Travelling solo brings numerous exciting benefits that can completely transform an experience. It allows us to travel completely free from those frustrating constraints of thinking and worrying about another person.
Travelling solo allows us to grow in ways that are impossible when we rely on others around us – both for comfort and assistance while on the move.
However, it’s important to differentiate between travelling solo and being alone. The first can lead to substantial personal growth, while the second can sometimes lead to loneliness and isolation.
If only there was a way to find somewhere comfortably between the two – where you travel solo but enjoy the benefits of having people close by and a support system for when you need it.
Why travel solo?
Travelling is an intoxicating drug that has the potential to change us completely. Mark Twain hit the nail on the head when he said, “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.”
Yet while travelling can destroy our negative views of the world, it is the personal growth that many find the most rewarding. Travel doesn’t come with a manual, and its effects will be different for everybody, but you’d be hard-pressed to find somebody with an entirely negative view of this enthralling way to spend a small portion of your life.
The age-old question has always been whether it’s better to travel solo or with others, but there has never been, nor will there ever be, a definitive answer to this puzzle. Sharing travel experiences with loved ones adds layers to the experience that are out of reach while travelling solo, while being able to support each other during difficult times is an undeniable benefit.
And yet, if it’s growth you’re looking for, whether to build up confidence, step outside your comfort zones, test yourself, or discover who you really are, travelling solo is the best way to do it. Each day comes with challenges you must face and overcome, providing you with the space to clear your mind away from the constant chatter and social pressures. Travelling solo is not always easy, but the rewards are substantial and life-changing.
Challenges with travelling solo
You might have guessed that we’re big proponents of solo travel, but it would be utterly amiss of us not to highlight some potential problems and how we at UWalk work with you to overcome them.
Landing in a strange country where you don’t speak the language can be unnerving, even for seasoned travellers. While it’s certainly an obstacle that can be overcome, we don’t want initial negative experiences to colour an experience. It’s unfair to assume that everybody has a backpack filled with travel bravado. For those with a limited travel repertoire, it can be an enormous help to have a friendly face with you in the early stages to help you acclimatise.
People also worry about loneliness when travelling solo, a fear that is not only perfectly justified, but one that everybody experiences, whether they admit it or not. Humans are social creatures, and while we can benefit enormously from spending time alone, life is all the more enriching when we can spend those sparkling moments with others. Here are a few ways Uwalk provides solo travel experiences without being alone.
Optional Shared Rooms
We provide the option to share a room each night with a fellow walker of the same gender. This is entirely optional, with many relishing having a space to themselves, especially if you’re getting away from that snoring husband for the week, but we also understand that some enjoy the camaraderie that comes with sharing a room. Note that there is a single-person occupancy supplement of €195.
Meet & Greet on Arrival
Walking out into an arrival hall in a strange airport can be both thrilling and completely unnerving. We aim to remove the stress from this situation by ensuring a smiling face is waiting for you as you walk through those sliding doors, who will be able to answer any immediate questions you might have.
Arrival Airport Transfer
Sorting out how you are going to get from A to B in a place you’ve never been and using the decaying scraps of that secondary school Spanish you learned decades ago isn’t exactly a relaxing way to ease into an unfamiliar environment.
Luckily, UWalk takes care of all that, meaning that you are greeted not only by a smiling face but also by someone you can rely on completely to get you to your first hotel quickly and efficiently. Just sit back, and enjoy the ride.
Welcome Dinner & Briefing
The first night in a new place is often intimidating . Excitement about what lies ahead is usually mixed with a healthy dose of the collywobbles as the brain begins its annoying habit of hunting out every possible worst-case scenario. What if I don’t make any friends along the way? What if I get lost? Did I bring the right amount and quality of the equipment? And everybody’s favourite, what if a giant man-eating bear (no, they don’t exist on our routes) appears in the woods!?
Our brain is forever scanning for potential dangers, so many of these questions are reasonable to consider. Still, it can become all too easy for the mind to descend into a whirlpool of negativity.
To address these first-night wobbles, we provide a welcome dinner that allows you to meet the others in the group with whom you’ll be sharing the Camino. And let’s be honest, plonk a group of strangers down with some fine food and a few bottles of the local vino, and it’s only a matter of time until friendships blossom.
After dinner, we also provide a briefing by our local guides, who will outline the week ahead and give you a clear idea of the walking you’ll be doing each day. This is the perfect opportunity to ask questions and settle those last-minute nerves before departure the following day.
You’re Never Alone on the Camino
Whether you find your friendship soulmate at the welcome dinner and walk every step of the way together or begin each day solo, you’re never alone on the Camino de Santiago. While some days and sections are quieter than others, the Way of St James is always alive with hundreds, if not thousands, of people doing exactly as you are.
Making new friends in real life can be awkward and challenging, but it’s absurdly easy on the Camino de Santiago. There’s something about the spirit of the endeavour that allows people to open up faster than back home, and it’s not uncommon to fall in step with a fellow pilgrim and immediately feel like you can tell them anything.
This is the beauty of the Camino. There are no rules or ways that things should be done. If you want to walk alone for a few hours, go ahead. If you’d prefer to walk with somebody and have a good natter along the route, that’s another option. Walking the Camino de Santiago is something we must all do by ourselves in that it is a personal journey, but it’s also an experience shared with countless like-minded people. You walk solo, but you’re never really alone.