“Are you going by yourself?”
“But…how do you do that?”
“I get on the plane. And I go. By myself.”
I’ve had this conversation about 900 times. Do I not have any friends? Am I crazy? Am I getting deported? Why am I going alone?
It’s simple. To me, travel is a personal experience. It’s a chance to learn about yourself; who you are and what you want from life. It allows you to see how different the world is and to put your life in perspective. When you remove yourself from your life back home, you’re able to take that time to reflect and see things in your life a little differently. However, when you take a bit of home with you (i.e. a friend), that becomes a lot harder to do.
And then, when you are alone, there are no limitations. You can go north or south, by boat or by train, you can just sit on the street for the whole day and watch the world go by. There are no rules, no one hour lunch breaks. There’s no one else to worry about and no one checking up on you. You can eat whatever you want and sleep wherever you want. For once, you can finally just ask yourself what you want to do today, and then do it. In the process, you’ll learn things about yourself that will surprise even you.
“The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait until that other is ready.”
–Henry David Thoreau
One very common reason people have for not travelling is “I don’t have anyone to go with.”
That’s not a reason. It doesn’t even make sense. Are airlines only selling double passes now? Is there a buy one get one free sale?
Let’s get real. It’s an excuse, and not a very good one.
I get you, though. I’ll be the first to admit – that first solo trip is pretty tough. You wonder what on earth you’re doing. You’re afraid you’ll have no friends and you’ll be sitting in your hotel room watching TV for two weeks. I know, because I’ve been there. Trust me.
My first solo trip was to Málaga, Spain, four years ago. I went there to take a language course, thinking it would be cool adventure to tell my grandchildren. As soon as I got to my room I just lay on the bed for five hours, staring at the ceiling. I fell asleep. I woke up and stared some more.
“I want to go home,” I thought.
I was terrified to leave my room. I wondered who would be out there, what I would say to them. I wanted to eat dinner but I didn’t want to sit in a restaurant by myself. I’d look stupid. I didn’t even know if there was a restaurant nearby. Maybe I’d walk too far and I’d get lost. Maybe people would look at me funny. I couldn’t even speak Spanish! How would I order my food, or ask for directions? My stomach was growling, but I just couldn’t get myself to get up and go.
In the end, I didn’t eat dinner that night. I stayed in my room, watched TV on my laptop and went back to sleep.
Needless to say, things got better. But the only reason things got better was because I started making them better. And I only started making them better because I had to start making them better. If I sat in my room all day like a typical introvert, no one would’ve cared. No one would’ve even known. There was no best friend there to come knocking on my door, to hang out with all day, to talk to at lunch, to go on trips with. The only person I had to depend on was myself.
I started being more sociable. It was uncomfortable at first, but I did it. I made an effort to talk to people and introduce myself. I got to know all my classmates. I learned to say YES to every invitation, no matter what is was for or where we were going. Slowly, I started to see a different side of me. I loved meeting new people, learning new things. I found a new enthusiasm for life. And in the midst of it, I suddenly realised how constrained and limited my life had been back home.
By the end of five weeks, I felt completely at home in Málaga. I remember sitting in the taxi on the way to the airport, trying to talk to my driver who couldn’t speak a word of English. In my broken Spanish, we talked about his wife and kids, his hobbies, what it was like to grow up on the coast. I was amazed that we actually understood each other.
I stared out the window and thought about all the things I’d learned, how different I felt and how much I’d changed in such a short time. Just five weeks earlier I had been a frightened idiot too scared to leave my room to eat. Now I was chatting in a new language with a complete stranger and had made a whole new network of friends from all around the world. When it came time to board the plane, I was crushed to leave, but I was so thankful for the inspiration. Just one short trip led to so many positive changes in my life, ultimately leading me to the journey that I’m on today.
“We cannot expect to grow if we are too afraid or unwilling to change and face challenges. When we exit our everyday, mundane lifestyles to do something different we can experience growth, undiscovered strength, and new abilities within ourselves.”
People will ask, do you really need to go alone? Can’t you take someone with you? Won’t it be just as awesome?
Well, yes. I’ve travelled with friends and it was a lot of fun. But when you have someone with you, it’s just not the same. You have to agree on where to eat, where to sleep. You need to discuss what sights to see, how long you’ll stay. In times of uncertainty or loneliness you have someone to depend on and seek comfort in. More often than not, you will learn more about your travel buddy than you will learn about yourself. There will always be compromises, and whenever you compromise you are, by definition, settling for something less than what you truly want.
For that reason, I always encourage people to travel alone at least once in their life. An adventure with no limitations, no excuses and no compromises. It might be the scariest thing you’ve ever done, but if you do it, I can promise you three things:
- It’ll be one trip you’ll never forget.
- You’ll return home a completely different person than you were before, and people will notice it.
- You’ll want to do it again.
Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
Travelling alone has probably been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.
I feel like a completely different person than I was 4 years ago.
I believe in myself now.
I can depend on myself.
I’m not afraid to chase my dreams and try and build the life I want.
