Do you love solo travel escapades? Have you done it again or is it the first time? Here are some of the most awkward solo travel situations that this type of traveling might present.
Traveling solo is an excellent option as you can enjoy your independence during the travel. Also, you can freely roam around whenever and wherever you like without any kind of pressure.
On a lone trip, you’ll mostly get to meet new people and sometimes even make new friends. You might find new people you can roam around with and have chatting sessions.
However, this isn’t always as charming as it sounds. Sometimes, traveling solo can turn out really bad due to some silly and awkward solo travel situations that one can face on those solo trips.
But what exactly these awkward situations be? All that in a bit.
What is Solo Traveling?
Solo traveling is basically traveling on your own terms and conditions. It means you have the freedom to change your plans whenever you like, without any stress, as you are all alone on the trip.
Solo travelers do things at their own pace. For instance, there is no one to tend to, please or appease, and no one to snub your ideas or ask you why you change your plan at the very last minute. Now, that’s freedom!
Generally, there are quite a lot of advantages when a person travels alone – it’s cheaper for one. But there are some disadvantages that you should be aware of before you plan a solo travel adventure…lest things get…awkward…
For this reason, you should first do proper and detailed research on the place you are visiting alone. Also, you should carry along the required essentials that might be hard to find there.
But sometimes, even if we go prepared, we can still be caught up in some awkward situations – where we are unable to find any solution to help us escape that problematic situation.
In this piece, we’ll provide you with a list of awkward situations that a person traveling alone may face and how to cope with such.
Top Awkward Situations for Solo Travelers
1. Miscommunication with the Pharmacist
This one is undoubtedly a very bad and awkward situation. Say you are on a solo trip, you go to the chemist shop to buy some medicine, but the pharmacist actually gives you different medicine instead of the one you want. And all this is due to the communication gap and lack of understanding.
When you cannot explain what type of medicine you require, it actually lands you in an embarrassing situation – potentially worse if you’re dumb enough to take that medicine. The best solution to this problem is always to have a phrasebook with you. Alternatively, bring your own drugs and medical supplies to avoid going to the pharmacist.
This way, you do not get into such awkward situations where you start feeling embarrassed and pissed off. Such occurrences are common in countries where the local language is not English – which believe it or not is in most countries. Yikes.
2. Miscommunication with the Taxi Driver
Generally, when one travels alone, the best source of transportation is hiring a taxi. Unlike other local transport modes, including mass public transportation, a taxi is quite convenient, it’s quiet, it’s more private, better for hauling luggage, and easy to find in towns and cities.
But problems may arise when you hire a taxi, and the driver does not understand a lick of what you’re babbling on about. As a result, you cannot explain where exactly you want them to drive you.
This can result in a horrifying situation where one can even get lost somewhere else where you cannot find the right location. Then, ultimately you might need to help from the local police, which is a hassle.
And who knows if they can understand you!
To avoid such a situation, one should always carry a map of the city you are traveling to. Besides that, one should always have an emergency phone of a local friend or family member who you can call when stuck in such an awkward situation.
Also, you can use rental car services and drive yourself, or opt for a rideshare app like Lyft where you have to plug in your destination before you book.
See related: 15 Things about Long Term Travel You Can’t Miss
3. Confusion at the Railway Station
Getting confused at the railway station is quite a common problem among tourists who travel alone. Generally, travelers might get into an awkward solo travel situation, especially if it’s their first solo trip.
For instance, they might buy the wrong ticket and travel to an unknown place where there is no place to escape, save the way you came. Or, they can get on the wrong train, which also lands them in a similar situation. When you end up in an unknown city all alone, you can feel upset and embarrassed, to say the least.
One of the best solo travel tips here is to always think before doing something. This is crucial when you are traveling alone, and you have less knowledge of the city, or it’s entirely new to you.
If the ticket tellers do not understand your language, give them your destination and desired departure timings in writing. Point to signs, or rail maps. And be EXTRA sure that you’re on the right platform at the right time for the right train!
4. Wrong Food Order
This is another common situation that people generally face when traveling alone in a new city. If the city’s local language is not in your codex you might mess up by ordering some unknown food you cannot eat.
This might be unpleasant if it’s not to your taste, but it could be lethal if there are ingredients you’re allergic to!
The problem occurs when you are not aware of the city’s local cuisines and randomly order something from the menu. Many tourists will find themselves in such situations when they order something just because it looks attractive on the menu. And when the order comes, it’s something you are not used to or something you can’t even imagine going down your throat.
