This is my first interview in a series I will be doing with different types of travellers. I met Lucy in Udaipur and she seemed like the perfect candidate. The aim is to interview normal, everyday people so that anyone reading at home can relate and hopefully think about travelling for themselves as a result. I will be interviewing all different types of people and I will not be doing any interviews with travel bloggers or anyone who has their own agenda.
Met in: Jaipur, India
Travelling for: 24 days with 56 to go.
Countries visited in lifetime: 34
How old were you when you first travelled by yourself? 32
Where did you go? South East Asia
Do you think that is a good place to start? Why?
Yes – SE Asia has an established travel scene and there is a good chance to meet other solo travellers – plus its cheap!
What is your favourite country that you have travelled in solo? Why?
Bolivia. There are so many incredible things to see and they are so varied. One day you could be in the amazon and another day you could be on the salt flats, all in the same country. I felt it was more challenging to travel there as it is not as established as a backpacker destination as SE Asia. This made it more rewarding.
How do you meet people travelling?
I try to pick places to stay where I think there will be more backpackers and ideally with dorms. Dorms mean you have to talk to people straight away as soon as you walk into the room – even if you don’t want to. I try to choose popular places on hostelworld.com because there is a better chance it will be busy.
Why do you travel?
I want adventure and that’s what travel is to me, its one big adventure. It’s the only thing that really excites me. Seeing other cultures and other landscapes which are completely different to home.
What would you say is the biggest reward that you get from travelling?
Personally, that I have learnt so much about myself. I have accepted that it’s ok to not conform to the norms of society. I have learnt that the way I think I am at home – super organised, driven, ambitious, sensible – is not everything that I am and when I travel I am pretty unorganised and less stressed and I have less worries about the small things. It gives me a massive amount of freedom I never thought I could have. It has given me a new perspective which would not have been possible back at home.
Do you prefer to travel solo, with one other person, or as a group or 3 or more? Why?
Travelling solo means that I meet more people. Without a doubt. If you travel with others there is more chance you will get caught up only speaking to each other and you are less likely to meet other people. However, sometimes when you are travelling you meet such amazing people that you don’t want to leave them. The times I like travelling solo the least are when I am in transit like on a train or night bus. I never see that part as being an exciting or rewarding part of the journey.
Do you ever get lonely on the road? What do you do on those occasions?
I send an email to one of my lifeline’s back home. Even just writing the email helps. I force myself to go to a common area or somewhere where there will be other people and even when I am feeling down I make the effort to speak to people. If I do this normally it’s over in a couple of hours and by the time I get a reply email I am already happy again.
Were you ever hesitant about travelling solo? What changed your mind?
Yes definitely. My biggest concern was that I was too old. I was worried that there would be young gap year students and then me and it would be hard to relate. I spoke to friends who had travelled and they assured me there would be other people over 30 travelling and found it to be true! Going it alone is always going to be a bit scary. You have to get over it if you are going to do it.
Why did you decide that you wanted to travel?
I had wanted to travel since I was 20 but I felt I never had the opportunity. I thought the biggest challenge would be sharing a room with strangers. All of a sudden you go from having your own bedroom to literally sharing with people you have never met before. Now it’s actually one of the things I find really easy.
What do you find the most challenging thing about travelling?
Not seeing my friends and family back home.
Is there anything that you thought you couldn’t live without but now you realise you actually can?
When you think about going away, you think you are going to miss out on all the important events back home. The reality is that there are rarely dramatic changes or events that occur in life at home and in fact the biggest changes will occur for you whilst you travel. When you are away, time seems so much longer – a week feels like a month because you can pack so much into it. You might have seen 2 wonders of the world and visited 2 countries where as back home everyone has just gone to work for a week and gone to the pub on Friday night.
Do you ever feel like you are ready to go home?
There has only been once when I have truly felt ready to go home and that was because my sister had a baby.
What advice do you have for people who are hesitant about travelling solo?
Ask yourself: What have you got to lose?
Take a massive leap. Once you have taken that step, the whole world is waiting.
What advice do you have for people who decide to travel?
Follow your own path.
Trust your instincts.
Listen to what everyone has to say but always make your own decisions.
Keep a journal or a blog. Sometimes you just need a reminder of what it was like when you get back home.
Don’t plan a route before you do a trip. I just pick a starting point and then talk to other travellers there and decide on the next step.
Well there you have it! An interview with a solo traveller. Hopefully this will help to give you some insight into why Lucy travels and it has given you something to think about.