Since I’ve become more immersed in the travel community worldwide, I have noticed how polarizing solo travel is to people. Some people think it’s utterly preposterous, and some can’t go a month without a solo trip. I’m of the mindset “you do you”...which is how I live most of my life and how my brain has come to work. It works for me. The first trip I took by myself was hardly given any thought. I just booked it. I was living in Atlanta, GA, had been in a seriously rocky and dysfunctional relationship, and knew the necessity of taking a solo trip for myself. I booked a trip to London, because why not? Sometimes you just need to go. My thought was “it’s far away, and they speak English.” Booked. Off I went, and it was the beginning of a great appreciation for traveling alone (but not lonely).
Enjoying a beer at a brewery in Natchez, MS
It’s a Confidence Builder
Staying in one’s comfort zone is kind of lame, right? What is life all about? Learning. Exploring. Enjoying new things. It’s not to say that old things are not enjoyable, but mixing it up creates that old adage “variety is the spice of life.” Because it is. I happen to like a big combination of both. I love my morning and evening routines, but I also love that I don’t know exactly what will pop into my brain on any given day and what I might do with that thought. When I discovered solo traveling (because it popped into my brain and I acted on it - sometimes you don’t need to mull things over for years) I saw how much stronger it made me. It gave me confidence. That silly, stupid, emotionally wrecked guy I was dating propelled me to leave, but what I gained while traveling alone gave me the elixir that I needed to tell him to f*** off ultimately. How could that have been a bad thing?
You Get to Know Yourself Better
What better way to get to know who you are than to take yourself on a whole trip. By yourself! Yes, some people would rather eat rocks than sit with themselves for more than 23 seconds, but I guarantee, you might be better company than you think. When I go on solo trips, I like to take a book (I do Kindle
), and I also take my iPad
to do some journaling. I have almost completely abandoned all paper because I am a digital gal all the way. Back to the book idea, though. Take a book that will help you grow into yourself. I have tons of recommendations
that will help you give yourself some space...for yourself. You might even like hanging out with yourself (and maybe hanging out with your pets, like I do) better than anyone else on the planet. After years of self-criticizing, I realized finally that I am my best friend. I can always count on me to be there. That is definitely something I have learned from taking a solo trip.
Have a Conversation with a Stranger
You’re not 3 years old anymore, my friend. I’m not saying to go out when you’re smashed at 2 am and have someone cajole you into something nefarious because you don’t have your wits about you. I’m saying that when you’re traveling by yourself, you might be open to meeting people who potentially are pretty awesome. It’s doubtful I would’ve ever met my friend, who I’ll call Regina to keep her identity private, if I had gone to Salem, MA with someone. Regina and I were both in a museum at the same time. I asked her to take a photo of me doing something silly, and we found out that we were on the same tour at the same time that evening. We went on said tour, then went to dinner. Although we didn’t speak for another year, I ended up joining her virtual book club
that was life-changing. She was a gift that I got from simply taking a trip by myself. Consider it, friends. Open yourself up to the possibility of amazing strangers. They may just become lifelong friends.
Hooray! No one to interject!
No One is Chiming in with Their Own Annoying Interests
Is there anything worse than sacrificing part of your trip for someone else’s needs or wants? This may come across as selfish, but guess what? It’s ok to be selfish sometimes. No one has been jailed for that as far as I know. I’ll give you an example. My husband and I are very different travelers. He frequently likes to take midday naps. This isn’t just on vacation, either. I hate napping. But when you go on a trip with someone, sometimes you end up doing what each other wants even if one doesn’t want to. It’s that herd mentality that we all fall victim to at times. When he wants to go take a nap, it makes me seethe! Why would he want to sleep when he has so much exploring to do? When traveling alone, nothing like that happens. And hell, maybe I want to take a nap when I’m traveling alone. No one will ever know!
Merlin and me planning my next solo trip
Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About
People love to cast their opinions of solo travelers. The ones who don’t have the guts to do it love to act like you’re out of your mind. Most are jealous. Some are too insecure. Some have partners that “wouldn’t permit it.” No thanks! I am not that person. You don’t have to be either. You’re stronger than you think. You’re more capable than you think. Taking a solo trip is a great way to prove that to yourself, and to others. Not that I ever think a person should do things to prove something to someone. Let’s be real, though. We all do it. I love the surprise when I tell people I’m going somewhere alone. It gives me the giggles and validates my independence and strength as a woman and as an adult. If people are going to talk about me, I hope it’s because of stuff like this. So let’s give those suckers something to talk about, shall we?
Dreaming about my future wine consumption
I’m Sure There Are Other Reasons, But….
I don’t need to give you any. These are enough to get you going. Don’t feel obligated to put yourself on a plane to Europe as your inaugural solo trip. Perhaps a little road trip 1-2 hours away would be perfect for you. Maybe even a “staycation” in your own city. A lunch out by yourself? Anything to do by yourself would be pretty awesome. You’ll get to ask yourself all sorts of interesting questions. The best part is that you can answer them honestly. Uh oh! Now we’re cooking with fire! My encouragement is sincere, friends. Do yourself the pleasure of once, just once, taking yourself on the most epic journey and taking a solo trip. In fact, I think I’m going to go plan my next one now. Thank you for giving me that idea!