So you want to go on a trip but have no one to travel with? Please, please, please don’t let that stop you from traveling! I’m here to tell you that solo travel can actually be one of the most rewarding ways to travel.
Ok, I get it. This is not something most people do. But why? Because all of the solo travelers I meet out there on my travels absolutely love it. I have yet to meet a woman who’s regretted her decision of traveling alone. I admire these women so much. If you’re wondering whether or not you should make the move to plan a solo trip, let me help you out. Let’s first address what’s likely on your mind (safety? loneliness?). Then let’s talk about all the benefits of this unique experience.
What are the threats?
In a lot of people’s minds, solo travel isn’t even considered as an option due to reasons related to how it will “probably” being boring, lonely and unsafe. There is nothing further from the truth.
Why is the world so afraid of solo female travel? Everyone watches the news, and I’m assuming a lot of us have also watched Taken. There are so many reported cases of women getting robbed, scammed, pickpocketed, kidnapped, raped, or worse. With all of this stuff in the media, it’s no surprise that women are often told that they should never walk alone, hike alone, or travel alone.
These threats are all very possible, to both women and men alike. Being women, we’re more susceptible to being targeted. Does this mean that women ultimately shouldn’t travel alone? Of course not! It just means that there are a few extra precautions that we have to take in order to ensure our safety (most of which you’re probably already doing).
If you really think about it, these threats are all very possible at home too. So, if you know how to walk around safely and take care of yourself in your hometown, why wouldn’t you be able to do that in another country? It’s the same thing! Stay vigilant, wherever you are.
I would say being alone abroad is even less scary than being alone at home. Here’s why: chances are you’re going to densely populated areas where you’ll encounter people willing to help you, many other fellow travelers, and tons of eyewitnesses to prevent anything really bad from happening.
Why you shouldn’t be afraid.
If you’re hesitant because of safety concerns, read above. If you’re afraid of being lonely and/or feeling alone, please refer to the solo travel benefits section below. If you couldn’t tell already, I’m a huge fan of traveling alone and I want to debunk any negative preconceptions you may have about the experience!
Something to keep in mind in general… If you allow fear to dictate your life, you’ll never move forward. This applies to other aspects of life as well, but I won’t get into that.
No one goes on a solo adventure and looks back on their life when they’re 80 years old and thinks, “oh man I really regretted that”. What they’ll regret is not going. What they’ll regret is not getting to experience independence and freedom while traveling.
Solo Travel Benefits
With total freedom, your travels experiences are more spontaneous.
With no one to depend on or consider, you’re free to do whatever you please, whenever you please. There are no worries about whether or not your friend is bored, if they want to see this instead of that, if you guys agree on the same restaurant for lunch, etc. The world is your oyster, so you go out there and you enjoy it.
It can be a lot cheaper.
When you travel on your own it is much easier to keep up with your budget because you are the one who decides what to see, where to stay, and what to eat. Hostels are often times way cheaper than splitting a hotel room, even if there are a few people to split with. If you feel like you’ve been eating out or going out too much, you can pick up a quick meal from the supermarket, skip the drinks, and stay in without having to convince anyone or let anyone down. No peer pressure means you can do what is best for your wallet!
You’re able to focus on what matters.
Maybe you have that one friend who just loves capturing the perfect photo of herself posing by the waterfall or at the lookout. Fifteen minutes pass by and you guys find yourself still taking a million photos of each other. Well when you’re traveling alone, you can’t really do that. And you might even find that you won’t really want to.
It’s so much easier to focus on what matters to you. You can sit in peace and really soak in that view. You can tune into your surroundings and people watch. No matter what you enjoy, you will live and feel in the present more than ever. More importantly, you’ll do what works for you to enjoy an experience, versus doing what others enjoy.
There will be no drama.
When traveling with other people, you’re with each other literally 24/7. More likely than not, there will be at least one instance where you guys disagree. There will be something that will begin to irk you or your travel buddies. This can cause a strain on even the closest of relationships. When traveling solo, the only drama you’ll experience will be against yourself and your inability to decide between pizza or pasta. Seriously though, this is a major perk.
You will get to know yourself better.
Once you are out there on your own, you will be faced with needing to make decisions for yourself and overcoming any fears you may encounter. In doing so, you’ll discover so much about yourself and have a better understanding of how much you are capable of. Traveling exposes you to raw experiences, good and bad, and you really do come out of it a different person. More often than not, you’ll return home with great personal growth and a more open mindset.
