Why Choose to Travel Solo?


I decided to follow up on a previous post of mine, why choose to travel long term? by analysing another aspect of my future trip: solo travel.

The title of this post is somewhat misleading. Choose to travel solo? I didn’t have a choice. For those of you who have been following along, you’ll know I was originally planning on traveling the world with my long-term boyfriend. I’d been talking about travel from the age of 16, but I always assumed I would be accompanied by someone else. As my departure date reached the one year mark, my boyfriend and I started to look at this trip seriously and make some solid plans. Late last year, however, we decided it would be best for us to part ways.

Rather than giving up my dreams and thinking it wouldn’t be possible to travel anymore, I did the opposite. I started tentatively thinking about the idea of going it alone. At first it was just a pipe dream, but the more I researched the more I discovered that there are lots of females out there, traveling solo and having the best time ever.

Although it wasn’t an initial choice of mine, the more I’ve thought about it and the more I’ve planned and researched, the more I’ve realised that I want this! I want to travel solo. It makes so much more sense for me as a person to do so, and I’m confident that I made the right decision.

Why, given the choice, would I deliberately choose to travel alone?

The first point for me is freedom. Planning with my boyfriend made me realise that our trip would be about compromise. Being such different people, we both wanted different things. We wanted to go to different places and do different things. I wanted to stay in hostels, he wanted more luxury, I wanted to party across South-East Asia, and he did not. I don’t think you should have to compromise for a trip this important and life-changing. I understand that you should make small compromises in order to make your partner happy, but we were on complete opposite ends of the spectrum! Now I get to go wherever I want whenever I want, and do whatever I want. It’s pure freedom. I’ll be able to have a completely lazy day if I want and not have to feel guilty, and I can go somewhere I want without having to worry if my partner doesn’t want to do the same.

To be able to force myself into awkward situations. When I’m with someone I tend to take a backseat when it comes to having to deal with anything. I let them sort out money, visas, where to stay, everything! When I’m on my own, I’ll be forced out of my comfort zone and have to sort out everything by myself. While this is a scary prospect to me right now, it’s also exciting. I don’t have much confidence in unfamiliar situations, but there’s no way to gain it unless I put myself out there and force myself to deal with it. If I was traveling with someone else, I know I wouldn’t have to force myself to do anything, and I’d always have someone there to fall back on which I would take advantage of. I want to get out of my comfort zone!

To meet other travellers and make lots of friends. While I’m sure that as you travel in a group you are able to meet other people and travellers, I’ve also heard a lot that if you travel this way you are less approachable. I understand that. If I saw a group of travellers and then another solo traveler then nine times out of 10 I would approach the person alone. I know that if I did travel with a partner then it would be more than likely that most of the time we’d keep ourselves to ourselves and not make a huge effort to make friends. We’d have each other, and plan things to do together. On my own, I’ll be forced into situations where I may feel lonely, and at these times I want to be able to make friends and interact with other travelers. A huge part of traveling for me will be to meet other travelers – To hear all about their lives and adventures they’ve been on.

To be happy with just being Lauren. This is a point which is very personal to me. Ever since the age of sixteen, it feels like I’ve always been in a relationship, and it’s true. I’ve never taken the time to enjoy being single and enjoy my own company. I’ve always been part of a couple — Lauren and whoever. I think part of me feels like I can’t be happy on my own, and that I always need someone there for me to look after me and care for me. I don’t think this is healthy and I now believe that actually, in order to be happy in a relationship, you need to learn to be able to happy on your own first. By traveling alone and having to depend on nobody but me I think that it will open my eyes and allow me to see that it is possible to be happy alone, and that I definitely don’t need a man in my life to make me happy!

Of course, as well as the advantages, there are disadvantages too. Not being able to share all of my experiences with someone I care about, not having anyone to take loads of photos of me(!), nobody to care for me if I’m sick or help me out if I get in any kind of trouble… The list goes on…

But.. Despite those reasons, if I was given the option I would absolutely still choose to travel solo. It may not be right for some people, but it’s definitely right for me!

 

What are your reasons for want to travel solo or as a couple/group? Which do you think is best in your opinion?

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45 Comments

  1. John
    April 14, 2011
    Reply

    It seems to me that you are travelling for all the right reasons! I admire your courage and I also think this will open up many doors for you. You will learn a lot about yourself, and once your journey is finished, you will have a completely new outlook on life! I wish you all the best!

    • Lauren
      April 15, 2011
      Reply

      Thanks John, I really hope so… It can’t come fast enough now, I just want to get out there!

  2. Mike Lenzen
    April 14, 2011
    Reply

    I’ll be honest, I think I’d be a bit too chicken to travel solo. Fortunately my better half shares the same vision for our trip that I do. I’m very thankful for that.

