Solo travel is amazing and frightening all at the same time. It gives you a chance to reflect and think while taking in some sights and enjoying delicious food.
I’m an introvert, so going off on my own has never been a foreign concept for me. Even when I’m home, I often enjoy just sitting in silence to relax.
Traveling alone is like being on one long 1920s silent reel. You may share some conversations or meals with fellow travelers along the way, but overall, you’re living that solo life. It’s like a silent retreat except that you can speak whenever you feel the need.
I often find that when I travel alone I’m more in tune to those around me. There’s so much listening and observing to be done when you’re not talking.
That being said, traveling alone is still seen as daring and unexpected, especially for women. I can’t think of how many times I’ve heard “how are you doing that?” or “I’m surprised you went alone”!
If I were to wait for the time, money, and right person/people to align to take a trip, I would invariably take less trips. Since I love traveling, I refuse to let my lifestyle be dictated by when other people can take part in it.
Now that I’ve traveled alone to more than 5 countries, I’ve noticed that some things never seem to change.
For one, dining alone just seems so gauche. I don’t know why; it’s not like I’m really going to talk to anyone while I’m diving in to a great dish. I find that waiters either ignore me completely or continue to stop by the table in pity. There’s rarely a balance! In addition, hosts often ask “Are you alone?” multiple times. And then proceed to loudly clear the table of all other place settings! So much for discretion. In spite of all that, I think the most humorous experience I have in restaurants while dining alone is people usurping chairs or tables from where I’m seated or just sitting down without asking! Just because I’m alone doesn’t mean I want to eat with you! I normally take all this in stride, but that doesn’t mean I don’t laugh while it’s all happening.
I used to feel really awkward about eating in a restaurant alone-even in America! Then, I realized how great of an experience it can be, especially if the service is decent. I now take myself out to lunch weekly when I’m not traveling. I love taking time to savor the food.
The other slightly annoying experience I often have while alone is getting cut in line. I’m not sure how one lone traveler is equivalent to seeing a ghost. Yet, all the time, at monuments or airports or train stations, people decide it’s socially acceptable to step in front of me in line. Usually, I just step ahead of them again.
Thirdly, cat callers really think it’s their heyday when you’re by yourself! After spending several years in Philly and NYC, I don’t think anyone calling out to me in the street in broad daylight is novel. I follow the same rules away from home that I follow at home in NYC: only walking in well-populated areas AND in daylight/well-lit streets, walking away from overzealous commentators, knowing the local emergency number, and never appearing lost, even if I am. Thankfully, cell phones are so popular that no one really knows whether you’re reading a map or on the gram! I never take out paper maps on the street anymore; it’s a dead giveaway that you’re a tourist and don’t know where you’re going.
The more that I travel alone, the more I fall in love with it! I always experience some pre-trip jitters, but with the right amount of planning beforehand and a positive outlook, you’ll have the vacation of a lifetime!