Traveling with others can be a lot of fun, and let’s be honest, it’s definitely the most popular way to travel. But solo travel, especially solo female travel, has become trendy for a reason and it’s not just the great selfie ops (selfies are actually really hard to take solo, I’ve learned).
I get a lot of questions about my solo female traveller lifestyle — whether I get lonely or bored or feel uncomfortable a lot.
Those answers? All a resounding “no!”
Traveling alone isn’t a consolation prize; for me, it’s actually the pinnacle. Whether you’re taking a weekend trip within the U.S. or wandering across a continent, solo excursions can be incredibly refreshing and stimulating. Going alone has taught me a ton about myself, about my independence and what I’m capable of.
Once you start, it can be addicting. Here’s some of why I love moving through the world alone.
I can be selfish. One of the challenges of trekking with others is the different ideas, budgets, tastes and styles of travel you’re sure to encounter at some point. How many times have you argued on a trip about what to eat for dinner or which activities to prioritize? When I travel solo, I get to decide it all. Do I want to stick to a strict schedule or blow up all my plans for a spontaneous moment? Do I want to just chill for a full day or climb a mountain? Having the only real say on the matter (obviously work also plays a role) means that I never leave a place feeling like compromise left me with a different experience than the one I had been seeking.
I move at my own pace. Everyone travels differently. There are morning people and nighthawks. Happy hour aficionados and late-night diners. Some people want to jam-pack a day with seven activities; for others, merely the word “activities” incites anxiety. Having the freedom to decide just how fast or slow I want to move on a given day — and reserving the right to change that as I so decide, keeps me from getting overly exhausted or under-stimulated.
It’s actually more social. When I travel with even one other person, we tend to stay within our bubble. We have conversations between ourselves and share memories with each other. And that can be fun — but I’m much less likely to meet locals, strike up a random conversation in a random place and build *new* lasting friendships. Those are the memories that often feel most poignant upon looking back, that linger the longest. that give me the greatest understanding about the place where I am — and they happen when I’m traveling solo.
I’m productive on my terms. I’ve been a solo female traveler for more than a year now, and let me tell you, trying to work full-time while traveling full-time is wild. I’m not sure how I would execute what I need to execute with another person along for the ride. Bending my schedule to my needs alone, I will spend weeks working mainly at night — sometimes from restaurants or cafes; getting up earlier to work; sightseeing only in the mornings, whatever it is that I need, with no guilt attached.
I absorb more. When I think about my solo trips, invariably, the colors are brighter, the details are sharper, I remember the sounds of a place. And that’s because I HEAR more, I SEE more, I THINK more when I’m traveling solo, without constant conversation to distract me. I have often thought that I have fuller, more enhanced experiences than I do when I’m with another person, and my memories reflect that.
There is nothing like walking through a beautiful city with a great soundtrack. One of my favorite things to do in a city is set aside some time, sans camera, playing on the internet, etc. to just walk with a pair of headphones in and a great soundtrack on. It’s a total “alone” activity and there might not be anything better.
I’m more alert and aware. It’s human nature. If we’re with someone else, we subconsciously assign them some level of responsibility for our wellbeing. I notice when I’m with others, I never remember where I park or what streets I walked down, but the more concerning thing is that I’m also much less attuned to important safety signals and my general surroundings. Alone, I am diligent in looking after my drinks in public places, I always look at street signs and study the areas I’m in and am hyper aware of where my phone/purse/wallet is. Many people assume it’s much less safe to be a solo female traveler, and to a certain extent that is valid, but there’s no arguing that I’m more meticulous about the way I walk through the world when I’m alone.