“You’re going to walk Bourbon Street, by yourself??” “You’re going to eat dinner, alone??” “You’re going to go there, as a solo woman?”
Yes. Yes, I am.
This year, I’ve done more solo female travel than usual thanks to several business trips and a few situations where my husband, my favorite travel companion, couldn’t come.
Though some people insist on a shock reaction, I always find traveling solo to be an educational, enjoyable experience.
#1. I’m more observant and aware
When I’m traveling solo, my sense of self-reliance is at max.
I notice details I might not have otherwise. I fill my camera with more photos than usual as I dart down side streets and pop into shops at random.
I learn directions before I set out and I don’t stare down at my phone as I walk. I don’t want to look oblivious, and I also want to enjoy the scenery.
I strike up conversations with strangers, mostly because I’m not engrossed in talk with companions. I chat with baristas, bartenders, taxi drivers, shopkeepers. I learn so much more about the local culture.
I watch people around me, partly out of curiosity, but also because I’m not stupid, and I know that a small level of concern isn’t misplaced.
But for all my vigilance, I never feel threatened. I’m not saying one shouldn’t be careful, but the world’s not so scary as people paint it to be.
I learn to be aware, but I also learn to enjoy the freedom of being on my own.
And when I manage an entire trip myself, I feel empowered. I feel like a travel guru. It’s awesome.
#2. I like the freedom of it
Call me selfish, but let’s be honest: it’s nice to call the shots yourself. No one to disagree with you, no one to override your plans, no one to make you late (or insist you have to be on time), no one to slow you down or hurry you up.
It’s not something I want to do always, and sometimes seeing a location through someone else’s eyes is revealing. But as an introvert who usually knows what I want, finding my own way is a treat.
#3. Though it’s fun for a while, eventually I miss shared adventures
For all the pleasure of solo travel, eventually I miss companionship. I start to miss sharing a meal with someone, trading bites of each other’s plates. I miss reflecting on the day’s adventures, talking about our favorite parts. I find myself thinking what a great trip I’m having, and how I can’t wait to tell my husband about the coffee I had, or my friend about this cool shop I found, or my mom about this museum she would have loved.
Even if you travel alone frequently, I think the adventure is meant to be shared in some way. That’s why I love blogging, using sharing apps like Instagram and Snapchat, and talking or video-chatting with loved ones — it lets me share a piece of the adventure.
At the end of the day, even when I travel solo, I’m always going to be sharing the adventure somehow, some way, with someone.
What about you? Have you traveled solo? What do you like or not like about it?
This is day 8 in the 12 Days of Travel on The Globe Turner. Stop by tomorrow for day 9 of #12DaysofTravel, a series of travel memories from 2015. There will be a post every day ’til Christmas!