A while ago I wrote a sort of ‘FAQ’ of what people ask me when they discover I’m a K-Pop fan [x] so I thought it’d be fun to write a similar one for when people find out I’m going somewhere by myself. I’m sure most solo travellers can relate.
“Won’t you get lonely?”
This is probably the top thing that people ask me and the simple answer is no, probably not. I’m quite used to spending time by myself and truthfully I feel lonelier when I’m in the company of the wrong people rather than by myself. I’m a bit of an introvert so the interactions with people who sell attraction tickets, food, souvenirs etc. is usually more than enough for me. If I do particularly want to talk to someone I can get in touch with my friends and family, I’m not completely cut off from the rest of the world.
If I’m going out for food then a book is more than enough company for me. If I’m travelling abroad I’m normally far too busy throughout the day to begin to feel lonely. In the evenings when I get back to my hotel I’m fine to just chill by myself, I don’t particularly need anybody else’s company. In fact it’s often quite nice to get away from people for a few days.
In the rare occasions I have felt lonely it’s fleeting and normally caused by something else. I usually feel quite lonely in the moments between the airport and checking into the hotel because I’m worried about not being able to find it and I would wish there was someone there to help me. Other than that, I’m normally fine!
“There’s safety in numbers!”
This is something my Dad said the first time I told him I was going abroad by myself. I suppose it’s true to an extent because although my Mom keeps in touch with me regularly it could be hours before she finally twigged that something had happened to me (although nothing has as of yet, fingers crossed!). But equally I’ve been in dodgy situations with my friends – probably more than I have by myself.
Ultimately, the case I argue is that, if we apply this logic to every situation then I am in danger just walking to work in the morning. Popping to the shop. Weirdly, my Dad’s quite chill about me visiting London but the moment I have to get on a plane he hits the roof. London’s just as dangerous as any other city, probably more so with everything I’ve been hearing about the place lately. I’m not an idiot, I do take safety precautions but you have to accept there is risk no matter where you are.
“Aren’t you nervous?”
For a trip to London or anywhere around the UK no, not really. Going abroad, yeah sure, I do get nervous. I’m a nervous flyer and going to countries where the spoken language isn’t English does give me anxiety. It won’t stop me from going though.
I usually find that all I need is to spend the first night in my hotel and then by the next day I’m all good. I still get nervous when doing stuff like ordering food, asking for tickets to attractions etc. but like you just push through it for the sake of having a good time. I never look back at a trip and think ‘oh God I was so nervous the whole time, it was horrendous’ I always leave having had an amazing time.
“I could never do that.”
I get this phrase a lot and most of the time it doesn’t bother me. If I’m talking about a solo trip abroad or even to London at a push then sure, fair enough. But when I tell my colleagues my after work plans are a trip to Wetherspoons by myself for dinner and they respond with this I sort of wonder like… How they live? If you’ve nipped out to do some shopping by yourself and you get hungry, do you not like… Go and get food? By yourself?
During a recent conversation with my friends they revealed they can’t even go to Shrewsbury (which is a short train journey away from our home town) by themselves and had a laugh about it and questioned how I can do things alone. It’s weird how they don’t understand yet I can’t understand how they can bare not being able to do something as simple as that on their own.
I’m someone who actually really values their alone time like every couple of weeks I love going out by myself to have dinner and then going to watch a movie. I know it’s literally none of my business but it does stress me out when people are like “OOOOOOH HOW DO YOU DO THAT!?” like sis, how do you not?
“You’re so brave!”
I’ve never particularly thought of it as being brave. It’s just part of life. We can’t be with people 24/7, we all have times where we’re on our own – why is it different if I spent that time alone in Romania rather than here in the UK? I know people mean this as a compliment but truthfully it just freaks me out. When every single person says it when you tell them your plans it gets in your head and you start wondering if you are putting yourself in danger. Well, that’s how I find it anyway.
“Did you hear a tourist got stabbed whilst in ‘country I’m visiting’?”
This really winds me up because crime happens in literally every part of the world. Nowhere is a crime free zone. People are stabbed or killed in my home town, why would I stress about it anymore than usual when visiting a different part of the world? Especially since often the story involves the tourist going back to a stranger’s house – something I have never and doubt I will ever do.