People are kinder and more willing to help.
A lot of my friends don’t have a positive image of Paris because of “the people”. In my opinion, Paris had some of the nicer people I’d encountered during my 3.5 month trip in Europe (I found people to be more stoic and stern in Poland, haha). I think this has to do with the fact that I was a solo traveler. Instead of being loud or obnoxious, I was mindful and happy to encounter people. Instead of being distracted by conversation (I’m not having one), I paid more attention to my surroundings and smiled at the people I passed on the street.
People will take notice of how you project and carry yourself and will reciprocate in turn. Be kind, and others will follow. Locals will initiate friendly conversation with you, embrace it! You’re lucky to be able to experience this!
You get to enjoy experiences that parties of 2+ would never experience.
When I was in Rome, I sat down as a party of one at a cute little restaurant. The waiter asked if he could seat another solo traveler across from me since all other tables were occupied. The man that sat down ended up revealing that he lived 30 minutes away from my hometown and that immediately broke the ice. We ended up sharing stories, laughs, a bottle of wine, dinner, and tiramisu together, and even ended the night with more gelato afterward. Totally random, but had I not been alone that night, I would have never met such a kindhearted person. To this day, that remains one of the best dinner conversations I think I’ve ever had. Experiences like this really make solo travel worthwhile for me.
People are more open with you.
If you’re traveling solo and staying in hostels, chances are there are a ton of other people in the same boat as you. Everyone is new in town, everyone is likely lost and alone, so you guys share that in common. Why not chat someone up? Likely, they’d welcome the social interaction. Hostels are perfect for this kind of thing.
You’ll be surprised by how quickly travelers open up. Getting to hear everyone’s story is really intriguing and you shouldn’t miss out on asking. You’ll be able to pick up travel tips and life lessons from them while sharing some of your own experiences. The travel community is a really giving one and you’ll find the people to be extremely friendly and unique.
Travel friends = lifelong friends.
You meet a ton of people, some of which you’ll create strong ties with them. If you’re traveling solo and staying in hostels, chances are there are a ton of other people in the same boat as you. On occasion, you’ll find someone you really click with, find out that they’re also visiting for X number of days, and decide to team up on your adventures. This is the start of a blossoming friendship! Let me tell you, you can really get to know a person in a few days. Especially because solo travelers are more prone to opening up and being friendly. I can’t tell you how many memories I’ve made with complete strangers just by spending a lunch, a day or a weekend with them.
With the prevalence of social media these days, it’s so easy to keep in touch with people, even years after your travels. Not to mention, making connections with other travelers means you’ll have a new network of friends spanning across the globe. When you get around to visiting them, you’ll have a personal tour guide showing you around their home–more of an excuse to travel!
Conversations with the people you meet are more meaningful.
One on one means not having to entertain surface-level conversations in order to include everyone. You can get really deep, engaging in conversations life aspirations, worries, and goals, and dive deep into the paths that each led you to where you guys are now. Some of my most memorable conversations were with people I met during my solo travels. To be able to see someone else’s life perspective when they come from way across the globe, and then to share yours with them is a true blessing.
You’ll gain so much self-confidence.
Being on your own and being forced to make decisions for yourself will teach you valuable skills. In turn, you’ll begin to trust yourself more, which will make you a more confident person. The skills and the confidence that you gain can be applied all throughout your life, not just to travel. Not to mention, you’ll rely less on other people’s company and enjoy doing things alone more. Score.
You’ll be hooked to solo travel after your first experience!
Once you begin to experience the benefits of solo travel, at some point on a group vacation, you might even wish you were taking a trip without your friends! There are so many benefits of solo travel, so many learnings to be revealed, and limitless experiences to be had. Solo female travel promotes personal growth, mindfulness, and independence. It’s an experience that I think every woman should absolutely grant themselves if they’re even slightly interested.
Looking for more inspiration or solo travel guides? Check out these great and informative reads:
- A full guide on how to travel solo: The Solo Travel Handbook by Lonely Planet
- Another full guide on how to travel solo: The Solo Traveler’s Handbook by Janice Leith Waugh
- An in-depth guide on how to travel cheap and smart: How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Third Edition: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter by Matt Kepnes (Nomadic Matt)
- Don’t forget to stay mindful and bring a travel journal: You Are Here: A Mindful Travel Journal
What are you waiting for? Start your solo travel adventure planning now!