Traveling Solo: Just Go



by DIWYY · 12 comments

I’m a huge fan of traveling solo. Sometimes I think maybe there’s something wrong with me because of it. I worry that it makes me anti-social or perhaps a control freak like I have to do it my way or no way. I admit that some of this may be true. I want to be able to control where and when I go somewhere.  If I want to make up my mind and leave within 30 minutes to drive across the country, I can and I really enjoy that freedom even if I may never do that.

I’ve had a few times where I did make up my mind and act on my decision immediately.  Like the time I was offered a job at a hotel in the Caribbean. Once I made up my mind that I wanted to go, I bought a ticket, packed my bags and was walking the beach in front of the hotel I was now employed at within four days.  Another time, I was offered a job on a yacht that wasn’t supposed to start for four weeks. Instead of waiting around to start my new job, I booked a flight to South Africa and left two days later for a three week backpacking trek across the southern part of Africa.

Would I have been able to do these things if I had a boyfriend?  Probably not, because I would’ve had to consider his feelings and concerns. Would I have been able to do these if I had to ask a friend to go with me? Doubtful.  Sometimes my moves are hasty, some might consider them rash, but my question to myself was always, “If not now, when?”  Usually my answers to myself were, “I’m young. I’m healthy. I have the money. Why would I not go?” After considering my options, I usually made my decision pretty quickly.

Now I realize that few people operate like me, but maybe they should. People often tell me that they wish they had taking the time to travel after college instead of settling down, working in a cube and making payments on their new flat screen TV/car/furniture.  I’m not saying that when it comes to traveling you have to get up and go immediately. There is definitely something to be said about planning and preparation, but if you are considering traveling in the near future, stop making excuses as to why you can’t go.

Going it alone

It makes me sad when I hear of girls who are afraid to travel alone.  They have no idea the excitement, adventure and fun that they are missing. Have you ever met many guys who say they want to wait until they find the love of their life before they travel? I haven’t. Although, I have met plenty of guys who told me they had a girlfriend back home waiting for them to return. What’s so bad about going somewhere on your own?

Think of your everyday life. Do you go to the grocery store alone? Going to the grocery store alone in a different country isn’t much different. It’s the same concept, just different packaging and products. That’s the fun part! Do you take the bus, subway, drive or walk by yourself when you’re in your hometown? It’s the same deal overseas. You’ll have to do those things, too. The only difference is you might need a map. Again, that’s the fun part.

Stop making excuses like you’ll be lonely if you go by yourself. If you’re going to be lonely, you’re going to be lonely anywhere. You can be lonely sitting on your own couch watching America’s Next Top Model. Might as well be lonely on a beautiful beach. I’m not going to lie. I’ve been lonely when traveling by myself before and it sucks. But I decided I’d rather be lonely and doing something awesome, than being lonely and not doing anything.

I went to Tokyo, Japan, by myself for my 25th birthday. Here I was in this beautiful city, couldn’t speak the language and I was desperately lonely wishing someone was there with me to share it. But it is what it is. There wasn’t anyone who could go with me so I went ahead by myself. If I had not gone because I was alone I would regret it to this day. I would’ve have missed this incredibly inspiring and gorgeous city. I’m glad I went. That loneliness I felt? A distant memory.

Part of the allure of traveling is discovery…not only discovering new places, but also discovering yourself. That’s difficult to do when you’re busy trying to accommodate the wants of other people you’re traveling with as well. I have made some of the very best friends by deciding to go it alone on trips by myself. Meeting people in hostels seems to be the way to go. You can always travel with a new companion and then when you want to go your separate ways, no one’s feelings are hurt. It’s understood that this is just the way it is.

Safety

It seems we live in a culture of fear when it comes to women traveling alone.  While of course it’s always important to take precautions when you’re traveling somewhere new, is being prepared to protect yourself in a foreign environment really all that different from just leaving your house on any ordinary day? Not really. It’s all about common sense no matter where you are. But maybe we are more vulnerable in new places because we get so excited about exploring we let our guard down in order to let in more experiences. That’s easily overcome the more you explore on your own and you perfect the art of travel. Practice makes perfect and I’m more than willing to learn.

So many times people worry about getting robbed in a foreign country and being stranded. Well, guess what? With all the traveling I’ve done I’ve been robbed three times and all three times were in the city I lived in. Each time was my fault. I left valuables in my car and opportunistic thieves took advantage of the situation. One of the times was when I lived in the Caribbean and in a way I did get stranded because my purse was stolen with my drivers license, credit card and passport inside. It was so stupid of me to leave that inside my car but I had stopped somewhere quickly and went inside to get a friend. I left my car unlocked and went inside for only five minutes. That’s all it took for someone to come by, simply open the door and grab my bag. I let my guard down. It was my fault. It took a lot of money and time for me to get a new passport shipped to me from the states (there wasn’t a US consulate on the island). I’m, obviously, fine now. But I learned a valuable lesson: don’t get too comfortable now matter where you are.

In the end, traveling takes courage. I’ve traveled around the world, sometimes alone, sometimes with big groups of people, but almost every time I go somewhere new I get scared.  It isn’t always a fear of flying or a fear of getting lost, most of the time it’s a general fear of the unknown.  That’s OK though and easily overcome. The unknown is going to come at us sitting on the couch in our own living room or while we’re sitting on a Caribbean beach drinking piña coladas. Which do you choose? Alright then. Just go!

Written by DIWYY co-founder, Jerri.

allison 1

Great article! Thanks for letting me know I'm not the only one out there. 🙂

Cailin 2

Great Article Jerri! I agree with it all! I love traveling solo because I can do what I want when I want, as selfish as that might sound.
I've been known to take sporadic trips myself! On Jan 29th of this year I finished my last day of work on a TV show, on Jan 30th I booked a flight to Australia and was gone that Wednesday Feb 3rd! I landed in Australia Feb 5th, booked a flight to Fiji Feb 6th and left Feb 7th! All because I thought it would be fun and a good idea, and I was right! 🙂 I highly recommend traveling solo to everyone, hence the reason I am starting my own travel show about just that! http://www.travelyourself.ca To show everyone exactly how awesome it can be 🙂

Kristin M 3

Thank you for this! I'm saving up and planning my first backpacking trip for (hopefully) next year and can show this to friends and family who I know will freak out about me traveling by myself. This should help prove to them that I WILL come back in one piece. 🙂

JerriGirl 4

Thanks Kristin! You will come back, but you won't be the same! You'll have learned so much and grown in so many ways. Have a great time!!

Jess 5

This is a great article, and 100% true. I went to Europe by myself over Xmas 2008 and had a blast. There are alternatives to travelling alone though for those who are still a bit scared. I did a group tour (as Id only just turned 18 and decided it was the safer option). This way I was still technically travelling alone and was able to do what I wanted when I wanted, but I still had a group to fall back on should I feel like some company. But I definitely recommend travelling alone, I intend to do it again this year (Hogmanay 2010!).

JerriGirl 6

Thanks Jess! Joining a tour is a great way to travel with other people but still be on your own. Either way, it takes a lot of courage! Hope your next trip is amazing!

hooidee 7

Me too, like to travel solo~planning to Tibet next, alone!

hooidee 8

Me too, like to travel solo~planning to Tibet next yr, alone!

JayJay 9

But, what about the fear of meeting new people, in a new environment….?

I just start to panic, and stress out, and I don’t know what to do 🙁

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