I feel like my LIFE is awkward – Welcome to the whimsical world of awkward Solo travel Moments!
Originally I started my solo travelers, just you holidays out of pure necessity. I wanted to travel and no one could or would go with me, so I just bit the bullet, did some awkward solo travel, and had a blast. Now, ever since, being part of the solo travelers club has been my preferred means of global discovery. Now, I am not going to go into why I think it’s awesome, I have a billion posts about that here. But, what I am going to talk about is all those awkward solo travel moments that you have when you are one among the many solo travelers in the world.
You know, those times when a travel buddy could really come in handy, but instead you are forced to beg some rando (New Yorker slang for random for all those who don’t speak “Kelly”) stranger for help because you’re alone and have no one to turn to (starting to sound a bit melodramatic aren’t we). Yeah, those are the moments when you have to make forced, uncomfortable conversation with someone you don’t know and will never see again (#awesome). You want to be nice and not just use them for help, but at the same time you don’t really know them and just want them to help you so that you can run right back into your cocoon (I call it my adult blanket fort with full and unlimited Netflix capabilities). And even though I typically go on just you holidays where I partake in some awkward solo travel, it still always feels SUPER awkward. Its like there is this war in my mind between asking for help and not wanting to bother anyone or talk to random strangers (Maybe this is a byproduct of me watching way too much Investigation Discovery). As a result, I have some comically awkward solo travel moments that are a direct result of my self-imposed, travel isolation (or better known as awkward solo travel moments). So laugh with me (not at me) and check out my 10 awkward Solo Travel Moments (Not ready for awkward solo travel? That’s okay because sites like here offer great group tours for solo travelers).
1. When it’s that time of the month and you run out of feminine hygiene products (Tampons, pads, whatever. Feminine hygiene products sounds so overly scientific when dealing with Aunt Flo)
Normally you would just yell out to your friend for help. I mean women always travel to the bathroom in packs anyway (Strength in numbers. Besides, you never leave a member of the wolf pack behind. That’s an order), so clearly your friend will be standing right there and can help you out. But what do you do when you are down a tampon and there is no one with you? Do you create a make shift feminine hygiene product or do you awkwardly ask the person in the stall next to you, who may or may not speak English, for help? But if you do ask a stranger for help, what if it is a huge culturally faux pas to discus, “that time of month”? Will I offend an entire culture by mentioning that which may be unmentionable to others? I just don’t know! It is one of the eternal, highly philosophical struggles that us solo female travelers deal with on the regular and is just a downright, awkward solo travel moment. That’s why I amass a ton of these products before i even leave home , to avoid this very moment (think hoarders buried alive and you’ll know how thoroughly I stock my backpack. Minus the rats. Wild ones gross me out).
2. Putting sunscreen on your back
Hey there you fine looking person that I have never met in my life! See I’m a part of the new solo travelers movement and do some just you holidays around the world. Do you want to prove that human decency is not in fact dead? Great because I am Casper the Ghost white and will actually develop Melanoma if I don’t rigorously apply sunscreen to every inch of my body. Can you possibly spare 20 minutes of your life (I have a lot of freckles there) to apply sunscreen to the parts of my back that I just can’t reach (I’m vertically challenged so its a chronic problem)? I would do it myself but I hate yoga and am so not flexible enough to get my whole back. That and my dad had melanoma and I really need to careful in the sun and…
Talk about too much information. At this point, if the person does speak English, they are going to pretend like they don’t just to get away from you. And if you think that you can ask some hot Abercrombie and Fitch model to help lather you up, think again. It never works out that way. They usually have girlfriends. Nine times out of ten you just end up begging the AARP card carrying man next to you for help as he smiles grossly and undressed you with his eyes (you silently pray that this moment passes quickly). Oh the joys of being on the verge of becoming an Albino.
3. Watching your stuff at the beach
Who doesn’t love the beach? The fun, the surf, the sand, that awkward solo travel moment where you don’t know what to do with your valuables because you have no one to watch them while you go in the water. Sure, you could sit there and watch them, if you want to die of heat stroke (solo travelers problems). You could also throw caution to the wind and hit the waves. But then you risk the not so exhilarating possibility of being stranded at the beach and being mistaken for a homeless person (we call this bag lady chic).
