Why everyone should travel alone at least once.

There’s no denying that travelling by yourself for the first time is intimidating.

My first solo trip was in January 2015, when I ventured to New York for five days (with a couple of days spent in Oslo either side). It had taken me 27 years to pluck up the courage to travel alone, and even then, I only booked the trip as the return flights from Oslo to New York were so absurdly cheap it would have been a crime not to.

Since that first snowy solo adventure, I’ve been away a few times on my own, including a long weekend trip to Morocco and nearly a month spent exploring Colombia.

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Whenever I meet someone new and I mention that I like travelling, they’re almost always surprised to hear that I’ve been to such places by myself. I get comments such as: “Do you like travelling alone? Aren’t you scared when you travel by yourself? You must be so brave. I could never do that. I would love to travel more but I have nobody to go with and am too scared to do it alone. Don’t you get lonely when you travel on your own?”.

Well, in all honesty, while I enjoy trips away with friends and family, there’s something really exhilarating about travelling solo. It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t gone away on their own before, but climbing the stairs of a plane, with my passport and boarding pass at the ready, knowing that when I disembark I’ll be completely alone in a foreign country, gives me a real buzz.

If you are in two minds about whether to book a trip by yourself for the first time, read on to see if I can convince you to take the plunge and join thousands of other solo travellers around the world…

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Do you like travelling alone?

Absolutely. For starters, there’s a sense of freedom that comes with travelling independently that you just don’t get when you’re travelling with someone else. The trip is completely yours, so you get to do what you want, visit the places you want and see what you want, all at your own pace.

You won’t end up missing out on something that you really want to do because someone else wants to do something else (which in my experience, can cause friction between friends travelling together).

I’ve also found that travelling somewhere on your own encourages you to meet the locals, try new things, make new friends and push yourself out of your comfort zone.

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There will be times you feel homesick when travelling alone – that is to be expected. I’ll unashamedly admit that two weeks into my trip to Colombia I really found myself missing my cats. Sad but true.

But it’s important to remember why you went traveling in the first place: you wanted to see a new place, try new things and meet new people. It was meant to be different and far away. Being homesick is just a temporary bump in the road. You’ll be home eventually and everything will still be there, more or less as it was.

I honestly believe that travelling will help you appreciate home so much more.

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Aren’t you scared when you travel by yourself? 

Travelling on your own can be scary, yep, especially the first time. But it’s only as scary as you allow it to be.

Before I started traveling solo I was scared of the idea of even eating by myself in a restaurant, let alone boarding a plane and heading off somewhere where I don’t speak the language.

Safety is obviously a big concern, and should always be at the front of mind. But you can ensure you’re safe by being prepared, being aware and being smart. Afterall, you’ve managed to survive this long because you’ve learnt how to keep yourself out of tricky situations. Just keep doing that when you travel.

I like to think I’m a pretty savvy person – I wouldn’t put myself in unnecessary danger or take needless risks.

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Sure, you may get hopelessly lost, miss a connecting flight, lose your luggage, find out that your booking has magically unbooked itself, get pick-pocketed, hate the place you’ve travelled to, get lonely or end up at the totally wrong metro station. But all this could happen regardless of whether you travel alone or with someone else, so you shouldn’t be put off by the thought of scenarios like this.

And facing such difficulties by yourself can be incredibly rewarding. Learning to problem solve, face conflict and overcome obstacles alone will change you and your outlook, usually for the better.

Since starting my solo travel life last January, I have become more independent, more confident and have more faith in my ability to face whatever is thrown at me. And because of this, I’m no longer scared about travelling on my own.

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Don’t you get lonely when you travel on your own?

Again, the answer to this question is ‘yes’ and ‘no’.

I’m a pretty sociable person and feel more than comfortable around new people, at home and abroad. Wherever I’ve been in the world I’ve found it fairly easily to chat to anyone I meet, which is great. In fact, some of the people I’ve met on my travels have become really good friends. I even ventured to Istanbul with one guy I made friends with  when travelling in Colombia.

Travelling alone makes you a lot more approachable to other solo travellers too. You already share something in common: you want to see the world. But even if you never speak to your new acquaintances again, you had a friend for a day or a week, and people often end up being the highlight of the trip.

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I like spending time with people and do enjoy the company of others. However, I can’t cope with being around someone 24/7. I find that after a certain amount of time with a person or group of people, it starts to wear on me. I need some alone time, some solitude to just chill out and recharge my batteries.

