Have you ever traveled on your own? I backpacked around Europe on my own when I was in college, and I loved it. I stayed in hostels and met friends along the way, and I never felt alone. These days I tend to be traveling with my husband, my sister, or friends. When the opportunity to sneak in a solo trip to Portugal presented itself, I jumped at the chance. Let me explain why I love to travel alone.
I meet amazing people. In Lisbon, I spent a day hanging out with an incredibly friendly Canadian couple and enjoyed a night sipping wine and chatting at the hotel bar with a Polish actress and her sports journalist boyfriend. I tend to interact with strangers less if I am traveling with someone else.
I love art museums more than most people (I do have a Masters Degree in Art History). When I travel alone I can spend entire days in museums. I can explore at my own pace, and never feel rushed.
I can hang out and draw. When I was in college I would spend hours drawing when I was traveling.
I don’t need to have an itinerary. When you travel with others you kinda need a plan. You want to agree on which sites you want to do, when you want to eat, and when you want to go to the hotel etc. When I am on my own I can just do whatever I want to and I don’t need a plan.
You never have to worry about holding someone up or hurrying them along. This can be a tricky part of travel.
You don’t spend any time waiting for anyone. This is such a luxury. The thing about sharing a hotel room is that you have one bathroom, and as a result, I feel like you always end up waiting around for people to get themselves ready.
When I travel with someone else I feel like we are in our own little world. When I am alone, I feel like I am a part of the world around me. I meet more people and it becomes more of a cultural experience.
It’s extra important to be safe when you are traveling alone. Here are some little things that I do to stay safe.
Don’t walk alone on side streets at night, stick to busier areas. Take a cab if you are unsure.
I always keep a spare credit card and some cash in a locked piece of luggage in my hotel room so if my purse is stolen I still have money.
Never carry your passport around with you. Keep it at the hotel.
Leave expensive jewelry at home. If I am going to be traveling alone, I leave my engagement ring at home. I do wear my wedding band, and I do know that some wear where a fake wedding ring when they travel so that men are less likely to approach them.
Make sure your family knows where you are and check in with them. Give them a photocopy of your passport and license to keep just in case either are stolen.
Say you are Canadian. The American president is not popular abroad, so I say I am for Nova Scotia. But I’ve still had some awkward encounters. Everyone loves Canadians and saying you are from Canada won’t stir up any controversy.
Try to blend in. Keep maps and cameras in your bag. If you look lost you can be an easy target.
Have you traveled alone? Did you love it or hate it?