I just joined this on a whim today as my travel partner has backed out of our plans (through no fault of her own!) but that leaves me to either 'go it alone' or forget about my 'trip of a lifetime'...
But I'm a tad apprehensive. I'm no stranger to travel, but have always gone with at least one other friendly face in the past, so I'm ridiculously nervous & just altogether unsure about doing 6months of solo travel (which will include; S.America, S.E Asia, N.Z and Oz)
The plan was to leave in July '11, but i'm thinking about putting it off for a bit (or altogether) until I can try and get my head around the idea of going alone ....and then try & convince my family that I'm not nuts either! (they're not particularly enamoured at the idea of me globe trotting as a lone female...)
The problem is, I've been looking forward to the trip for so long (and saving for over a year!), that I'll be gutted if I can't go, not to mention the regrets I would have!
Ahhhh! What to do!
First though, why is it that you are scared to go by yourself? If you can tell us what about travelling alone scares you, we can better help you address those fears.
Most, if not all, of your destinations are extremely popular with backpackers so you wouldn't really be alone at all. Plus travelling alone gives you the freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want without having to consult your travel partner. You can travel with random groups of people that are also travelling in the same direction for a bit or strike off on your own whenever you'd like. I'm sure you'll meet tons of people who are in the same boat as you.
One thing that might help with your family (and your own) comfort level is if you took a few self-defense classes before you left. I'm sure you wouldn't need to use it, but it never hurts and can boost your confidence. Travelling alone abroad isn't that much more dangerous than traveling at home alone. If you look confident, dress appropriately and keep your wits about you, you should be fine.
You could also join a tour group for the first few days when you get to a new destination so that you have time to become comfortable with your surroundings and meet other people.
As you've travelled in the past, I'm sure you know how to read maps. Get a guidebook and prepare yourself for the destination. Maybe even learning a bit of the local language would boost your confidence, although there will generally be people around who speak at least some English. And body language can be used too!
In any case, definitely go for it. Without fear, there is no courage! so, no regrets?
I've been travelling alone for since September and I have to say it's been an amazing experience. Of course there have been the 'ups' and 'downs' of it all. You just have to get a rather resourceful head on your shoulders. When you're not enjoying a place or you feel lonely, simply move on. The next place may bring more people you get on with and more adventures, you just never know till you get there. When a place is so amazing you wish you were sharing it with someone, get he camera out, document it. You'll share it with someone later!
It's pretty exciting travelling by yourself. You become independant, exceptionally resourceful and learn that your instinct is generally always right. Every day you wake up and make the decision to stay or move on on your own, so every day you do what you want to do. For me, it's been the most amazing experience.
I also met people in a hostel in Koh Phi Phi that are now my best mates now we're all staying in Melbourne for a while as people do move in similar directions around the globe. I also have friends of friends in different places around Australia, so while I'm technically travelling solo, there's always some friendly face I'm sort of heading towards. There's also forums like this to help meet up with people if you're feeling lonely.
If you're feeling alone, you won't make new friends sitting in your hostel room either. Get out there, learn to say hi to the person sitting next to you and be prepared to ask everyone the same questions "hi, where you from? how long have you been travelling?" - it's general protocol and I personally believe it's to make conversation long enough to establish whether someone's a nutter or not, but they're good openers to your conversation and you will make friends - some will be friends for a day, and some will become friends for life.
Good luck! Keep us posted
Oh ALSO.... look at volunteering programmes as back up - you don't have to officially enroll in them before you go and you don't always have to pay money to organisations to place you (though sometimes if you're set on doing a programme before you go this will offer greater security if you go through an agency / organisation for placement) . When I first left I was feeling really alone in South Africa, but I'd found a primate sanctuary online before I'd left and had exchanged a few emails with them. After my first 5 days feeling a bit lonely, I just called them up and asked if I could start ASAP and it was just brilliant to make friends there; other international volunteers and locals. They became my little family for a month - it was fantastic to have friendly faces every day and I'm still in touch with lots of them.
Also busses are one of the easiest ways round SE Asia and they're full of backpackers all heading to the same single location. A couple of times I've met some buddies on the bus, we've then gone looking for accomodation together when we reached our destination, and then hung out for a few days after that too. You can make friends a lot, if you just get out there!
When are you planning to be in South East Asia, I am planning to be there in July and August so if you would like to meet up for drinks and share travelling experiences.
I wouldn't be worried about going alone though as it will still be so muich fun and you will get to meet people in hostels. It would be a shame for you to cancel your trip, as you have been saving for ages and you must have been looking forward to it as well.
Thanks so much for the posts, feeling a lot better about the idea of 'going it alone' now
...kitty, its great to hear that you're having such a positive experience & you're right about the volunteering programmes, I've had a look at a few since you posted & it could definitely be a route to go down!
My ticket is still firmly booked anyway, so Holly, all going well I should be in S.E.Asia in August, I would definitely be up for meeting!
And....i may just have another travel buddy! Nothing set in stone but another friend has said she may be up for it.
Having said that, I'm more than happy to head off now even if that falls through, I'm getting more and more excited as the days go past!
Thank again girls!