Similarly a couple of weeks before we went to Japan I was met with comments from colleagues and family of “Ooh have you seen there’s a typhoon there at the moment, you’d best be careful!” People were getting stressed a full two weeks before I was due to travel. Maybe it’s a British thing to be fair as our weather is normally quite mild so just the thought of a typhoon makes us freak out. But believe it or not Japan have typhoons regularly and know how to deal with them. Whilst in Japan we had a typhoon and it was interesting because all the foreign news outlets were like “THIS TYPHOON HAS DEVESTATED JAPAN” whereas Japan were like “It happened, time to move on now”.
I’m sure people mean well when they warn me about murdered tourists and potential holiday-ruining weather but honestly it just winds me up. It gets me all stressed out completely unnecessarily.
“What made you pick that country? It’s not somewhere I’d like to visit.”
Probably the best thing about humanity is that we’re all individuals and all like different things. I don’t understand how you can survive on just a yearly two-week long holiday to Spain year after year Belinda but I don’t question it as that’s your choice.
I’m being a bit harsh, some people ask because they’re genuinely curious and don’t mock your answers. My Dad asks because he’s a bit racist and can’t understand why I’d want to visit countries like Poland and Romania. He makes comments about places I’m visiting when he himself has never set foot in them. Really winds me up. He made so many comments about Poland and I found the people there were some of the nicest I’ve ever met.
I got that a lot with Japan, especially from old people “Why Japan? Why do you want to go there?” My explanations of the culture being very different to the UK simply didn’t satisfy their questions. I don’t know! I just wanted to go to bloody Japan! I’ve wanted to go for years! And then when you’re done explaining and they’re like “Nah, it’s not the type of place I’d like to go.” Okay, so don’t go? I’m not asking you to change your mind, I’m just explaining why I’d like to go.
Again, I am being a bit harsh, when most people say stuff like this it doesn’t bother me too much. But some people do really irritate me with their questions. My Dad and my Nan (on my Dad’s side) are both guilty of this.
“If I was your age I’d probably do the same.”
I’m 22 and although I’ve travelled around the UK solo since I was 18 I’ve only began abroad travelling at the age of 21. But I don’t see why my age should be a factor.
Okay, sure, some people older than me do have things to think about that I wouldn’t. For example childcare, they can’t just get up and go somewhere as they please. But those who don’t have children or whose children have grown up now – why don’t you just go? Nothing winds me up more than when someone says “I really wanna go to this place but no one wants to come with me” THEN JUST GO ON YOUR OWN IF YOU REALLY WANT TO GO THERE! I’ve said it before but like fair enough if you don’t want to get on a plane and go off by yourself, I can see why. But just going to London or something, even if it’s just for the day, shouldn’t be that difficult.
This especially gets me when older people are like “I’ve always wanted to visit [country]”. I feel like asking why they haven’t. I’d always wanted to visit Japan and the moment I had enough money I went. What’s the point in wasting time? If you like the look of somewhere and have been thinking about it for a while then get up and go.
I can see why some people can’t which will lead me into my next frequently asked question…
“How can you afford all these trips?”
I suppose other than the loneliness question this is the top question I get asked. The main factor is that like most of my friends I still live with my parents. I buy all my own stuff and pay my parents rent but it’s still significantly cheaper than if I moved out – which is why I’m currently in no hurry to get my own place even though it would mean getting away from my dickhead step-dad.
Secondly, I work. Like an awful lot. My main job is Monday – Friday 9 – 5 and now that I’m no longer an apprentice I earn a decent amount. Nothing annoys me more than when people moan about how much I earn – I suffered for a year on £3.50 an hour to earn what I earn now and it’s not tons as I’m still only admin. On top of that job I’m also a care worker – I do casual work for an agency but also get paid for looking after my older brother with learning difficulties so I pick up any extra shifts that I can.
Thirdly, I know how to get good deals on flights and hotels. When I went to Poland it cost me £30 for flights and around £18 for a hostel. The main factor was spending money and I took about £150. It was a relatively cheap holiday. Sure not everywhere is so cheap but as I’m not fussy about where I will and won’t go I can get some good deals. I know what I’m looking for and what I’m doing.
Finally, I prioritise travelling so of course I can afford it. I’m not fussed about having expensive, designer clothes or shoes, I don’t wear make-up etc. I prioritise spending my money on flights, hotels and spending money for trips. I can afford it because I want to afford it.
So there we have it, I think that pretty much covers the frequently asked questions – other than the obvious like “ooh where are you going” “what time’s your flight” but those are destination specific questions. If there’s any questions/things people say to you when you tell them you’re travelling then feel free to leave a comment!