I’ve been traveling alone for more than 15 years. First, it was as a young teenager, going to visit family and friends in Europe. I loved it. I loved having the independence and needing to rely on myself. Pretty soon I was planning trips that didn’t involve visiting friends, and solo travel was a big theme throughout my 20s. “Don’t you get scared?” and “Don’t you get bored?” are two questions I get asked a lot. The answer is - honestly - no. I talked to a few of my traveling friends to help me articulate why we love it, and why we’d recommend it.
1. It’s Empowering
Rachel, a teacher who lives in Colombia, finds herself regularly taking long weekends alone to recharge. “I love how it empowers me to be independent, to learn more about myself,” she says. “It makes me smile, laugh and even cry but it's all worth it to keep growing and pushing myself in ways that wouldn’t be possible at home.”
2. It Makes You Feel Alive
“It reminds me that I am alive,” says Deniz, recently went on a six day canoe trip. “I wouldn’t enjoy going to a city myself, but being outside makes me feel like I belong. My favorite parts are early mornings and sometimes waking up in the middle of the night. It's when I feel most connected to the spirit around me, and waking up by myself in nature - I get curious about what might be different around me.” Of course, she admits with a laugh, “There's always some happiness, too, about having survived the night.”
3. It Puts You in New Situations
“You notice more things when you're alone,” says Erin, a documentary photographer who is regularly on the road. “I love to walk out the door and just wander. See where I end up. Traveling by yourself gives you more confidence, knowing you’re able to do something by yourself.”
4. You Get to Make the Choices
“Honestly one of my favorite parts of traveling alone is that when all I want is room service and bad TV, or a massage, there's no one to dissuade me. I do some of my best thinking and writing in hotel rooms - there’s no distractions, and no one to tell me to do otherwise,” says Molly, who works for the State Department.
5. You Interact with New People
“Traveling alone often opens up the opportunity to meet people you wouldn't have in the safety of your usual friends or co-workers. From a fellow ex-pat on a tour to a local you meet through your work, being on your own gives you the flexibility to invest in getting to know a wider variety of people,” says Molly. Erin wholeheartedly agrees - “I always make new friends when I am by myself.” Rachel, who can usually be found trying a dance class to immerse herself in a new place, goes one step further: “It always gives me such a deeper appreciation and understanding of the world outside of myself.”
And of course, you learn how to take a really, really good selfie.