5 things I learned from my first solo trip.
I’m the world’s biggest homebody. If we’re being uncomfortably honest here, I usually spend my Friday nights in Tamriel, not on an irl adventure. So if I can embark on a #solotravel journey, so can you. These are the 5 things I discovered while exploring Iceland alone.
1. Be on time.
Normally, I am a very punctual person. I wear a watch daily and become anxious about being late for things. When you’re on a trip and you’re only responsible for yourself, I found this extra important, especially while taking planned tours with groups. Yes, it’s your vacation, and you can do whatever you want with your time but if the guide needs you to be back on the bus by 13:00, you need to get yourself there. If your adventure is outdoors or nature based, purchase a waterproof watch because otherwise you will be late hiking down that waterfall. Honest.
2. Stranger Selfies.
Here’s the trick to getting photos of yourself while traveling alone: ask others. I had lots of women, who also appeared alone, ask me to take their photos and I did the same. Also if there’s a group trying to awkwardly take a selfie, your offering to take their photo will be welcome (and then they usually will offer to take one of you). Only approach people you feel safe around - thieves are a thing and you will be handing this person your phone. In the areas with lots of tourists, you should be able to identify who actually is struggling to take a photo and help them.
3. Splurge on what’s important to you.
Most of my travel plans were frugal: discount airfare, sweet deal on a hotel, hot dogs 5 times… I digress. There were a few moments where I know spending the money would be worth the memories. This includes the langoustines I had for dinner, as well as the large guided tours I went on. Which brings me to…
4. Know your limits.
It’s incredibly easy to drive around Iceland by yourself. There’s loads of travel guides for ‘self-driving tours’ all over Pinterest. I opted not to do this. I live in DC without a car, and have no cause to drive regularly. Combining this with the limited sunlight and potentially adverse weather conditions of an Icelandic November, I chose to do individual day trips through tour companies to everything I wanted to see. It was probably more expensive than getting a car, but when we were in whiteout conditions coming back to Reykjavik from Jorkulsarlon, I knew I had made the right choice for me. I will definitely drive during a summer trip, but this was what I was comfortable with.
5. Walk away if it’s not right.
This is so obvious but so so so important. You’ll know if you’re uncomfortable or if the situation isn’t right. This can apply to situations you feel are dangerous, but also mundane things. I walked into a restaurant in Reykjavik and the waitress looked at me like I had three heads when I said I was alone. I sat down, then stood up, apologized to her and left. I had a great night in the lounge at Apotek, where they weren’t weird about me being alone. Have zero shame about leaving a situation if it’s not what you expected or wanted.