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
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
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
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?