taxi driver 2 €50 notes to pay a €55 cab fare. I had just been to the ATM, and all the notes I got back were €50’s. I looked away for a bit and in my peripheral vision thought I saw him fumbling with the notes. When I looked back he had swapped one of the €50’s for a €10 note (they’re the same colour so it’s very easy to get them mixed).
When you’re by yourself, you’re a much easier target for scams so it’s crucial to pay close attention to your surroundings. I made sure my bag was always zipped up, didn’t have my nose stuck in my phone while I was outdoors, avoided dark alleyways at night - you know, common sense stuff.
5. I found it a lot easier to do just what I felt like doing
There was only one opinion (mine) to take into consideration when planning activities so if I wanted to sleep in, I did. When I took the hop on, hop off bus and didn’t feel like hopping off throughout the entire ride, it was fine. When I felt like taking time out to chill and pray, I did just that. It was great to be able to adjust my plans on the fly without having to check with anyone.
I haven’t sworn off group travel forever, but I thoroughly enjoyed travelling solo and would like to do it again soon.Have you ever travelled solo? If yes, do any of the above observations ring true for you as well? If not, would you ever try it out?
Thank you for reading!
Fun and Sun,