    The advantages of solo travel exactly mirror the disadvantages we are going to have traveling as a couple. There’s no doubt that we are going to have to work hard to overcome these, especially since we are both introverts.

    • Lauren
      April 15, 2011
      Reply

      Those were my thoughts too at the beginning, that it was FAR too scary to travel alone! But sometimes, if that’s your only option to do what you want then you’ve gotta do it! Yes, I’d love to travel with a partner if we had the exact same vision… Maybe I’ll find a kindred spirit out there on the road! :)

  3. Drew
    April 14, 2011
    Reply

    Traveling alone seems like the perfect plan for you. No distractions! Just you exploring all the sights the world has to offer. You’ll be in foreign places with complete strangers, but you always know your friends are a quick IM or skype call away :D

    • Lauren
      April 15, 2011
      Reply

      Thanks Drew! It does seem to have all come together now, and just *feels right* :)

  4. Pamreader
    April 14, 2011
    Reply

    I adore solo travel. It’s the best thing that anyone can do for themselves for all the reasons that you’ve stated above.
    The freedom to do what you want when you want is fantastic. Because you’re not tied down you will soon immerse yourself in the culture of whatever country you’re visiting. You’ll make loads of new friends because travelling solo piques curiosity. Being mistaken for a local is one of the best compliments a solo traveller can receive!
    I hope that you have a wonderful time on your solo adventure,
    Pam

    • Lauren
      April 15, 2011
      Reply

      Thanks for commenting Pam :)

      I’d love to be mistaken for a local :D It makes me feel a lot calmer about my trip to hear from other people that have done solo travel and love it!

  5. Kantiki
    April 14, 2011
    Reply

    I love traveling solo! When I do travel with others, independence is a required character trait. If we can split up, have an amazing time apart, then meet up again down the line to share what happened while apart… then we’re going to get along just fine. Required.

    Be happy just being Lauren. It really is easier to get to know yourself without the “noise” and distractions of others around you. Love this post!

    • Lauren
      April 15, 2011
      Reply

      Thanks for commenting! That definitely sounds like a better way to travel with others… I hope I’ll be able to travel occasionally with some of the people I meet along the way! :)

  6. crazy sexy fun traveler
    April 15, 2011
    Reply

    Lauren, I so agree with you! I travel solo almost all the time and it is good to meet other people like you say. Then as well,exactly the thing that you do not have to do compromises, now I do what I want ;)
    enjoy ur trips!

    • Lauren
      April 15, 2011
      Reply

      Glad to hear from someone else who travels solo and loves it! I can’t wait to break free now and have days and days stretching before me where I can do whatever I like!

  7. Kirsten
    April 15, 2011
    Reply

    I think it’s great that you know so much Lauren. I also think it’s great that you look towards solo travel as a way to know yourself, even more – that’s certainly, from what I’ve experienced, one of the great perks of solo travel! Thanks for sharing!

    • Lauren
      April 15, 2011
      Reply

      And I feel like I know so little! I’m happy to hear that’s one of the things you enjoy about solo travel, I hope it will be for me too! :)

  8. Nicole @ WomanSeeksWorld
    April 15, 2011
    Reply

    I think what you are doing is a great thing and you so made the right choice to still go ahead with your plans, good on you! Its hard when your circumstances change but theres no doubt you’ll have a great time! Ive done a lot of solo travel and it really does help you grow as a person!

    • Lauren
      April 15, 2011
      Reply

      Hi Nicole, thanks! I have SUCH a good feeling about this, and I 100% know that I’ve made the right decision… It makes so much more sense to me than my previous plan. So even though I had to go through a really horrible break up, I can now see that good has come out of it too, and maybe this was how it was always meant to be… :)

  9. Benny
    April 15, 2011
    Reply

    To meet new friends would definitely my reason, if someday I choose to travel solo. Somehow, solo traveler is more approachable. And of you travel solo, you simply get new friends due to necessity.

    I also think it as a chance to contemplate. Granted, you will have quite too many time just to think about yourself, rather than traveling with a buddy.

    • Lauren
      April 15, 2011
      Reply

      That’s true, and something that hadn’t crossed my mind! I love going somewhere and just sitting and thinking, and letting my thoughts consume me. No distraction from anyone else, just me :)

      Hopefully I’ll make lots of friends out there, and I think solo travel is one of the best things that anyone can do in their life!

