There is something invigorating, liberating and empowering about traveling solo, especially as a female traveler.
I wouldn’t say I prefer to travel alone, but when the locations, activities, and my goals align, traveling solo can be an incredible experience.
Of course there are downsides to traveling solo as well—in some places it might be unsafe, in others it might be really expensive. There might be activities that require multiple parties to participate, or there might be an unplanned experience that would have been incredible had you been able to share it in the moment with someone else.
All of those realistic downsides aside, I have had some great experiences while traveling alone and encourage others to consider it!
Most of my solo travels have been in the UK and Europe– Northern Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, France and Germany.
I would recommend any of those countries to individuals who want to try the experience without an incredible amount of risk.
For me, transportation was easy, I felt safe, there were plenty of things to do, people spoke English, and I had a wonderful time.
Top Reasons to Travel Solo
As I thought about why those experiences were so positive, I landed on the following key perks to traveling solo:
- Autonomy. I usually research and plan the trips I take with Brian and others, and I expend a fair amount of energy trying to ensure the itinerary represents the interests of everyone involved. The beauty of traveling solo is that you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. Pop into a random late afternoon coffee tasting? Retire early to your room and get some rest? Indulge in a glass of wine while quietly people watching? Check, check and check. And not a single concern about whether anyone else wants to participate.
- Awareness. I find myself much more cognizant of what I’m experiencing when I travel alone because I am solely responsible for getting where I need to be. When I travel with others, I still tend to be the one managing the map and directing us to various places and activities, but I have the luxury of handing it off to someone else when I need a break. When you’re solo, there’s a little more pressure to be aware of your surroundings, not only so you know where you are and where you’re going, but so you don’t place yourself in a precarious or unsafe situation. This augmented level of awareness has led me to better remember small details about my experiences– more so than when I’m traveling with others.
- Authorship. Traveling solo means I am the only one living my experience. I love taking photos of what I’m seeing and writing about what I’m doing so I can share my experiences with others. While I also like to capture my adventures traveling with friends and family, that writing ends up reflecting our collective experience—what we discussed or how we responded to things that happened along the way. There’s a different responsibility when you’re the sole author and offering an exclusive perspective. Much of my wanderlust was inspired by reading about other places and people that I wanted to eventually see and experience for myself. It’s exciting to think my perspective and experiences might encourage someone else to explore the world.
What other perks have you experienced when you’ve traveled alone?
Resources for Traveling Solo
Still considering traveling solo? Here are a few resources I’ve enjoyed reading to help you get started:
- Flying Solo: 13 Women Who Made Travel History (article)
- Fly Solo: The 50 Best Places on Earth for a Girl to Travel Alone (book)
- Rick Steves: Tips for Traveling Solo (article)
- #womenwhotravel (Twitter feed)