My solution? Bring as few valuables to the beach as possible and bury them in the sand (Like my cellphone. I have to take it with me everywhere and no way is some thieving mofo getting my brand spanking new iPhone).
But if I do this, my anxiety kicks in the second I hop in the water. What if the thief was watching me and knows all my tricks? What if I lose my phone and get lost and have no way to contact anyone and end up on the evening news as a missing person ( I so not look good on a milk carton!)? But what if no one knows I’m missing because I’m traveling and then I slowly starve to death (did I mention I take anti-anxiety medication? Shocking I know). So I guess the moral of the story is that when you’re doing awkward solo travel on one of your just you holidays, it’s not just a relaxing jaunt at the beach since solo travelers problems follow you wherever you go.
4. Saving your place in line
You’re just sitting there, minding your own business, waiting in an insanely long line for some iconic site that you have to see because well, if you don’t then it’s like you didn’t even visit that place at all. You’ve been doing so well until about an hour in, and that’s when mother nature hits. You’re either hungry, have to pee like a race horse, or feel like you are in the Sahara, dying of thirst.
Whatever it may be, all you want to do is quickly hop in and out of the line so that you can address your fundamental, biological needs. But then you remember, “Oh yeah, I’m doing some awkward solo travel. Who is gonna watch my place in line? Another one of the not so plentiful solo travelers?” Sure, you can hope that someone in line is nice enough to save your place, but what if they don’t speak English or they are just mean?
You never know, you could be waiting on line to see the Eiffel Tower with a convicted felon. I mean, they might want to see the world through awkward solo travel too right? So do you suck it up and squirm your way through the line that feels like it just got ten times longer? Or, do you face the fear of this awkward solo travel moment and ask for help from some random stranger? It’s gut check time. What do you do? Honestly, unless it is like defcon five and I am going to spontaneously combust, I try and avoid random interactions with strangers. But that’s just me. I’m weird like that and hate asking for help (#girlwiththepassportproblems).
5. Going to the bathroom
I mean, it’s not like you need an entourage or a buddy system to rock the bathroom, so why is it so awkward? Well, what if you get off the plane and need to go to the bathroom because it’s been a long flight and let’s face it, airplane bathrooms are cramped and suck. Plus, who knows which passengers just became members of the mile high club? Gross. But, what are you gonna do with your stuff? I mean, you can’t just leave it outside. So you lug it all in the bathroom, almost take out someone’s eye as you try and maneuver yourself into the stall, and then look and want to cry because there’s no hook on the back of the bathroom door. So now you have to put your bag on the filthy floor that is covered in toilet water spillage. Gross. Like I’m in a race, I expertly try and do my thing, to minimize my bag’s exposure to the bacteria infested, bathroom floor. However, I am super clumsy and narrowly escape face planting on the floor.
The other awesomely awful bathroom moment is at a restaurant. What do you do with your stuff? Do you leave it there? What if someone steals it? But if you take all your stuff, will they think you are trying to leave without paying the bill? You can leave a sweatshirt but what if it’s the summer? I can’t handle the pressure! Make the awkwardness go away!
6. Getting your luggage out of the overhead carry on bin (especially if you’re short and on just you holidays)
Look, I am all, “woman hear me roar” and, “I can do anything a man can”, but that doesn’t help me with my height. Sadly, I am so short that my elementary school basketball team got me a special basketball hoop that was just my size (True story). Therefore, I cannot reach the overhead bin for the life of me. But I also don’t want to ask the creeper next to me for help because I literally just saw him picking his nose.
Do I act like a spider monkey and scale my seat to get my stuff from the overhead bin? Well, I have done this and when I reach out for my bag, which is always heavier than I remember, on my tippy toes and not so expertly yank at it, BOOM, I get smacked right in the face with my monstrous bag (I knew I should have left that damn hair dryer at home). Talk about awkward. Now I’m that loser that just smacked herself in the face and gave herself a black eye. But to add insult to injury, you look over and see that some insanely hot guy is laughing under his breath. Happy vacation indeed. Grr, solo travel, why have you forsaken me?