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Being able to make new friends easily is great, but no matter how good you are at it, sometimes you will still end up feeling lonely.

You may be travelling out of season and find other travellers just aren’t around. You may only meet groups who aren’t really interested in adding a new person to their circle. You may struggle with the language and find making friends difficult if you can’t join in conversations.

Though the world is full of amazing places, you may find that some places just don’t suit travelling alone. So it’s important to find a destination that you not only have the desire to visit, but also feel comfortable with when it comes to the idea of travelling through it solo.

All the places I’ve been to alone (New York, Oslo, Sousse in Tunisa, Fez and Marakech in Morocco) have been fine. But I think travelling by myself when I went to the Czech Republic or The Gambia may have been a completely different experience.

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I know that not everybody will love it as much as I do, but I would encourage anyone contemplating a trip alone to try it at least once, even if it is only to a new town or city in their home country. Just remember that it’s ok to be afraid to travel alone. Don’t let that fear stop you from booking a ticket and jetting off though.

There’s a big exciting world out there waiting to be explored.

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54 thoughts on “Why everyone should travel alone at least once.

  1. I love traveling alone. There is fear, joy and peace. Forget the destination, it could be a local destination or a foreign one….the travel could be for a day or a week but do it. The first time it’s scary , the second time u smarter and the third time it’s an addiction….Kaz go do it girl ….u’ll just love it

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  2. I’ve travelled solo before and enjoyed it. You get to do your own thing and not have to worry about anyone else. I’m one of those people who is very independent and enjoys their own company

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  3. I love the idea of travelling alone, but for me it would be a nightmare, I just would not enjoy being by myself and not sharing with someone, I also get lost very easily so venturing out and exploring would be very limited x

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    1. That’s great Hayley! I went to Amsterdam with a friend, but I’ve not been to Germany yet – whereabouts did you go when you went alone? And how long for? Would you recommend it? x

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  4. I wish I’d done more travelling when I was younger. I wouldn’t want to leave my little girl to go travelling now and her allergies mean I’m too scared to take her abroad

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    1. That’s completely understandable Janet – don’t give up on the idea of travelling though 🙂 when she’s older and more independent, maybe you’ll be able to make some of your travel dreams a reality x

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  5. Loved all these pictures! I have only ever gone to London on my own. I went for 3 days and I absolutely loved it. I think because I do so much at home for my family it was so good to just do things for myself X

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    1. See, you’ve already made the first step Louise – first a little jolly in London by yourself, next a little weekend away in Paris… Then you’ll be wanting to jet off half way around the world 🙂 it’s all about taking a little time out for yourself x

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  6. This made me so excited for my upcoming trip to Korea! I’m going for 10 weeks and it’s my first ever solo trip and it did take 26 years for me to actually do it but I’m doing it! I did move abroad by myself when I was 19, but this is the first time venturing so far away from home on my own. Eek!

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  7. I’ve gone on a number of different trips alone and had a wonderful time. Usually I’ll schedule one when I have a big writing project I’d like to work on. I’ll work during the day and in the evening head to the beach or out for dinner .. then it’s back to it. There’s something about being away from the everyday demands of life that leaves me feeling far more creative x

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    1. I couldn’t agree with you more Alison – I use my time on the plane and sometimes evenings in the hotel rooms, penning blog posts and sorting through the mountains of pictures I take! I still have some my trip to India last April to upload! x

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  8. Completely agree with this! I’ve been on holiday by myself a few times, and the extra time allowed for exploration and inner reflection is amazing!

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  9. I like travelling alone for the factor that I can do exactly what I want to do. I love planning and when I’m on my own I can decide how full on I want my day to be. I did New York myself last year with a friend joining for bits of it but I’ve also done Copenhagen and Edinburgh completely on my own x

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    1. You sound just like me Rhian! My first solo trip was to Oslo and New York, and I loved it! My friend recently joined me in Cyprus for a few days, which was great, but then I also had a few days on my own to do some exploring and sight-seeing, which she wasn’t particularly bothered about. Copenhagen I did with some friends from work, though we only went for the day. Maybe I’ll go back there one day by myself, to see a bit more x

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  10. Love the last photo. It reminds me of one I took when I was travelling on my own- even down to the high bun!! I am really in need of a break, but my holidays aren’t falling at the same time my bf can get off work. Maybe I should just go by myself. I never used to mind travelling on my own, but recently I like someone to share the experience with.

