June 13, 2024

Why to Travel Solo: Unexpected Joys

Solo travel is a hot topic. For us solo travelers, we can’t imagine or understand a world where people don’t want to travel alone. I mean…you get to do whatever you want whenever you want. No one is stopping you! Solo travel almost becomes a necessity for our mental health. For those who can’t imagine being alone for one minute, much less an entire trip, it sounds like utter hell. I’m here to tell you about some of the chance meetings I’ve had while traveling by myself because they are just delightful. Some of these stories may encourage you answer your question of why to travel solo. There is no way I ever would have experienced these things had I been with another person, so I’m grateful that I have the desire to go it alone occasionally. Let’s see what fun I have gotten up to on solo trips.

One of the Only Photos I Have from 2005 London

London - 2005 - 25 Years Old

My first solo travel jaunt was no joke. I was living in Atlanta, single, and making enough money to travel to places beyond my proverbial backyard. While I was looking into going to the west coast, I realized that I could book a trip across the pond as Los Angeles, so off I went, to London. Almost 20 years later, I don’t remember the details of how I got from point A to point B, but I did. Somehow I managed to get around London, ride the tube, walk around, take a cab. The trip was so incredibly healthy for me. I dined alone, saw my first Broadway play (The Lion King), and smoked a freshly rolled cigarette from a complete stranger at a bar (and I didn’t smoke). There may have also been wine involved and profuse vomiting later that night at my hotel. Prior to that fateful night, some guy from Mexico that I met who lived there in London took me around to Harrod’s, and we hung out for a couple of days. We said we’d keep in touch, but I dropped the ball - we never got past his email to me after I came back to the states. The trip made me realize why to travel solo: to grow. That will be a theme of every single trip I’ve ever done alone, and why I continue to go on them.

On a Beach in Brazil, and Blonde

Brazil - 2006 - 26 Years Old

So this trip wasn’t actually alone, but it did start out that way. When I started planning my trip to Brazil, a friend of mine decided to jump on board. I had “met” some of the Brazilians that I worked with through IBM while living in Atlanta, and all of them told me numerous times that they would welcome me with open arms if I chose to visit. Not shying away from worldwide travel, I took one particular guy up on that offer. My friend and I booked flights, and off to Brazil we went. It was the beginning of my love story with my first husband. The trip was a smashing success, I completely lost myself in everything Brazil, and ended up marrying my host. Our marriage was relatively short-lived, but my memories of that trip will go on forever. Being open to experiences helps you understand why to travel solo. You never know what is going to happen. I have no regrets, and I still hear from my former in-laws now and then, and I love that. Relationships are built through openness to travel.

Santa Monica Pier

Southern California - Various Times in My Life

Southern California became part of my regular solo travel early on in my career. I discovered it through traveling there for some accounts I sold to while working at IBM, and I was totally hooked. My love for L.A. and San Diego grew each time I went there and has not yet waned. It was a sacred place that I would go without a travel partner, either visiting friends or being on my own and gave me many reasons of why to travel solo. I’ve had so many enjoyable experiences, from visits to the Santa Monica Pier to beaches at night with people I barely know. Yes, there are always risks to going places with people you’re not familiar with, but what’s life without some risk? My trips to Southern California will surely continue as the years go on. In fact, I think I’m due for a trip out that way soon.

Risa and Me After Our Impromptu Dinner

Salem, MA - 2021 - 41 Years Old

This was a trip I’ll never forget! Well, they are all unforgettable in some way, but I remain close to someone I met on this trip. When deciding where to go on a solo adventure, I realized that I wanted something safe plus walkable. I hadn’t spent much time in the north east of the United States, so I decided on Salem. Since I’m not into big crowds, I decided to go the weekend after the big Halloween festivities. Surely they would still have the vibe going, and I didn’t have to get trampled by 500,000 witches. During my visit, I stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast and I walked all over town. While visiting the Peabody Essex Museum, I asked a woman to take my photograph. Turns out, she was also traveling alone there, and she was on the same evening tour as I was. This, my friends, is why to travel solo. Risa and I went to dinner after the tour, have done a book club together, and are now in a creative collective group that meets virtually with two other women every other week. This would never have happened if I were there with another person.