In such an awkward situation, you can’t throw the food because you are in a restaurant, and in some cultures or certain types of restaurants (think fast food) returning the dish is easier said than done – especially if none of you speak the same lingo. So, you are left forcing yourself to eat something you don’t want, just to avoid embarrassment.
The situation can be horrible, especially if you are a vegan and what comes is more than 50% meat. The best solution here is to learn some keywords regarding recipes and ingredients in your destination’s native language or have a translation app handy. You can always write it down on paper and convey it to the chef, but who knows if they can understand your writing?
So, are you traveling to France, Germany, or Japan? Don’t only research the best restaurants there, but also explore the best dishes and how to order them.
5. Unexpected Strangers
When you travel solo to a totally different place where you do not know anybody, you should always be aware of the strangers out there. Sometimes you meet a stranger and find them quite kind and helpful. Then you start chit-chatting with them, but you do not know whether the stranger is genuine or if they will ditch you and take away your valuables.
Even worse, you may find yourself the victim of a violent crime, and nothing will ruin your trip more than being murdered – this I promise.
This may land you in a terrible situation (especially if you’re dead), and in most cases, you’ll not have any other option than to contact the local police. The situation might ruin your experience in the city, making you hate traveling there ever again.
If you want to avoid such situations, always be assertive and alert. Whenever you smell something fishy, immediately back out of the situation and maintain distance from the stranger.
Trust your gut – it’s right about more stuff than you’d think!
6. Stranded Alone in a Remote Area
We always believe that solo traveling is the best option to enjoy a perfect getaway where you have your own rules. There is no one to interfere with or question your decisions when you travel alone.
But sometimes, this can be really bad and awkward, especially if you are traveling to a remote destination. A person will realize the importance of other travelers when they find themselves alone in a remote and deserted area.
Have you seen 127 Hours? Yeesh.
This situation generally occurs when traveling on foot in remote areas and have covered miles but still haven’t found anyone to talk to. It can easily result in an emotional breakdown where you seriously start missing your loved ones.
Or it’s going to be like 127 Hours and you have to saw your own arm off with whatever you have to hand.
If you find yourself in such a situation, try to divert your mind and enjoy the tranquility. You can also immediately make a video call to your loved ones to help give you some sort of relief.
Or saw your own arm off.
Seriously though, if you are going into a remote area alone; TELL PEOPLE. Let them know your plans, the area you’re visiting, the route you are taking, everything. Make sure you also have some emergency gear, a phone, solar charger, water, food, and the details to contact emergency services.
See related: 15 Best Places to Travel Alone in the World
7. Sitting Alone at a Table for 8
If you prefer traveling alone but still love socializing, you might find yourself in an awkward situation – being alone at a large table.
For instance, you might enter a restaurant and sit at a table for 8, all alone with nobody to entertain or talk to you. All you can do now is eat your ordered food and feel jealous as you watch other people giggling with joy.
At that point, you realize that it might have been better if you had company. In fact, your own company doesn’t seem to be entertaining anymore.
The only solution is to either concentrate on your food or start chit-chatting with the hotel staff or even with the people dining out there. You can always invite people to your table too, but this might present you with a different awkward scenario!
8. “Women Problems”
I’m not talking about dating.
Did you know that just being a woman can land you in some awkward solo traveler situation? Yes, it can. It’s a sad fact of life. If you are traveling abroad alone as a woman, you might be shocked by what you find – or not; girls have to put up with an awful lot more crap than men do. Fight me on this.
For instance, some countries have quite different social rules for women. In some cultures, the age limit for unmarried women is 30 years, meaning after 30, you ought to be in your husband’s house rather than exploring on your vacation. It worsens when the local law doesn’t allow such women to travel alone for long distances like in Saudi Arabia.
In the former scenario, you might get locals staring at you and even gossiping about you, which can be quite disturbing. In the latter, you might go to jail – or worse.
Unless there’s is some law you’ve broken, you should ignore the stares and comments – this is easier said than done but, seriously, these people don’t have a say in your vacation.
Continue with what brought you to the place and have a good time. Remember, various countries have different cultures and beliefs, and you’ll not be the one to change them. It’s good to be respectful of local culture and customs, but you are your own person and as long as you are respectful and law-abiding, you’re all good!
9. Stalked by a Guy
This one is another big problem faced by solo women travelers – and just women walking alone in general now I think about it. It can become quite serious, potentially leading to fear, trauma, or worse.
Generally, when women travel alone, it’s not uncommon for them to get stalked. This can start with guys who enter the eve-teasing process and gradually start stalking and potentially even sexually harassing or assaulting women. This unwanted, uninvited attention makes women’s lives a living hell.