  10. Sunee
    April 15, 2011
    Reply

    I think it’s great that you’re not letting solo travel put you off. It must take lots of guts to set out into the unknown on your own. But I think you’ve managed to list all the reasons why it’s also good as well and I’m sure you’re going to have a grear time! :)

    • Lauren
      April 15, 2011
      Reply

      Thanks Sunee! I’m actually terrified about it, but also can’t wait to do it myself. Hopefully after a few weeks on the road I’ll settle into the rhythm of it all and it’ll feel natural and exciting :)

  11. Michael Hodson
    April 15, 2011
    Reply

    chalk me up firmly on the solo travel side of the ledger, for many of the reasons you cited. The freedom to do whatever you want is a big one — as if the freedom to not have any responsibility whatsoever for someone else’s happiness on a trip.

    • Lauren
      April 15, 2011
      Reply

      Hi Michael, thanks for commenting! That’s definitely true… I don’t want to feel like I’m doing things I don’t want to just to keep my companion happy!

  12. Dvora
    April 15, 2011
    Reply

    I’m an American currently living in Spain alone (I didn’t come alone; I’m getting divorced!). Some people think I will move back to the US but no, I’ll either stay in Spain or go to live in France.
    I’ve travelled to France twice on my own. I was a bit frightened the first time, but I really wanted to go and had no one to go with. I actually came to like travelling alone, mostly for the reasons you give. I wanted to eat at some upscale restaurants and did, although I found it more doable at lunchtime than in the evening. In fact, the only thing I found difficult was the evenings, as I didn’t feel comfortable going out at night alone.
    On one of my trips I met a retired couple who spend most of their time travelling all over the world and we hooked up for an afternoon. They later came to visit me here in Spain, and we still stay in touch, every now and then, via email. So yes, being on your own opens up the possibility of meeting people better than travelling as a couple does.
    Bon voyage Lauren!

    • Lauren
      April 15, 2011
      Reply

      Hey Dvora, thanks for commenting!!

      Sorry to hear about the divorce but I think it’s great that you’re thinking of yourself and not giving up and going back home just because times get tough!

      I hope I’ll be able to meet some life-long friends on my trip, and I’m looking forward to facing it all on my own! :)

  13. Leyla
    April 15, 2011
    Reply

    What a great post! It’s wonderful that you decided to go ahead with your plan, on your own. How sad it would have been to give that up. I was once in a similar situation and traveled – I was gone for three years and leaving was hands down the best decision I ever made. You’re so right about having to do things yourself and ending up out of your comfort zone – that’s exactly how it was for me. I was forced to handle everything – and I did. Well done!

    • Lauren
      April 15, 2011
      Reply

      Hey Leyla!
      It’s so great to hear stories like yours, and I’ve yet to talk to anyone who regrets going traveling which puts my mind at ease!

      Three years – wow, that’s so impressive! I hope I’ll be able to keep going for as long as that :)

  14. Mike
    April 17, 2011
    Reply

    Good for you. Especially agree with meeting other travelers and being happy with just being me. I started my trip for close to those reasons and it’s amazing what stepping out of your comfort zone will do for you. I would say it’s definitely better to travel solo. You’re gonna love it.

    • Lauren
      April 19, 2011
      Reply

      I have a really good feeling about it, and I definitely feel that getting out of my comfort zone will make me so much stronger, and turn me into a better person!

  15. Becki453
    April 17, 2011
    Reply

    Your reasons for going travelling solo are exactly the same reasons why i’m going travelling too – when I broke up with a long term boyfriend I suddenly realised I have the freedom to do what I want to do – and just like you, it feels right.

    As for solo travelling with blogs and twitter it seems as tho you’ll always have company and will always have the opportunity to meet up with people :)

    • Lauren
      April 19, 2011
      Reply

      It’s so nice to hear of other people doing exactly the same thing as me for the same reasons – I feel like I’m not alone!

      That’s definitely true, I love the travel community!

  16. Suzy
    April 19, 2011
    Reply

    Having just come back from traveling around Ireland solo for a month, I can completely agree with you and tell you that you will find all of those things you are looking for in solo travel. I had traveled alone here and there, but never for such a long period. It is a liberating feeling.

    • Lauren
      April 19, 2011
      Reply

      That’s wonderful to hear! I feel liberated by just booking the ticket and starting to plan everything out!

  17. Rosann
    April 19, 2011
    Reply

    Lauren, your reasons for traveling alone are very valid and it seems as though you’ve thought it through carefully. With internet and skype, you won’t be totally alone. After 30 years of marriage and a divorce, I travel alone, also. The positives and negatives are just as you mentioned. I’m off this fall for 3 months in Rome.

    Isn’t the planning just so much fun?? It’s like extending the trip for me.

    • Lauren
      April 19, 2011
      Reply

      Yes, I weighed up the pros and cons and came to the conclusion that I couldn’t possibly not go just because I’m feeling a bit nervous about gong on my own! The pros outweigh the cons a million times over!

