Life doesn’t wait, and neither should you. Solo travel can grow your ability to self-care, embrace uncertainty and build confidence in the unknown.
Why Solo Travel Seems Intimidating
“I’d be so scared to travel by myself – aren’t you afraid to travel alone?”
“So you just take a backpack and go, not knowing where you’re going to end up?”
These are probably the most common questions that I get when I share about my solo adventures. Often they reply with, “You’re so brave.”
I’m not especially brave, but I get it. It’s rough out there and the world can be a scary place. You need look no further than your nearest newspaper to find that there are awful and crazy headlines. As women, there are even more security precautions we have to take to ensure our own safety.
Sometimes I get nervous about how the trip will end up, especially before I leave home. I start wondering if I’ll really be alone the whole time, or what will happen if I’m nor perfectly prepared. (Check out the indispensable solo travel packing list here)
Then I remind myself that as scary as the world can be, there’s also brilliance and beauty to behold. From new experiences and scenery to wonderful friends to make. You find adventure. You find romance. You find joy.
For me, the rewards of solo traveling are worth the risk.
“Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all.”
Why Solo Travel?
I think that every woman should take a solo trip at least once in her life. The destination doesn’t matter so much as what you get out of the time with yourself. For women especially, there is so much noise in our everyday lives. There’s work to complete, errands to do, family members to care for, and so much of this falls on our shoulders in particular. Taking care of others often at the expense of ourselves – so much that we can feel guilty about taking time for our own needs.
This is often amplified for women of color since it can be especially difficult to find distance from the added burdens that society heaps on us. For me, traveling has become a form of self-care; I can push back on the daily grind of responsibilities, and I can also redefine my life in a global scale, outside of the prejudice and microagressions that women of color experience on a regular basis.
Solo Travel Can Be Self-Care
Traveling has allowed me to find freedom in a unique way. I can enjoy novel experiences and broaden my horizons while making sure that I am taking care of myself. I’ve come a long way in my personal journey, and I’m finally in a place where I’ve realized that I don’t need to “earn” my way to rest; nor do I need to work to “deserve” a break. I’m a human and I need rest and relaxation. Full stop.
Solo travel and self-care go hand in hand, as it has taught me to carve out space for myself, offline and uninterrupted. I found out that by taking time to rest and focus on myself without other competing distractions or obligations forced me to block out other things and simply focus on me.
Realizing that I don’t need to hold anything or anyone else together was such a revelation while traveling alone. Finally, I was able to sleep in, eat when (and what) you want, and treat yourself to out of the ordinary experiences without judgement.
There’s a romance that occurs when you give yourself permission to take care of yourself and love yourself more. You start realizing who you are and get to see more of who you are becoming.
“Love is never hurtful; It’s never about forgetting who you are, it’s about exploring yourself more.”Ankita Singhal
Solo Travel Leads to Reflection
Solo travel gives you the opportunity to be alone…with your thoughts. If you’re an over-thinker like I tend to be, this may not be a benefit in your eyes right away.
But stick with it!
Trust the process and give it time.
Suddenly, I started noticing more about myself: What I like and don’t like, what I care about, what I appreciate in others. The list goes on. These realizations would not have come without solitude and reflection. These moments have allowed me to heal and grow by revealing more about who I am.
Inevitably, time spent in reflection will allow you to reground yourself and visualize your desires for the future. At the very least, you start to build more skills in self-awareness and self-reliance.
Internal reflections aside, solo travel is a great way to explore other cultures and lifestyles that are different from your own. By observing other people in their surroundings, it’s natural to start thinking about what you’d like to incorporate in your own life moving forward.
This doesn’t have to be all heavy emotional work either!
For example, in my travels I’ve noticed that most of the world doesn’t use dryers for laundry (except in cases where air-drying is impossible). It just makes more sense – the sun is free and sustainable, and the clothes dry on their own.
When I went home, it was easy and eco-friendly swap for me to begin drying my clothes outdoors instead of in the dryer.
Of course, travel is great for highlighting differences in cultures, languages and lifestyles. However, it’s also a mirror that helps you build connections and reflections that you can carry back your life at home.
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”Marcel Proust
Solo Travel Builds Confidence
One of the credits of solo travel is building up your self-reliance and confidence.
I mean, when you think about it, you’re pushing yourself purposefully into the unknown. There’s something inside you that is hoping to be coaxed out of your comfort zone. You’re willing to lean into uncomfortable experiences and first time challenges.
I think that this openness and determination to go into the world and see for yourself leads you to realize how capable and strong you are.
You’re relying on faith over fear, even through the struggles of navigating a new language and place.
It’s actually such a liberating thing when you think about it: showing up for yourself and trusting that everything will work out in the end.
“Travel far enough, you meet yourself.”David Mitchell
Solo Travel Shows You How To Be Alone
Solo travel shows you how to enjoy your time alone, which is different than feeling lonely.
Over time, you get the hang of traveling by yourself. You’re able to discern what you want to do with the day. You start to notice your own quirks and habits,
some most of which are innocuous as leaving half-drunk teacups and water bottles everywhere.
But you’ll also start to realize some of your pain points, which may not be as endearing. For example, I tend to get flustered with directions easily. Also, if you catch me pre-coffee in the morning, I can be a bit rough in temper.
However, learning the good, bad and the ugly has taught me how to be alone. I’m grateful for the time since it allows me to enjoy my own company and build skills of self-knowledge that help me problem solve in all situations, long after the bags have been unpacked on the return home.
Solo travel is so healing because it leaves you a more well-rounded and stronger person, no matter how far you’ve gone. And of course, it shows you where you need to rely on and learn from others.
“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.”Anais Nin
Solo Travel Allows You To Make New Friends
Speaking of others, solo travel is such a unique experience because you are alone together with amazing new people you meet on the journey.
I’ve never had a problem making friends on a trip (despite always worrying about it before I depart for one). Solo travelers tend to have a knack for meeting and finding other solo travelers, and they quickly become part of your adventure.
In my most recent trip, I met someone in a hostel and ended up traveling with her for a couple days up to the Lake Aititlan in Guatemala. It was spontaneous, and it just worked out that we could both go up to the location on the same day.
You start to make friends while you’re out at restaurants or in your hostel. They become your travel family and quite quickly you don’t remember a time without them on your journey.
I’ve had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, and we are able to connect over any activity or topic. Travelers also tend to be quite open and chatty, so the conversations and plans start and just keep flowing.
And when you do have to part (as we all eventually do), you learn how to hold onto yourself. You know that you can stand on your own two feet and figure out what comes your way.
“I’m in love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met.”Melody Truong
How To Get Started
Solo travel is a great way to gain perspective and challenge yourself on your next adventure. Ready to get started? Stay tuned for the upcoming, “How to Prepare for Solo Travel” blog post. In the meantime, check out the Choose Your Adventure series for designing and planning your dream getaway.