This is a tough one as you shouldn’t have to be the one to change the way you act to make up for men’s bad behavior. These people should understand that the women are in the country as guests!
Be assertive; no means NO. If someone refuses to leave you alone, call attention to it among those around you – most societies hate a persistent sleaze bag. If you’re alone, shout out the local word for “police” or “fire” to attract attention and deter the attacker. It’s also not a bad idea for women travelers to have the destination country’s women helpline number handy.
In addition, women should always keep a pepper spray in their bags to protect themselves from stalkers. I’d also recommend some self-defense classes (for all women actually) so you at least have a chance of getting away if you are attacked. Just remember to use sprays and self-defense moves ONLY as a last resort.
10. Being Made Fun Of
No one likes being made fun of or ridiculed. But, this doesn’t mean you can’t find yourself in such as situation, especially when you are far away from home.
Such a situation mostly happens if you have some difficulty with the local language, a disability, a different way of dressing, or even different skin color. Such differences can cause the locals to start making fun of you, whether openly or secretly.
If you are traveling as a group or with a family, such problems might not be a bother. This is because you have someone you talk to or confide in. This can be very disturbing when traveling alone, especially when you can’t even find other solo travelers to talk to.
The solution to this problem is to either avoid or ignore such stupid remarks or make them realize that everybody is equal, which is quite a difficult task.
The key is to kill with kindness – people generally feel pretty bad for making fun of someone who is wholly nice, and the power you have from being nice while someone is failing to make you feel bad with laughs and jeers is HUGE.
Alternatively, you can laugh even harder back at them, giving them a taste of their own medicine. This can have interesting results, including finding some common ground amidst fits of laughter.
Ultimately, other people’s words will hurt you if you let them hurt you. Don’t take yourself so seriously.
Or you can also stop traveling alone.
11. Mixed Feelings
There’s no doubt that solo traveling can be fun, especially when no bad incidents are encountered. The feeling of having all that time to yourself without being asked why you made this decision or that is simply fulfilling.
But, being alone means being far away from your loved ones. And loneliness might crawl in to make the trip a nightmare. You heard that right! Your own solo adventure might make your solo adventure awkward!
While you might yearn for that solo trip, you might also not be ready for the loneliness that awaits. Sometimes, you might want to cut the trip short in the middle as you just wish to go back home for that companionship. Now, that’s an ugly solo travel situation you don’t want to find yourself in.
The solution here is simple! Travel with your better half or a buddy, or your family.
“But that’s not solo travel”, I hear you whine – well, maybe you’re not cut out for it.
“Maybe I’m not, but I’d like to be cut out for it”, you sheepishly retort – well, have you considered we live in the 21st Century and all of us own a smartphone? Just nip into a cafe or your hotel with free wi-fi access and give your favorite people a call if you’re lonely, jeez!
12. You are the ONLY Solo Traveler at your Destination
Solo traveling is fantastic. But when you are the only solo traveler in a place full of families, groups, and couples, it will undoubtedly get awkward.
Such a situation will not only make you want your partner or friends close, but it might even lead you to feel jealous. Plus, it just makes it harder to meet new people there because you’ll always be the third wheel.
If you find yourself in such a predicament, just relax and concentrate on what brought you here; SOLO travel. Try reminding yourself of the good that comes with traveling solo.
You don’t want everyone staring at you because they can sense your loneliness. It might make everything even weirder.
Top Solo Travel Tips
Check out the following tips for a successful loner’s trip.
1. Planning Your Trip
One of the best things you can do before solo travel is to plan your trip early. This will help you avoid any stressful situations while you’re on your trip.
2. Packing Light
The second secret is to pack light. This way, you’ll not have to lug around a heavy suitcase or backpack.
3. Get Travel Insurance
Now, this one is crucial for both solo travelers and group travelers – getting a travel insurance cover. Since you can never be too sure of what the trip holds for you, it’s always prudent to be safe.
You should always protect yourself against medical problems and emergencies, loss of luggage, or loss of money due to flight cancellations. TravelInsurance.com offers incredible cover options for you and your family.
3. Bringing a Map
It might be weird when you keep asking for direction. It’s even worse when you get lost and waste a lot of time trying to locate your destination. Therefore, always carry a map to help orient you to unfamiliar surroundings.
4. Being Aware of Your Surroundings
Always be keen on what surrounds you – whether people or the environment. There is no better way to stay safe in a new place than always being conscious of what’s happening around you. You can never be overcautious.
5. Talking to People
Lastly, try talking to people, both locals, and other solo travelers. It is an excellent way to meet new people and learn about different cultures. This is made so much easier if you have learned some of the local lingo of your destinations.