The Reality of Traveling Alone

Isabel Orozco
7 min readSep 29, 2019

We love to romanticize certain aspects of life. For me, it has always been traveling alone. It has always been that vision of myself with a massive backpack crushing my spine, navigating new streets, meeting people from all over the world and listening to their stories, reading a book in a coffee shop where I can’t read the menu, and staring out the windows of airplanes and trains. It has always been that vision that I see before I go to sleep at night that keeps my ambition more alive than ever.

Recently I made an immense change in my life. I decided to take a tremendous leap toward my aspirations. But before that, I had to visit. Thus, I took a solo trip to Europe before the big move. That was not only the first time I traveled alone, but the first time I left the continent.

Before embarking on this short journey, I did everything I could to prepare myself. I read many articles on solo traveling and bought everything necessary to keep myself safe and prepared. I noted precautions, studied the maps, and asked questions. Yet nothing prepared me for the little things that can make a big difference. These realities were prevalent and I had to quickly learn to handle them.

Here are the challenges of traveling alone:

Navigating. Well, this one was very predictable. Having to follow the walking directions on your phone while also looking up, keeping an eye on your stuff, and not getting run over is a tedious task. I recommend taking screenshots of every street, trying to memorize where to turn on what street, and stopping at times to prepare for your next several steps. It is imperative to not make it obvious you are navigating. Travel like a local.

Everything is on you. You choose where to eat, what time to sleep, what to see, and who to become friends with. Every decision up to you. I had trouble often walking endlessly for hours because I did not know where to stop. I would end up at the same place every day. This problem was solved after the first few days by having a rough idea of where to go. Also, your hostel may have walking tours where you will make new friends and be able to plan where to go together. This helps tremendously.

You will feel lonely. You will make a lot of friends from all over the world. Yet this doesn’t stop the feeling of loneliness. Going from the airports, train stations, or bus stations alone can be a frightful experience especially if it is far. You may wonder at times why you are even…

Isabel Orozco

Taking on life around the world and writing about it | Passionately curious