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    1. Hehe! I love taking pictures of my shadow (especially when it’s so long, as I’m only 5’1, so it makes me feel tall haha!) – that one was taken in Cabo de Vela in Colombia on a solo trip a few years ago.

      I know what you mean about travelling with your BF versus travelling on your own – before I got with my (now ex) boyfriend I went everywhere alone, then we got together and we had a few trips together. Now we’ve split I’m rekindling my love for solo travel – I was in Cyprus a fortnight ago, and on Thursday I’m jetting off to Mexico! Sometimes you just need some time for you, do you know what I mean? x

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    1. So how’s your mini solo adventure going so far Emily? Of course you’re bound to miss your family, that’s understandable, but sometimes it’s nice to just get away and have some time for yourself. I really hope you enjoy your little trip x

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  11. A woman I use to work said that after he husband died after cancer, she one day packed her bag and got the first available flights to anywhere. She ended up going to Greece as her first stop and then she went everywhere. When she told me this story, I asked if she got lonely. She said she never did and felt so liberated and free.
    However I’m not as brave as she is. xx

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  12. I’ve always wanted to travel alone, I’m not a hugely social person and when I go away with friends I always have to go off for myself for half a day or I’d go slowly bonkers.

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    1. You should try it Steph, it is very liberating and helps with so many other things too (building self confidence, making you more aware of things going on around you, more savvy when it comes to spending money etc) x

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    1. It’s definitely opened my eyes up, I see things in a totally different perspective now, I am not contentious about my personal safety, spending money and making sure I don’t put myself in compromising situations x

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  13. I have never been scared of solo travel. In fact, I’ve always been excited by it. That’s how I’ve always travelled until I started dating. And now that I am back to being single, I’m actually sad that I have to go back to solo travel. Not because it isn’t fun but because I think happiness is meant to be shared just like travelling is meant to be shared with another person. 😦

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    1. I know exactly what you mean Justine – I’m recently single too, and sometimes there are things that are nicer to be shared with a partner (a gorgeous sunset for example, or a romantic meal), but I don’t think being single or having no one to go away with you should be a reason not to go! I hope you get your solo travel mojo back soon! x

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  14. Great read. Reminded me of the time I travelled alone – it wasn’t really my first choice but my partner got caught up in some work and couldn’t make it and I decided to travel by myself. Best. Decision, Ever. It’s scary and overwhelming at first, no doubt. But it grows on you!

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    1. So glad that you continued with your travel plans when your partner couldn’t make them – it’s great to hear that you enjoyed yourself travelling solo! Good for you! x

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  15. I’ve travelled solo before and I really enjoyed being on my own and exploring the places in my own pace. It’s so much easier to meet people that way but I have to say that I prefer to travel with my boyfriend or friends because I really enjoy sharing the experience with them. If they don’t have time though, I don’t mind going on my own too 🙂

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    1. I think that’s a great attitude to have Sina – good for you! It’s definitely easier to meet people when you’re away when you’re on your own – I think others are curious as to why you’re on your own, they want to know your story lol! Where’s been your favourite destination to travel solo? x

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  16. Agreed! On my first backpacking trip through Europe I split up with my travel partner for 3 months and it was the best experience I have had traveling. Travelling alone really forces you to open up to others and your surroundings.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Shaun
    http://www.thislifeintrips.com

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    1. Thanks for your comment Shaun – I hope the split wasn’t difficult while you were travelling? Glad to hear that it made for a more enjoyable experience on your own though! Where were you travelling? Would you recommend it as a destination for solo travel? x

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  17. Wonderful timing for me to read this right now. I’m embarking on my first solo trip in about 10 days, and several of the things I’m looking forward to you discuss here. I’m really looking forward to setting my own priorities. Seeing what I want to see. Eating when I want to eat. It’s just a whole different way of doing this, and I’m kinda psyched!

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    1. Hi Meg, thanks for your comment – and what great timing! I hope you found the post useful 🙂 you sound super excited, I can’t wait to see your own travelling solo stories on your website! x

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  18. I completely agree. Solo travel is a life changing experience and def something everyone should try at least once. I’ve had some fantastic adventures and met so many amazing people along the way

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  19. I haven’t travelled alone much but I totally get this. In this beautifully written post you have touched upon the points perfectly. 😊

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