Why traveling solo is one of the best life experiences you can give yourself.
The first time I did it, it wasn’t some empowered post feminist political statement.
I simply had a destination in mind (Scotland) for my 30th birthday present to myself and was lacking a travel partner in crime.
You could say I started traveling solo becuase I was stubborn. I had no interest in waiting for somebody elses’ vacation schedule or bucket list to coincide with my own. I was going to the Edinburgh festival with or without anyone else, damnit! I almost considered solo travel a necessary evil to see the bits of the world I wanted to see, rather than a gift I gave myself.
In the months leading up to my trip I thought a lot about how I was going to make sure I felt safe, stave off lonliness and fill my days and nights with activites so as not to be “bored” spending all that time alone. I didn’t expect traveling by myself to be a revelation, something that would expand my universe and change my perspective on what was open to me out there in the world.
So why is solo travel so much more than just a vacation?
1) It’s All About You, Baby!
Want to create yourself a self guided Outlander tour of Inverness? Insist upon staying at a B&B in Hardscrabble Leith so you can feel closer to your favorite characters from Trainspotting? Knock yourself out kid. Whatever your geeky, niche desire is, you can make it come true solo travelling.
Go at your own pace. Stay out all night at a no-name jazz club, spend an afternoon meditating in the grass at a botanical garden, get lost without ending up in a fight with your travel buddy over the map. When you travel solo you are free to experience your destination in any way that feels genuine to you in the moment. On your own you’ll notice things and have experiences you’d never have had with a travel buddy there to distract you.
2) You’ll Discover New Strengths Within Yourself
There’s nothing like being tossed in a foreign country where you don’t know anybody and can’t speak the language to blast any lingering doubts about what you can and cannot do. Suddenly you can’t hide behind, “I’m not good at reading maps/ talking to strangers/ calculating exhange rates.” When there’s nobody else to rely on you have to dig deep, find those inner reserves of courage and get what you need all by yourself. Most of the time you realize these things were never as hard as you were making them out to be in your head!
3) You Get Cool With Yourself
I don’t know if this is just me, but my solo trips tend to be a lot of intense one on one time with my own psyche. Some days it’s like one long walking meditation from sunup to sundown. When you get out of your day to day life and turn down all the radio static, you start to hear all the secrets your heart’s been trying to tell you. The good stuff, the bad stuff, the surprising stuff all floats up to the surface. Being alone and out of your element brings you a chance to listen to your heart’s desires and accept yourself for who you are, warts and all.
4) It Empowers You In Your Everyday Life
The best part about solo travel is that the benefits don’t end when you arrive back home. The patience, courage and self acceptance you cultivated on the road will infultrate many other aspects of your life. You may find you now have a healthier attitude toward social or profesional challenges, or you may simply find yourself enjoying the small moments in life a bit more. I find myself feeling more equipped to tackle problems, speak my mind and stick up for myself with grace and humor.
5) Your Dreams Get Bigger
It may start with a long weekend city break, but it doesn’t have to end there. Whether it’s starting a theater company or backpacking across Asia, things I used to think I didn’t have the guts to do on my own now feel within my reach. Solo travel has not only broadened my horizons geographicaly, it has broadened me within myself. Not too shabby for a girl who started out just wanting to see a few plays at the Edinburgh festival! Now years later, I know that risks I’ve taken such as writing a novel and moving to a foreign country, all felt possible in part because I took those first few steps on my own and learned I was capable of so much more than I thought I was.
So did I convince you? If you haven’t yet taken a trip for one, what’s standing in your way?