Last month I went to Portland, Oregon on my own. I shared the experience on Instagram and the response was amazing. I got messages from women that I have never met before telling me that they were inspired to take a trip solo. Since the response was great on Instagram, I decided to write a blog post!
I am not writing this to justify my decision to travel alone, rather, I am writing this with the goal of inspiring other women to get out and see the world. I have eaten in cafes in Paris by myself. I walked through a forest of redwoods without another person in sight. I spent an afternoon tasting wine in Porto solo. I’ve even been to Venice on my own. How can I be lonely when there is a whole world to explore, filled with new people to meet?
If I waited around until someone was available to travel with me, I would be missing out on these adventures, and I would be traveling less. Instead, by traveling alone I get to see more of the world, and I get to do exactly what I want throughout the entire trip. Traveling alone is a very indulgent thing to do, and I love it. I have been traveling on my own at least twice a year, and I can’t get enough.
One of the most important skills that you can acquire as a traveler is learning to take the right person to the right place. Think about it for a minute. You probably know someone who would be bored to tears by spending a full day exploring museums. Maybe you are that person. You probably know other people who love the outdoors. Trips are more fun when the people on them are loving the activities. There are some trips that I know Charles will love, and his enthusiasm makes the entire experience even better. Then there is the time that I took him on a hike in Napa, which was not my best idea.
Vacation time is precious and I don’t think that people should spend it doing something that they don’t love. I also don’t want you to hold yourself back and not take a trip just because you can’t find someone to go with you. Go anyway. It is one of the most empowering things you can do.
Traveling with someone requires an almost endless series of negotiations. When to wake up, where to eat, when to eat, what to do, the ratio of activities vs. down time, when to go to bed, it goes on and on. When I am traveling alone I get to do exactly what I want, when I want.
I did a poll on Instagram Stories and 43% of my connections said that they have never traveled alone! If you want to travel alone, but are a bit intimidated, start with a simple weekend away someone near home. You can work your way up to international adventures where people don’t speak English. But traveling alone can open up so many new possibilities for you.
I think that one of the most daunting aspects of solo travel can be the idea of dining alone. I have learned to love it. First and foremost, you can likely grab a spot at a bar at a top restaurant without any problem. If you were a twosome, you might not be able to get in at all.
The thing is, once you grab that seat at the bar, you are going to meet people. You will meet the friendliest locals who will likely you tell you all the best things to do, and best places to eat. Sometimes you will meet other travelers, and swap stories about where you have been. Or you might chat with a bartender who can introduce you to your new favorite wine. You might be traveling on your own, but you won’t really feel alone. And, you can always bring a book with you just in case.
The other thing you can do if you are nervous about traveling solo, is to book tours. If you join a tour group, you will instantly have people to hang out with! I often join tour groups, and when I was younger I would frequently join pub crawls so I would have a group of people to go out with at night. I joined a pub crawl in Belgrade and it led to a hilarious night out with 8 fraternity brothers that involved taking them to see their first drag show. Somehow, the stories from my solo travels are always the best stories.
For me, there are trips that I want to take on my own, and there are trips that I want to share with other people. Road tripping in Ireland was something I was meant to do with my sister. Charles’s excitement over Tallinn made the trip so much better. At the same time, I loved exploring Portugal on my own and getting to be on my own schedule made me feel extra relaxed.