Solo Travel is for Everyone.
It’s obvious that you travel to experience culture, history, art, architecture and food. Why else do you travel? Yes, you travel to be with friends, loved ones, partners etc. to build memories and grow stronger relationships. But have you ever considered solo travel?
It’s so exciting to see more and more women doing their solo travels these days – whether their single or not. However, it’s so disappointing to see some women put their fellow sisters down for solo traveling. It’s so infuriating to hear people say “oh, of course she can travel alone, she’s single” or “No, I can’t travel alone. People will talk about me and feel sad for me because they think I’m alone” or “I can’t my husband wouldn’t feel comfortable” No.. just no. Why do we bring each other down? Why can’t non-single women travel too? In fact, why is it awkward to see any woman travel on their own?
If there’s one thing I can give back to society, it’s to inspire others especially women. Ladies, this is our time. Why can’t we just decide to book a trip somewhere without having to plan it with someone else?
Here are the reasons why you can and should. If my reasons don’t convince you, please enjoy some pictures from my solo travel to Brussels, Belgium and Prague, Czech Republic
1. You call the shots
This part is obvious! Solo travel means you plan everything. You can to make the decisions and design the itinerary to your needs and interest. You don’t have to compromise anything just to make someone else content as well. The beauty of travelling alone is that you can go at your own pace.
I enjoyed being able to research places and restaurants I wanted to go to due to genuine interest. It was a refreshing feeling to be able to just say “where do I want to go?”. I think it’s less about trying to prove anything to yourself or anyone else. Instead it’s a chance to build yourself into the person you want to be. It’s an opportunity to develop an appreciation for your capabilities, survival skills and courage, that you won’t be able to learn through school or work.
2. You truly understand the meaning of being alone versus being lonely
Back to my previous statement above about disappointing comments I’ve heard regarding women travelling alone – it just grinds my gears. I think so many people assume the words alone and lonely have the same meaning. In my honest opinion, it’s far from the same thing. I also honestly think no one will truly understand the difference until they have been completely alone.
I’m sure I can relate to a lot of women when I say I’ve had my moment of loneliness, even during the times where I’ve been in a room filled with people. It isn’t a nice feeling but I’ve embraced it and took it as a test to my inner strength. I’ve also had plenty of opportunities to just be alone and pleasantly surprised myself for feeling really content with that idea.
Now, deciphering the difference between the two isn’t as obvious as oil in water. It’s also not the easiest thing to put yourself through. What I really loved that solo travelling is that it put you in both types of situation – alone and loneliness. Trying your strength at both while travelling is the best scenario to be in. You’ll always find yourself doing something or seeing something when you’re travelling. You’ll find that there’s very minimal chance to feel lonely when you’re alone travelling.
3. You appreciate solo dining
I won’t lie – initially, the thought of eating in a sit-down restaurant (food court and fast food joints don’t count) alone made me more uneasy than the thought of travelling alone. Thoughts running through my mind as I sit down alone at a small table with an empty chair in front of you, thinking “is anyone looking?”, “are they feeling sad for me?”, “can she eat all of that?”. Then the waiter comes by to ask “are you expecting anyone else?”. Does this sound like your worse nightmare?
We’ve all been there. Even the strongest woman out there has definitely felt this the first time they eat at a restaurant alone and you’re lying if you say you’ve never thought of it. I know what you’re thinking – what do you do if you have no one to talk to? What do you do when people stare? Well, my answer is – enjoy your food for once! Like really enjoy your food. Take in every ingredient and just listen to your thoughts or people watch. Slow it right down and appreciate the fact that you’re treating yourself to a nice meal
Solo travel and knowing I had the opportunity to dine alone several times was both scary and exciting for me. As much as I love eating with family, friends and J, dining alone gave a new appreciation for not having to compromise what I want and having courage. It’s an opportunity for me to choose the restaurant I want and order the dishes I want to eat. It’s a chance to have an amazing dining experience only for me and treat myself to what I want, without having to please others.
4. Solo travel redefines the meaning of “Taking Care of Yourself”
Women are born nurturers and that’s no secret. When it comes to taking care of others, we go into auto pilot. In a woman’s normal day, there are always errands to run, cleaning to tend to, laundry to be sorted, mouths to be fed, appointments to be made or problems at work that needs resolving. Whether you’re a single lady, a girlfriend, a wife or a mother, you are always taking care of someone else other than yourself first – it’s just biological.
Solo travel really forces you to focus nothing else but yourself. As soon as you step out of the house and embark on your journey, you immediately turn on “survival mode”. Without realizing it, you’ve heightened all senses. You’re responsible for number 1 – you! And that’s an amazing feeling.
You’re responsible for one person’s well-being, safety and happiness and it happens to just be you. What more can you ask for? You know you’re amazing at taking care of others but when you have no one else but yourself to take care of, you’ve not only taken care of your physical state but your mental and emotional state.
5. The world isn’t as scary as the news portrays
Solo travel also helps you find the strength to trust the kindness of others. Getting lost in a foreign city is inevitable and not every one has the luxury of an international data plan. This is where basic social skills are put into gear. You just turn into a normal human being and learn to interact with strangers again.
Lucky for me, I don’t feed into the news (I don’t have cable) or whatever pops into my social media highlights (information overload stresses me out). I learned early on that the news just fear mongers and paints a world filled with horrible people, yet fails to portrays the positives in life. Yes, we live in adversity but at the end of the day people just want to be people.
Since I’ve left Canada with J and travelled to a few countries with him and without him, I’ve gained such new insights to core human behaviour. Everyone, regardless of race or background, just wants to go about their day as simple as possible and help those who needs it. This is prominent anywhere and everywhere. I think as a woman, it’s my duty to encourage other women to just trust that it’s not all stranger danger out there.
Obviously, you need to always travel smart. Stay alert, be aware and always stay connected. Follow these easy steps and you’ll never run into trouble. Danger attracts danger – just don’t get yourself involved. Join a free walking tour or a MeetUp group with like minded people if you want to feel safe. Eat at a busy restaurant so that you’re always surrounded with company.
In the end, solo travel shouldn’t be a reason to prove that you can be independent or a reason to “find yourself”. For me, it was to prove to myself that I can trust the kindness of others and that I can really rely on myself to take care of me. I guarantee you will come back home feeling a new sense of happiness, gratitude and achievement. Solo travel doesn’t mean you need to go to a completely new country. For some, even going to the mall alone is frightening (yes – I know grown women who cannot go to the mall on their own). Even travelling into the next town or city is huge accomplishment. Being solo regardless of your relationship status shouldn’t be anyone else’s business but yourself.