Solo Travel Myths and Misconceptions
One of the most common misconceptions about solo travel that Beckford hears is that it is boring.
“I think when people imagine solo traveling in their brain, they visualize it, and they imagine landing and going to their hotel and putting down their stuff and then having nothing to do,” Beckford said. “They’re like, ‘What happens after you arrive there alone?’ And if you haven’t done it before, you don’t know the possibilities. So it can just seem like you go out to eat, and then what? You go to sleep, and then what? But I know how quick it is to fill up those hours in a day.”
One of the first things Beckford tells travelers who think going solo is boring is that you meet many people this way.
“You actually meet more people solo traveling than you do when traveling with a group because you’re not tied to that group,” Beckford said. “People approach me; I approach people; it’s just so much easier to have a flexible schedule. Hostels have daily activities. You can just sign up for one five minutes before it starts, and you don’t have to ask anyone else, and [you can] meet people that way. Things just happen.”
Beckford recommends Hostelworld, Hostelling International and Expedia to find hostel accommodations when traveling solo.
“I like to stay at hostels because I like to meet people,” Beckford said. “People are the best part of traveling for me, but I also like to stay in private rooms at hostels, so I still have a little bit of space. I travel so often with a bunch of technology for my job. So just for a lot of reasons, safety and making sure nothing goes missing, I like to have a private room.”
Beckford says Mexico is an excellent example of where travelers will often come in groups but might miss out on extraordinary solo experiences in the country.
“When I hear people come with groups, they leave, and they’re like, ‘yeah, I didn’t have to use any Spanish because I just was with my friends who spoke English, and I didn’t have to meet anyone else because I was with my friends,’” Beckrod said. “This [Mexico] is just the perfect example of a country where people are so great, and the food is so great, and there is so much to do here that if you really want to get out and experience it — you should try going solo!
If you are afraid of being judged or scared to travel solo, Beckford says these feelings are often rooted in myths.
“I always tell them that no one’s paying attention to you, honestly,” Beckford said. “When traveling solo, you think everyone’s staring at you, and then when you do it enough, you’re like, ‘Oh, I’m literally invisible.’ That’s a really freeing feeling to be able to go out to lunch by yourself and not have to maintain a conversation or not have to think of things [to say] or be in someone’s companionship.”
It’s all up to you, Beckford says. If you want to explore and look around — do that. If you want to make friends, strike up a conversation.
“People think that they’re gonna walk up to people and say like, ‘Hey, do you wanna hang out?’ And people are just going to laugh in their faces and walk away,” Beckford said. “I promise that has never happened to me or anyone else [I know]. Everyone’s just afraid to make the first move. I think if you go into any space with the mindset of, like, you just want to be friendly, you’re there to have a good time, and you approach someone — those people are just so grateful — they’re exactly like you — they’re in the same position where they’re like, ‘I hope someone talks to me, I’m so nervous right now.’
That energy from making friends is infectious, Beckford says.
“I just went on a tour the other day where I went solo, and I think there were maybe ten people, and five people were solo,” Beckford said. “It was kind of quiet at the beginning, and by the end of it, we all had each other’s numbers, and we’re in a group chat planning more tours for the rest of the trip.”