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Why You Need to Travel Solo (Even Though You Might Not Have To)

Posted By in Travel Musings | 12 comments

Why You Need to Travel Solo (Even Though You Might Not Have To)

I don’t get to write about solo female travel very often. It isn’t really my niche. If you read my blog regularly or even skim my About page, you know that I travel with my partner, Brent, about 95% of the time.

When I do travel alone, I find myself approaching each new solo trip like a wobbly-kneed calf taking its first steps. By the end of the trip, however, I always feel intoxicatingly empowered, filled with more faith in myself than ever before. Here’s why I carve out some time each year to travel alone (even though I don’t have to) and why you should too!

To Meet More People

travel solo to meet more people

When I travel solo, I probably talk to more strangers in a single day than I do in a week when I’m traveling with Brent. Whether I’m on a plane or at a market, people just seem to approach me more often when I’m traveling alone. I’m still not entirely sure why this is the case – I guess couples or a pair of friends come across as a closed-off unit, whereas a person traveling alone seems more accessible.

If I’d been traveling with Brent, I wouldn’t have spent the afternoon waiting for a bus with a Norwegian woman and chatted about her plans to sail to the Canary Islands; or practiced my Japanese with the cashier in an incense shop and talked about the time she visited Canada.

And ultimately, talking to strangers – whether they’re other travelers or locals – is what travel is really all about. Landscapes and monuments can be impactful, of course, but I think the real reason we all travel is to meet people with different perspectives and connect with cultures unlike our own. Traveling solo helps you do more of that.

To Prove That You Can

travel solo to prove you can

It’s no secret that the world views solo female travel differently than any other kind of travel. When I tell my friends and family that Brent and I are planning our next destination, they’re inspired; but when I tell them that I alone am planning to travel somewhere, they’re concerned.

To be honest, so am I sometimes.

Almost every time I travel alone, there’s at least some point each day when I think: “I can’t do this.” Solo travel can be intimidating, particularly when you’re an introvert like me. I miss the comfort of turning to Brent to confirm “We’re on the right train, right?”; or being able to laugh off an awkward encounter or stupid mistake together.

But you know what? The only way to overcome the fear of traveling alone (or any other fear for that matter) is to just do it anyway.  Even though I feel scared, I commit – I book the ticket and I make myself go. It’s only when I force myself to travel alone that I realize I’m completely capable of doing it. It’s a powerful reminder that the only barriers stopping me from doing anything in life are the ones I create for myself.

To Change Your Perspective

travel solo to change your perspective

When I travel with Brent, I’m exuberant. I ramble on, describing everything I love about wherever we are and excitedly making plans about what we should do or see next. But when I travel alone, it’s quiet – almost reverent. I can tune into the subtle nuances of the place I’m visiting and get a clearer sense of how it makes me feel to be there.

The whole “Eat, Pray, Love” quest may be a cliché at this point, but there’s some truth to it and there’s a reason why this kind of story resonates with so many of us. When you travel alone, there’s nothing but you, the destination, and your thoughts. A deeper self-discovery arises from that solitude that you can’t really experience when you’re traveling with someone.

As cheesy as it might sound, when I travel with someone I fall in love with the world; but when I travel alone, I also fall in love with myself.

And that’s why you need to travel solo – at least sometimes.

 

Do you make time to travel alone? Why do you do it?

 

12 Comments

  1. amiechristo October 29, 2014

    The majority of the travelling I've done has been solo travel and maybe that makes me biased, but I really don't understand people's hesitancy towards solo travel. For the reasons you listed above and so many more, it's been great. Not to say I don't like travelling with others, but my favourite thing to do is meet new people and as you said: being a solo traveller seems to open that up even more.
    My recent post Seville: A Food Post

    • waysofwanderers October 29, 2014

      I guess because it can feel intimidating – especially if you've only traveled with friends/as a couple before. There's a safety in bringing someone familiar to an unfamiliar place. If something goes wrong, you know that there's someone there to brainstorm a solution with. I guess that's part of why it still freaks me out (even though deep down I enjoy it), and I think it's the same for a lot of people who haven't tried it before.

      • amiechristo October 29, 2014

        I can definitely see/understand that and there have been times when it is just easier to have someone else there, but I do think people end up imagining all the worst things that can happen while you're travelling that they can forget that the things they hear about are not the majority of experiences. Especially if you take a look at all the solo female bloggers that there are these days, you can definitely see that it's doable and, sometimes, is only as scary as you let it be.
        My recent post Seville: A Food Post

        • waysofwanderers October 29, 2014

          Totally! I think a lot of people jump into worse-case-scenario mode (especially when it comes to solo females), but these instances are definitely the vast minority.

  2. Allison Dawdy October 29, 2014

    Very insightful Jess xo Mom

  3. Joe Dawdy October 29, 2014

    …hi sweetheart….a beautifully written little piece of yourself….xox….vati

  4. Rocky Travel Blog October 30, 2014

    I love your post and as solo traveller who travels alone by 90% of the time I agree with you that when it makes you fall in love with yourself. But I love it also because I get to know a lot of strangers and make new friends along the way!

  5. Dan Perry October 30, 2014

    I totally agree with this post. Traveling solo opens yourself up to all sorts of interesting experiences. One more benefit: If you have a partner and travel solo for a while, then when you come home, you'll appreciate having that special someone in your life even more.

    • waysofwanderers October 31, 2014

      Agreed! As I mentioned, I usually travel with my partner and it's actually kind of nice for us to have some time apart once in a while and get some space!

  6. Lina December 5, 2016

    I love it!!! This is exactly what i need.

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