7. Avoiding male creepers
Like the animal world, in girl world there is always strength in numbers. I find that if I am with other people, it generally scares the creepers away and keeps them at bay. But as soon as I set foot on a street as one of the many solo travelers in the world, it is like the most maladjusted people find me, like a moth to a flame. It’s never anyone normal. It’s always some guy named sparkle who has an imaginary pet monkey that he wants you to feed a banana.
It is such an awkward solo travel moment and all you want to do is run away, but then what if he follows you? Plus, I feel like they are like sharks or Tigers and can smell fear the fear of solo travelers on just you holidays. Show fear and they pounce on it and then you’ll never get away. It’s moments like these when you’re like, “Dear God where is my wing woman when I need her?” Trust me , traveling alone is not a great man deterrent, especially for the crazy ones (welcome to my life. It’s always awkward, even when I don’t travel alone).
8. Eating Alone (An especially awkward solo travel moment if there is no wifi)
Oh hey, who doesn’t love sitting there, watching all the couples and families chat away, while you’re just staring at the four walls. Sure, you could make a fort out of the complimentary bread on the table, but you’re not four and that wouldn’t be super socially acceptable (but now you get where kids are coming from).
Normally, you would ask for the wifi password, but the waiter was surly so not like you are gonna ask for anything above and beyond food and water. Besides, you need to shoot up an emergency flare just to get the guy to walk by your table. Or, my other favorite awkward situation is when they give you the wifi password and it doesn’t work. You type it in like twelve times, hoping against hope that you got a capital letter wrong or something, but no luck. That’s when you start to play with your phone and pretend like you’re doing something important, even though you can’t be because you have no WIFI, but whatever, all the non-awkward people around you don’t have to know that. Maybe next time you’ll sit at the bar and beg the bartender to be your pseudo friend for the duration of the meal.
9. Getting Lost
The total worst when you are all alone. I always have visions that someone is gonna dart out from behind a wall and pillage me. I mean sure, that’s probably just my dad’s insane anxiety rubbing off on me, or all that Law and Order sinking in, but either way, there is no one there to make it fun. It’s just annoying and then your feet hurt. Plus, you have to try and avoid stranger danger as you search out for someone nice and normal looking to give you directions.
I wanna shout out, “Hey, any non-thieves want to help me find my way? I’ll give you a cookie and my eternal love and devotion, for the 2.5 minutes that we actually interact with each other! No? Come on guys, I even said please!’ It also gets even more awkward when you keep passing the same stores or people and you know they’re looking at you funny and thinking, “What’s up with her?” I swear, I have no imaginary friends. I’m super normal. If you want crazy see the guy who just harassed me down the street. He needed help finding his imaginary monkey and said something about Leslie Chow (Hangover anyone)?
***Maps.me is a great app that you can use to get directions even when you don’t have wifi.
10. That moment when you tell someone that you’re part of the solo travelers club and they give you that funny look that means they think you are a total weirdo (Hey, I have friends. I swear. They may be invisible but they’re nice)
The worst! People always ask, “Oh, who are you here with?” And once I have assessed that they are not an immediate danger to my health and well being, I then tell the truth and say that I am traveling alone. And that’s when the awkwardness ensues. First comes the lopsided glance that seems to spit out, “What is wrong with you? That’s so weird?” They then slowly back away as if you are some social pariah who is gonna give them Leprosy. I wanna be like, “Don’t judge me! This is 2017, like really? Why is it so weird that I want to travel alone? I see you judging me with your eyes and I don’t need that kind of negativity. I’m on vacation.” I know, I’m super sensitive about it but I hate being treated like a freak who has no one to like her enough to go on vacation. I mean I swear, I do have some friends, even if they are all online (lol). I know, super sensitive about this one but hate the judgement and the awkwardness. I’m just a girl, traveling alone, who just wants to have a fun vacation (judgement free, way to be).
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So now that you’ve read about all my awkward solo travel moments from my solo travelers life, aren’t you glad you’re not me? Sometimes I feel like my life is a series of awkward moments that are amplified when I am away from home and don’t know the language or rules, and refuse to ask for help. Yeah, that’s when the funniness begins during my just you holidays (At least afterwards. At the time, my mistakes don’t really feel that funny) For some solo travelers tips click here or research your next trip on lonelyplanet.