Just Me and the Louvre

Paris - 2022 - 41 Years Old

Paris was a chance solo trip, at least part of the trip. My (then) husband and I were scheduled to go to Paris during the downturn of the pandemic, and France was a bit all over the place with their restrictions. Turns out, my husband didn’t have the latest vaccination, so he had to stay behind until his kicked in. No problem for me - I won’t turn down some alone time on any trip. So, off I went to Paris without him. The trip kicked off really rough. There were plane delays and a maniac passenger sitting next to me who couldn’t believe his bad luck of being bumped down to coach. (I was as well, but I handled it much better.) Things were not going great, but I was going to Paris. They could’ve tied me to the wing of the plane and I think I would’ve been fine at that point. When I arrived in Paris, I felt home. Paris is my favorite city in the entire world, and I was just glad to be there. While I didn’t meet anyone in particular during my time alone there, I was faced with food poisoning. That alone will show you who you are and how to handle things. You meet YOURSELF in a whole different way. It was one of the most humbling experiences of my life, but the whole trip was a big start of what became me monetizing my photography. I also proved to myself that I can get through anything on my own if I have to, and by golly I sure did. I’m not saying this should be the reason of why to travel solo, but facing hardship while traveling definitely builds character. And I have a lot of that!

Solo Trip to Portland

Portland, ME - 2024 - Turned 44 Years Old While There

Wow, was this trip a soul-quenching, gut-wrenching experience. Coming off of a second marriage (not quite divorced), I was going to this place with the hopes of falling in love with it. I went thinking I may want to move there, but I found myself hating it. The first two days I did not want to not leave the hotel, although I forced myself to leave. I walked around, familiarized myself with different locations around town, and snapped photos all over the place. My camera was my best friend. The third night I was there, I was scheduled to go to one of the islands, so to the ferry I went, got on, and landed on Great Diamond Island. While walking the island with my BFF (my Sony camera), I saw a man who might know what the only abandoned building might be. John was a wealth of knowledge, and he invited me to come see the (downstairs) of his house to show me some old photos from when the island was an army base. We had the most adorable meet cute, and my older new friend even found me online and emailed me. Not because he's a creep, but because he wanted me to know how much he enjoyed me. This, my friends, is why to travel solo. But it doesn’t end here.

While I was on the island, I decided to eat at the bar of one of the two restaurants on the entire island. Afterwards, as it was raining, two ladies invited me to ride back on a golf cart with them to the hotel. Of course I would. They then asked where I am from, and upon telling them New Orleans, they gasped. Their afternoon was spent with a man from New Orleans who also did historical tours of the island. I asked who it was, they told me his name. Lo and behold, I sure did know Charles from New Orleans. I went back to my room, emailed him, and woke up to an email with a confirmed coffee the next morning. And guess what? I got a private tour of the history of the island with Charles until the second I loaded up on the ferry to go back to Portland. Friends, what other reason do you need to answer your question of why to travel solo? None!

Be Brave and Do It Anyway

There are countless reasons of why to travel solo. I’ve given you some fun stories of mine to inspire you. The unknown is my favorite part of any trip I go on, but sometimes it's also the scariest. I wonder who I’ll meet, what I'll do, and how this trip will change my life, if at all. Making oneself available by being alone is not only vulnerable, it’s brave. I do consider myself a brave person, but it’s because I just do the thing. What’s the worst that can happen, anyway? Someone isn’t that interested in talking back? Move on, it’s ok. You get food poisoning? You go this. Going on a solo trip, I promise, is one of the most liberating things you can ever do. The chance meetups, the discomfort, the freedom. Take the good with the bad, but it's mostly good. Don't let fear get the best of you. And hey, you and I just might meet on one of these jaunts, and is there any better reason of why to travel solo? I don't think there is. Let's do this. Now go book your ticket!

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