      I LOVE planning! I’m almost more excited about the planning than the actual trip haha. I love researching new destinations, trying to piece all the routes together on a map and imagining all the adventures I’m about to have! :)

  18. Jeremy B
    April 19, 2011
    Reply

    I’ve done both – solo travel and travel a couple. Both are good and they teach you different things. Neither is better than the other per se but there are advantages and disadvantages to each. You mentioned some of them but given your situation, I think it is REALLY good that you take the time to find yourself. You NEED this time on your own to learn, grow, and find your own identity. Traveling as a couple will come and it will teach you new things about yourself. However, enjoy your time, have a great trip, and make sure you pause to reflect on who you are and the lessons you learn along the way.

    • Lauren
      April 19, 2011
      Reply

      I agree. I’m only 22 and it’s true that I don’t really know who I am yet. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to travel as a couple and experience that side of things too! :)

  19. Zoe
    April 20, 2011
    Reply

    Good luck on your journey! :D I’ve only traveled solo within my country but it’s definitely quite the experience. I love that travel allows you to be just yourself (and even let you know yourself more) :)

    • Lauren
      April 21, 2011
      Reply

      Thanks Zoe! Exactly, I can’t wait to find out more about myself haha :D

  20. Justin Hamlin
    April 21, 2011
    Reply

    I think the point you hit on is much more broad than just traveling. Relationships in any form are about compromise, while the single life allows for more freedoms and more selfishness. And there is NOTHING wrong with that.

    Traveling alone will definitely teach you A LOT more about yourself. You CAN be selfish and not have to worry about anyone but yourself, and that is so important.

    I think that compromise you talk about with your (now) ex-boyfriend is one of that age gap. I find myself as I get older (ya, older, LOL, I am 30) wanting the more luxury in life. I see all these kids backpacking across the world, and while I think of how cool that would be, I also look at the hostels, the transportation, and I just know that is not for me anymore. I want to travel and stay in hotels, eat at nice restaurants, drink wine and enjoy the finer things in life. But that is what makes us all different, and that is why I eagerly will follow along with your travels and live vicariously!

    Love the blog, by the way :)

  21. megan
    April 24, 2011
    Reply

    Congratulations on deciding to do your trip anyway – it’s the best decision you’ve ever made, you’ll see :)

    Solo travel is incredibly challenging and frustrating at times, but it’s also immensely rewarding. And why should you miss out just because you haven’t found the right person to share the experiences with??

    :)

  22. Nick Berggreen
    May 30, 2011
    Reply

    Great post, I think that solo travel is really the only option when it comes to personal development.

    When we’re surrounded by others, we tend to be influenced by their biases and opinions.

    When you’re on the road with nothing but your internal monologue–then I think you can really start to figure out “you.”

  23. nick
    May 31, 2011
    Reply

    hey, just wanted to say congrats and that what you are ding is awesome!!

    im 22 as well, and i too was planning on traveling with my long term girl friend, even had the trip booked, but, we ended up splitting up a week before the planned trip, and obviously it did not pan out.

    that week i promised myself i would take the trip over the summer no matter what, and here i am, less than 6 days away til i leave for europe(i know, not as bad ass as s.e asia solo) to back pack solo for a bout a month, mostly through italy.

    basically, just wanted to say congrats and that i think its really cool to see other like minded individuals such as ourselves :)

  24. Norm
    January 31, 2012
    Reply

    Hi Lauren, I must say that my reasons for leaving solo are pretty much the same has yours. The one difference I never had a chance to have a partner that was ready to leave on such a trip with me. So I waited for a long time to meet that person that would want to tag along. That person never came, so I finally decided to leave solo. And for all the reasons you cited I must say, I should have done this before. I thing I must say to whoever is waiting, don’t. Just go and live your dreams and don’t wait for others to have the same dreams has you do, that person might not come anytime soon. Do it. Great post by the way.

  25. Bruno
    April 19, 2012
    Reply

    Wow you’re just 22 and you have traveled this much! I envy you!!! Good luck traveling around the world!

  26. Natalie
    January 22, 2013
    Reply

    Hey,

    Great post! I totally agree that travel shouldn’t have to be about compromise, and it is so important to just be happy being you. I’m a little bit late to comment on this post, but was glad to stumble across it having followed your travels for a while and knowing how far you have come.

    It is always difficult to take that first step into traveling solo, but once you’ve done it that feeling of being able to achieve anything is something that no one can take away from you – I hope that you look back on this post with pride!

    I’ve been traveling for so long now that I sometimes forget to take a breath and remember how much I’ve changed and how much bravery it took me to get to this point. I love this post for bringing back all the memories of when I first set out on my solo adventure.

    Thanks for a lovely read,
    Natalie x

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