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Tips and Tricks For Solo Traveling: How To Navigate Unforeseen Mishaps

Embrace the chaos as a beautiful adventure!

Aeroplane souring up into the sky.
Credit: Shutterstock/muratart

Curiosity and a thirst for new experiences are infused in our veins. A natural part of the human condition; thus travel will always be an interest for young people. What is not talked about is the things that inevitably go wrong and how mishaps shape your unique and memorable travel experience.

One might say they are inevitable and should be embraced rather than feared. Today, from drawing on my own experiences, I will discuss the unavoidable disturbances in a once-perceived solid travel plan and highlight the beauty and importance of welcoming these mishaps.

Positive Mindset

It is necessary to remain positive and to allow yourself time to settle in. Things may not be incredible right away. Many young people have a romanticized view of travel, comprised of all the fun aspects of seeing the world. The thought of travel horror stories seems to be avoided due to the blissfully ignorant notion that if you plan every detail of a trip, everything will 100% run smoothly. Despite the abruptness of my decision to take a gap year from college, I carefully planned out my trip. From February to June, I would work as an au pair in Italy. If anyone is unfamiliar with the term, it is a babysitter who lives with a family and is given free food and accommodation in exchange for a certain amount of hours of child care.

When Things Do Not Go To Plan

I had an idealized idea of my solitude trip but unfortunately, I was lonely and isolated. The area I was staying in did not have many young people to meet. I was made to do chores I was not supposed to do, and my hours were more than anticipated. I found communicating and living with my host family awkward and difficult. I needed to escape, but I did not want to give up and go home. I remained positive and began devising a plan to travel somewhere else. 

Au Pairing Tips

My au pair experience should not necessarily turn anyone away from its idea. Many people thoroughly enjoy their experience, but it’s necessary to establish some sort of contract and mutual understanding with your host family so that you do not accidentally get taken advantage of. When you are living where you work, you must be clear of your hours off. So you know when you can stay in your room and do your own thing. I know first-hand how difficult it is to stand up to an authority or employee. It can be awkward, especially for natural people-pleasers! The good thing is no matter who you are, everyone gets better at it with age and experience.

I recommend going to a family who has had au pairs previously; you can ask to speak to them to learn about how they found their experience. Finally, take into consideration your priorities. If you want to meet other young travelers, make sure to choose a location that will enable you to fulfill this desire. These are the precautions that I should have taken; but alas! I have learned from my mistakes.

A photograph taken by me on one of our sunniest days in Rome.

 Travel light, and take advantage of online platforms like World Packers, which will enable you to travel cheaply. This platform connects travelers with communities all over the world. You volunteer and offer skills in exchange for accommodation and food. The world was my oyster. I began applying to various places throughout Italy. After research and a phone call interview, I acquired a position working in a hostel in Rome. Unfortunately for me, chaos prevailed when my employer read my diary and discovered my secret plans of escape. She immediately fired me and I was left homeless and alone in a foreign country.

More advice time- travel light, and with a rucksack, especially if you go interrailing. I was weighed down with my heavy suitcases!

The Importance Of Talking To Everyone

Talk to everyone, the friends you make will save you. Two weeks before, I had befriended a Spanish girl who sat beside me on the bus. Instead of putting in my headphones, I decided to talk to her; and I’m so glad I did. When I was kicked out by my host family, Nightfall was creeping. I was scared, I rang my Spanish friend and she took me in. I stayed with her for two nights before embarking on a nine-hour bus journey to Rome. Thankfully the Hostel job let me start early.

Solo Travel Does Not Mean Loneliness

The importance of friendship and connecting with people is one of the most significant lessons I learnt travelling. People often misinterpret solo travelling to mean you are completely alone. It doesn’t, it will mean you will meet new people. You will never be alone if you are open to new friendships. 

The first night I got to Rome, I was overwhelmed with relief and gratitude. I felt liberated. Excitement surrounded me. I lived with two Argentinian girls, one from Chile and one from Florida. We were all from such different places, all different ages with different cultures and experiences; we were diverse, yet so similar. As women, as people. Sage and incense burned in the apartment. Sticky notes with Spanish words were sprinkled on objects around the kitchen, in hopes of teaching non-speakers different adjectives.

Working In A Hostel

Every night we organized the hostel, hosting karaoke and yoga for the guests. I met new people, we danced and laughed and when I think about them now I can almost cry. The friends you meet along the way who you might never see again are the ones you learn the most from. It is a beautiful thing to find connections and compatibility with strangers from all over the world. How one sees the world and grows is by making friends with people outside of their circle. After all, isn’t the purpose of life new, different, fun, and unique experiences? Things will go wrong because that is how life works, but you have to remain unwaveringly and delusionally positive in the knowledge that everything will always work out as it is meant to.

Safety First

When Solo traveling, it is important to consider safety, especially as a woman. During my days off, I traveled to nearby cities like Naples. At Hostel World, I was able to join groups connect with other travelers, and seek advice. Connecting with other people will allow you to gain necessary recommendations on safe locations. Stay connected, keep your phone charged, and invest in portable chargers. Make yourself aware of local laws, customs, and emergency numbers. If meeting new people is your objective, which I recommend it is, always stay in Hostel. It is cheaper, more fun, and will give you an authentic experience. 

Everything Always Works Out

There is a phrase commonly used, “Say Yes to everything!” This is a good motto to live by, when traveling you need to be open-minded to everything. New cultures, and friends, and tackling issues that may arise. Remember, do not let these little issues send you home. Everything can always be worked out. I was tempted to give up and come home; I’m so thankful I persevered.  The issues that arose for me were necessary and I would not change my experience. Remember to Journal. Write down every little detail about your experiences and the people you meet. This will be a first-hand primary source along with your pictures. The more positive and open your mindset is, the more incredible and beautiful times you will attract back.

Written By

20 year old student from Dublin studying english and sociology in trinity. On a 6 month internship with trill mag ! :))

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Helen casey

    January 28, 2024 at 9:46 pm

    Really engaging read. Found it v informative too

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