To travel is to take a journey into yourself – Danny Kaye
I’ve been reading a lot of articles recently that ponder the benefits of traveling solo. While travelling with others can be fun, there is something remarkable about making the journey by yourself.
My first solo trip was half a life time ago to Paris, France. It was a pivotal moment in my life, filled with excitement, anticipation and adventure. I was supposed to go with a friend, but she bailed at the last minute. I wasn’t deterred, especially since there was a ticket to Paris with my name on it. I decided to make the best of it and go anyway. I was lucky enough that I had a place to stay with a family friend, but the rest was all up to me.
I spent three glorious weeks in Paris in late December/early January. I wandered the city alone with my guidebook and a crappy camera (this resulted in very few good images), marveling at everything around me. The museums, the food, the people. I loved everything about it and to this day, Paris holds a special place in my heart.
Paris changed me forever. What begun as a whim, provided me with life-long lessons not only when it comes to travelling, but making me the person I am today. Perhaps it took me a while to recognize the importance of making that trip solo, but subconsciously I think I knew all along.
Solo travel teaches you self-reliance and independence
Before Paris, I’ve never really traveled anywhere internationally, especially not by myself. This was my first taste of adventure and a test of sorts, to see whether I could do it alone. I didn’t speak French and besides me, there was nobody there to relay on. Neither of those things posed any problems and certainly didn’t stop me from enjoying myself once I got there.
I’ve traveled alone a number of times since then, although it’s been mostly work-related rather than vacation. I’ve become very resourceful and very comfortable being on my own, whether it’s at the airport, train station, hotel or a new city. There is a certain sense of empowerment that comes with not having to depend on others and it’s great.
Travelling alone enables you to pursue your interests and discover new ones
The beauty of traveling alone is that you can do whatever you want. No compromising. Not going to places that bore you to tears simply because the person you’re with is dying to go. You also have all the time in the world to see and do what you want and how you want to do it. I love to walk and stop to take tons of photos which drives my husband crazy. When I’m alone I can take 100 pictures of the same spot for as long as it takes. I take a certain amount of satisfaction in that fact alone. 🙂
In Paris, I relied on my travel guide. I picked out places that interested me and I walked all over the city, often stumbling upon new and hidden gems that were not in the book. I would wander for hours, simply enjoying everything around. I love seeing pictures of Paris as it brings back the memories of my time there. I think it’s time to make a visit there soon!
Meeting new people has never been easier
Travelling alone can sometimes get lonely. You’re more likely to talk to others while you’re solo than when you travel with a companion. Sometimes you can meet some very interesting people you wouldn’t normally have talked to. Other solo travelers become kindred spirits who share your adventures even if it’s just for an afternoon, a meal or a train ride.
While in Paris, I once spent an afternoon in the Tuileries Garden with a very eccentric gentleman. He was few decades older than me, had a nicely trimmed beard and a red scarf. We had a conversation about the city and its many attributes and how lovely it must look during summer. Then there was an Australian backpacker who shared a coffee with me in the afternoon of New Year’s Eve. Would I have talked to them if I wasn’t alone? Probably not. They are, however, woven into my memory of Paris and the experiences I had there.
I think everyone should have at least one solo trip, not only to discover themselves, but also the world around them. Are you a solo traveler? What do you love about it?