Solo travel: 8 pearls of wisdom from a blogger who's been going it alone for years

15th Apr 18 | Lifestyle

Want to go travelling but worried about doing it solo? Aubrey Daquinag shares what she's learned from life on the road.

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Many people dream of taking some time off, packing a rucksack and booking a ticket somewhere you’ve never been before. Doing it totally alone is slightly scarier.

Aubrey Daquinag, who runs travel and lifestyle blog The Love Assembly, has been exploring the world alone for the last few years. Now she’s written a book, Wander Love: Lessons, tips & inspiration from a solo traveller, with six destination guides including Cartagena in Colombia and Palwan in the Philippines.

(Aubrey Daquinag /PA)
Hong Kong (Aubrey Daquinag/PA)

About to embark on a big solo trip (or need a push to book one)? Daquinag tells reveals what she’s learned from quitting her full time job and stepping into the unknown.

1. Time is our most valuable currency

When you’re travelling on your own, you spend a lot of time with yourself, and you can spend your time however you want. You have time to reflect on what really matters to you. Who you choose to spend your time with and what you choose to spend your time doing play a big part in who you will become as a person. What they say is true: time is the most valuable currency. Choose to spend it wisely, doing the things that make you happy.

2. Expectations are the root of all disappointment

It’s true that nothing beats the anticipation of travel: the excitement, the daydreams, the images that you will finally be seeing in real life, even the ‘pre‑departure-just-paid-for‑my-flights-help-me-I’m-poor’ state. It all, in its own way, brings happiness prior to the journey itself. But the reality is that your imagined destination will never match up exactly with what’s really there, and it’s also a fact that as much as you prepare for something, things can and will change. Arrive with plans but no expectations, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Melbourne (Aubrey Daquinag /PA)
Melbourne (Aubrey Daquinag/PA)

3. Things are just that – things

Be prepared to lose things on the road: your favourite sunglasses, a wallet full of cash and cards, an iPhone with photos that were never backed up. Sometimes it will be taken from you (damn those pickpockets!), and sometimes it will be your fault. My first solo travels around South America, accomplished with just two backpacks, made me realise how little we actually need. Travel is the art of minimal living, showing us that it’s our experiences that make us truly happy.

4. The real world is a solid education

Time on the road on your own will be a constant stream of highs and lows, and will bring a crazy amount of realisations and knowledge. This could be anything from learning an artistic skill that has been passed down through generations, like the time I learned how to weave on a traditional backstrap loom from a ten-year-old Peruvian girl, to simply using the local language as much as possible. Let your experiences overflow with everything unique that the country has to offer and be open to learning.

New York and Coron (Aubrey Daquinag/PA)
New York and Coron, Philippines (Aubrey Daquinag/PA)

6. You don’t find yourself, you create yourself

Prior to setting out on my own solo adventures I had heard the stories about what travelling solo did for women – how it changed them, how they grew, and that well-worn cliché, how they ‘found themselves’ out there in the world. Honestly, though, I completely disagree. Instead, I think when you set out on your own you create yourself. You show yourself who you really are, or who you have the potential to be, in the different scenarios you find yourself in. On the road you can be anyone you want to be… but it’s a beautiful thing when you choose to be yourself.

7. When you become comfortable at being uncomfortable, you allow yourself to grow

I still remember how I felt during the first couple of days of staying in a hostel for the first time: it felt really strange. I was only familiar with hotel life, travelling with a partner, friends, family – someone I knew – and here I was creeping down the hallway on my tippy toes at half past midnight, on the other side of the world, quietly checking into a shared dorm in the company of two guys I didn’t know. No matter how awkward you may feel, cast yourself out of your comfort zone and into the world of uncertainty. This is where sparks fly, where the magic happens.

Barcelona and Tulum (Aubrey Daquinag /PA)
Barcelona and Tulum, Mexico (Aubrey Daquinag/PA)

8. You are all that you need

When you travel solo, you have no one else to depend on except for yourself, from little things like carrying heavy bags and booking transport and accommodation, to more challenging aspects such as navigating your way through a new place and adapting when situations don’t go in your favour. Relying on yourself and your own resources has so many benefits. You figure everything out on your own, like little flying hacks such as how nabbing a red-eye flight from one destination to another will help you save money on accommodation, even if it’s just for one night. To sum it up – solo travel is liberating and empowering.

Book cover (Aubrey Daquinag /PA)

Wander Love: Lessons tips & inspiration from a solo traveller, by Aubrey Daquinag, Hardie Grant Books, £16.99, is available now.

© Press Association 2018

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