Just do it!
I did a lot of research before heading to Vietnam on my own, probably too much research to be honest. So many people really overthink solo travel, and everyone will give you all sorts of warnings before you go. To be honest, it’s not really that big of a deal.
When I was telling my friends and family about my trip to Vietnam, their first response was usually “so you’re just going on your own?” in a very condescending voice or even “Maybe wait until someone can go with you. South East Asia isn’t that safe.”
After actually going on this trip I can tell you that Vietnam is an incredibly safe country to visit. Most of the time I felt safer than I do in Australia to be honest. If other people are making you hesitant about travelling alone remember that people are just people, and that language, appearance and traditions never deter from that.
Secondly, don’t let the fact that other people think it’s weird to go overseas by yourself diminish your excitement. Sure, some people might not be comfortable travelling a long way on their own. But the chances are if you’re planning a solo trip it’s something you actually want to do. If you are comfortable being by yourself then just do it, don’t listen to other people.
While I was in Vietnam I didn’t even notice that I was by myself most of the time. Taking in another culture and actually talking to local people are my favourite parts of travelling. Because I was by myself I think I got to do more of this than I would have if I’d travelled with other people. Whenever I’d sit down to eat lunch or dinner I would always have a chat with the people making the food. On tours I would get to know my guide and the other people on the tour. I met so many interesting people throughout my time in Vietnam simply because I would just talk to everyone.
In Hanoi there are often students walking around the Hoan Kiem Lake looking to improve their English. They would often approach me, because I’m a young solo traveller and probably much easier to approach than an entire group of westerners. This was a really great way to learn about Vietnam and how the locals live. The students were usually the same age as me so we’d talk about what we’re studying our families and things like that.
Being able to do whatever you want when you want is another perk of travelling alone. You want to have dinner earlier, sure go for it! Feel like booking a spontaneous photography tour? Do it! This means you can enjoy every aspect of your experience and do something you enjoy every day!
People have different travelling styles, and I’m hesitant about travelling with other people because I worry that a trip might not be as enjoyable if they don’t have the same travelling style as me. When you’re travelling solo you don’t need to worry about this!
I think there was one time throughout the whole trip that I felt really alone and scared. On the way from the airport to my hotel in Hanoi the taxi driver asked me to get out of the car and back in again so he could restart the meter. I couldn’t quite understand why this was necessary. Long story short; we were on the side of a freeway and I didn’t want to get out because my suitcase was in the boot and I wasn’t risking him just driving off with my stuff. So after at least ten minutes of refusing to get out he finally drove towards my hotel again, although he was now very grumpy.
As a young solo traveller in a place I had never been before this moment was kind of scary. I was worried he wasn’t going to take me to my hotel, or that he would overcharge me. There were a million worried running through my head. Once I finally got to my hotel I was a bit shaken for the rest of the day, but decided the next morning to get on with the day and not let that incident ruin anything!
This would have been equally as scary if I was with another person though. There will be bad moments whenever you travel, regardless of whether or not you’re with other people. However, this was one of among about two or three bad moments throughout my two-week trip, so don’t let it worry you too much.
I was so nervous to go to Vietnam by myself, but in the end it was so much fun and I wouldn’t have done anything differently. Ok, maybe I would have had the hotel car pick me up at the airport in Hanoi. Don’t let other people’s fears or apprehension get in the way of what you want to do.
Happy travels 🙂