Over breakfast in Ireland the other morning, two seasoned Irish women struck up a conversation with my husband and me. One asked why we were in Ireland, to which I responded that I had traveled alone several years ago in the country and brought back my husband this time for a jaunt. She mumbled something about traveling alone, and how it isn’t something you could do now because the world is dangerous. In an attempt to avoid a scene in the breakfast room, I gritted my teeth and kept my thoughts about how wrong she was about solo travel to myself.

Henry David Thoreau famously penned:[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait til that other is ready.[/pullquote]

These words ring true for the solo traveler and my experiences traveling alone. I could have waited for someone to join me, but instead, I went when I was ready. On several solo trips, namely, one that took me across Ireland for a month, I lived and learned about traveling solo, making mistakes along the way. If I could do it all over again, I would still set out on my own, but avoid some of these mishaps.

These words ring true for the solo traveler and my experiences traveling alone. I could have waited for someone to join me, but instead, I went when I was ready. On several solo trips, namely, one that took me across Ireland for a month, I lived and learned about traveling solo, making mistakes along the way.

If I could do it all over again, I would still set out on my own, but avoid some of these mishaps.

Staying in Quiet Towns

Especially in the case of my solo travels in Ireland, I made the mistake of staying in too many quiet towns. Everyone who has traveled solo will tell you, it is a social experience, because, after all, it can be quite isolating if you don’t have opportunities to interact with others.  My favorite experiences traveling alone always involved more lively places where I actually had people to interact with and attractions to see.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]If you are making the trip alone, don’t book too many nights in towns where you might be the only person around.[/pullquote]

Never Eating at the Bar

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During many of my solo travels, I would try to eat early to avoid being stared at because I was  alone. I would dine in empty restaurants, feasting on early bird specials. When I did brave the actual dinner hour at my destinations, I always found eating alone was not so scary, especially when I grabbed a seat at the bar. If you are traveling solo, eating at bars can be a great way to socialize, learn something new about where you are staying and even have a little conversation with someone else over a meal. In hindsight, I wish I ate more meals during actual dinner hours and in bar scenarios where I could have more social interaction.

Arriving at a New Destination Under Stressful Circumstances

On my big solo trip to Ireland, I flew into Dublin and promptly rented a car to drive into the city. Having never driven on the other side of the road, this task proved especially stressful. With a GPS that couldn’t find a satellite signal, I roamed into Dublin blindly looking for my hotel. I ended up down a dead end and narrow lane, nearly in tears and wishing I wasn’t alone. Everything turned out just fine in the end but I wish I had eliminated the stresses on my first day of solo travel. I should have picked up the car a few days later after getting over jet lag and having a few days to get adjusted to life on the road alone. If you can, try to make your first few days of solo travel as relaxed as possible.

Thinking Everyone is Out to Get You or Everyone is Your Best Friend

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When I traveled solo the first few times, I had a tendency to distrust anyone that wanted to talk to me. I was worried they had sinister intentions, especially in the first few days of traveling alone. As I got into the swing of things, I quickly realized that I could let down my guard a bit. The opposite can also be true of solo travel. You might go into to it wide-eyed and overly trusting, heading off with a stranger after a five-minute conversation. Solo travel does require a delicate balance of trust and skepticism. Should you fall too far in either direction, you could find yourself in a very isolating or dangerous situation. Enjoy those conversations that spring up with locals and other travelers, but never agree to head off alone with someone you just met in a place that’s unfamiliar to you.

Failing to Splurge Once in Awhile

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Solo travel can be rewarding and empowering. For me, I always find this new sense of confidence when I travel alone. I figure out how to get from A to B, drive in foreign countries and speak other languages. Then again, solo travel can wear on you over time. There can be a tendency to always feel the need to get up and go, to keep moving. While you might be traveling alone, it never hurts to splurge on some “me” time every once in awhile. Ditch the hostel for a nice hotel some nights. Feast on a fancy meal or spend a day doing absolutely nothing.

Traveling solo isn’t always sunshine and roses. However, based on my experiences on the road alone, it provides memories I’m glad I made. By avoiding these mistakes that I’ve made on solo travels, you just might catch a solo travel bug and never want to travel with anyone else but yourself.

Have you traveled solo? What other solo travel mistakes would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments section.

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About The Author

Suzy Guese

Suzy Guese is a travel writer from Denver, Colorado. She caught the travel bug after taking her very first flight at just three months old—she was headed for Disney World—and has been a total travel junkie ever since. From family car trips across North America to stints abroad in Europe, Suzy travels the globe with her redheaded temperament in search of sarcasm, stories, and travel tips to share with anyone willing to listen. She blogs about her travels at http://suzyguese.com.