If something seems hard or awkward, I’ll do it anyway.
Failure excites me.
I want to learn and grow.
I see everything differently than I used to, and I don’t need alcohol or television or video games to have fun.
When I need to, I am able to simply sit in silence and just enjoy the company of myself. The world has become a completely different place.
Have you travelled alone before? Did you love it? Hate it? What’s your experience? Let me know in the comments below!
Travelling alone is indeed an awesome experience. You’ll get to know other’s and most importantly you’ll get to know your self more. The thrill and excitement of exploring every corners of the world and every corners of you – not to mention the thrill of meeting someone new – who knows that might be your next travel buddy or travel partner. Nice one Bren. You rock.
Hey Chad, thanks for your comments. Yes, an awesome experience indeed. Away from the comfort of home is the best place to learn about who you really are. Hope you continue to travel and explore!
This article wreaks of conceit. Not everyone is swimming in friends and some people actually travel alone because they have no choice but wish to go somewhere. But congrats for figuring out that you can go somewhere alone.
Thanks for your comments.
I don’t read conceit in this article. I see humility, evolving admiration and respect for others and self. I do as much traveling as I can afford to now, but when I was younger and had no responsibilities, I spent a lot of time traveling by myself doing things, sharing times with others and learning myself. I’ve known a lot of people whose greatest fear is being alone, for various reasons. Just like the author of this article, I’ll never have that fear again. I understand that not everyone will be able to make use of it like I did and do, but I encourage everyone I know to do some hardcore roaming.
I could never really justify to my peers why I enjoy traveling by myself. Your blog entry perfectly sums it up. This post is an enlightening read. 🙂
Thanks Jana! Perhaps you could share this with them, and maybe, they might understand at least a tiny bit 🙂 Keep travelling!
hi brendan, another person i’m following traverses similar track like yours… you may like checking him out. “www.thelonerider.com”
Cool, I’ll check em out.
Your article is awesome. Travelling alone is a fullfillment. This is a perfect timing to reflect your past experiences, to try new things without considerations and to fullfill a part of your life that you can never at least do in the next chapters of your life.
My thoughts exactly. I’m glad you’ve also discovered the magic of solo travel, I hope you keep on doing it. Thanks for reading!
I did enjoy reading your adventure and experience in your great journey,;), cool.. I remember my first time long travel by myself, Shanghai China, world expo..it was great experience 10 days just by yourself in a foreign land.. Not even speak nor understand the language.. Ha ha.. I did it and i will never forget the great thrill and fun of it!! Thank you for sharing your journey. Keep it up!
Oh man, world expo would’ve been amazing. Sounds like you had a blast and are now a keen solo traveller, good stuff! 🙂
I to travel with my friends but I love the most travelling alone. Next week will be my 3rd time to travel alone. But my only problem is I am always shy to approach stranger and initiate conversation. I really wanted to get new friends in all places that I am going to visit. Though in my recent travel I was able to get new friends but I really wanted to totally remove this problem and enjoy every single travel of mine. Hopefully you can give tips on how to overcome this problem.
Also, thank you for this one so whenever my friends and peers ask me why I love to travel alone I will just give this link and tell them to read..
Thanks a lot.
Awesome! Hope your trip is out of this world. Making friends on the road is always a bit nerve racking, that will make a good post topic so I’ll write something up on that soon 🙂 All the best!
Hi Bren… Thank you for this article. My friends always ask me why I love to travel alone. So this time, everytime they ask me why I will just send this lonk and tell them to read. 🙂
Also, I just want to seek an advice on how can I improvr myself in comes to meeting new friends while travelling alone. On my last travel, though I was able to get new friends, but I am still having trouble on how to approach a stranger because I am afraid to be rejected. Hope you can help me with this. Next week will be my next travel alone. Thanks.
Hi Arnel, yup, will write something up on this. Thanks for the great idea! If it makes you feel any better, I also have trouble approaching strangers – it’s scary for everyone!
One more thing that I forgot to mention, I am also an Accountant and like you most of times I almost think to quit my job and just explore the whole world. But for now, I really can’t afford that yet because I am still supporting my family here in the Philippines. But I am very sure that I will get a chance to fulfill this dream of mine in a perfect timing. Thanks.
Hi Arnel, I’m working on a lot of new content describing exactly how I made that transition from accountant to traveller. It’s a question I get asked a lot, so hopefully you’ll find it useful. To be honest, there’s no big secrets. It’s just working, saving and then taking the leap! So I’m sure you’ll be able to do it soon enough 🙂
In September, for the first timw, I will travel alone and out of the country. I am anxious about it and excited at the same time.
Don’t worry, I’ve travelled alone plenty of times and I still get anxious. I’m sure it’ll be an adventure you won’t forget. Best of luck!
“It was uncomfortable at first, but I did it. I made an effort to talk to people and introduce myself” I totally get this line.haha. I’m adding you to blogs I follow Bren. Great read!
Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it 🙂
Thank you for this article! I’ve been planning on going on a solo trip. Well, I have already booked a flight on September but can’t wait that long so I’m thinking of travelling alone this April (since it’s summer here in the Philippines).
Saw your Cagbalete Island post. I’d always choose an empty beach 😉
Looking forward to more posts from you 😉
You can check my blog if you have time – http://franzdomasian.wordpress.com
I’m sure your solo trip will change you forever. Maybe you can head to Cagbalete this April and see if you like it as much as I did 🙂
Great blog! I recently just came back from a month of travelling alone. Best…Trip…Ever…
I had the same feelings as well before I left(Will I meet anyone? What if I get lonely? What if this is a huge mistake?) and got asked the same questions. It’s as if people think you’re some social outcast travelling alone. I’m already trying to plan my next trip!
Keep up the good work!
Hi Jay, that’s awesome – where did you go?
Nice post Bren
I really believe solo travel is something that everybody should experience at least once. I backpacked through Europe for 3 months by myself a few years ago and it was one of the best times of my life. You’ll instantly get on well with other solo travelers in my experience and the rest will admire the fact that you are traveling alone.
Plus you don’t have to feel obliged to do or see something that you have no interest in just because your friend wants to.
Love a city you just arrived in? Stay an extra week. Don’t like it? Leave tomorrow. Ahhh Freedom 🙂
Hi Joey, I couldn’t agree more. I’m actually heading to Asia with some friends next year and just the amount of planning and discussion is driving me crazy. I’ve always found the most incredible travel memories are built when you just show up and let things happen. If you end up on the street with nowhere to stay, well, that’ll be a good story at least 🙂
I haven’t done Europe yet – need to get there soon though! Any fave spots?
I totally agree with you. Traveling alone has made me a better person. And, in my return people noticed the change. I become someone who is not afraid to get lost without a map knowing fully well that I’ll surely find my way. I have learned to depend on my inner strength and to trust people around mindfully without hesitation.
Your blog is truly inspiring. Kudos to you! Enjoy life!!!
So glad solo travel has helped you grow, and I have no doubt people have noticed it. I agree, getting lost isn’t scary anymore, in fact, it’s necessary! Off the map is where you find the treasures…
I have got to agree with you. I did a solo trip last year! And I also moved to a new city 14 hours away from home. It was difficult at first but so glad I did it. You kinda see the different side of your that you never seen before. The person that you thought you were is no match to the one you really are. Great article Bren! Keep up the great work.
Hi Christine, yes it’s definitely amazing how much you learnwhen you go through those experiences. Just shows you how little you really know about yourself. Thanks for sharing!
The way you described your first time traveling alone is EXACTLY what I felt. I traveled for 15 hours on a bus overnight on my own, arrived at my hostel totally exhausted, and agonized for a whole 7 hours before venturing on my own for food. I was also afraid to eat alone, be seen alone, etc… I felt immediate loneliness, but then I realized that being on your own isn’t that threatening at all. Ended up having a blast that evening. Now I just signed a contract to head to Korea to teach and I’m so stoked! Still a bit nervous though.
Thanks for this!
Hi Meaghan, sounds so silly when you look back on it right? I can’t believe I didn’t eat dinner that night. And even now I still get nervous, so perhaps that nervousness never really goes away…
Thanks for sharing, and I hope you have a blast in Korea 🙂
I don’t think it ever quite goes away, but it certainly gets easier! Thanks so much. I’m looking forward to reading your eBook. 🙂
Yes, definitely gets easier.
Hope you enjoy the book! If you get the chance please email me afterwards and let me know what you think 🙂
Im a girl and i travel alone quite often. People always give me the ‘are you crazy’ look everytime i did so, but i’ve learned to ignore them because they don’t know what they are missing! I know safety can be an issue for many, but as long as you keep ur common sense and avoid doing stupid things, you’ll be fine. I love and enjoy traveling alone – the freedom and thrill of being able to do anything anytime you want is awesome. I can have very late breakfast and eat only when I want to, or choose to lie on the beach n read my book where no one wld bother me. And i can plan my activities according to how i feel, without having to worry abt my control-freak friends getting impatient with me. Lol.
I agree, I like to move slower than most, and also like to wake up later than most. Being alone just allows me to enjoy thing at my own pace, and the freedom to connect with the places I go to in my own time and in my own way. There’s really nothing else like it!
I started my first own travel just 3 years back, Becos I travel alone, I dun have to give anyone any answer on where I will be heading too, when I want to go to another location, what I want to do down there, and so on. I travel with a no itinerary, but at least give myself a certain date that I must be back to my country… Well… It is totally a free and easy trip.
Becos of my trip, I get to know alot of friends along the way… If time permit, I will be back on my personal trip again, although the trip can be back to the same place again, but at least, I can be back to meet my friends whom I have known during my trip… 🙂
That’s the best part – not having to answer to anyone! Thanks for reading 🙂
I did my first solo travel when I was around 16 years old, I went to China, Suzhou to live in a host family and learn the chinese language, culture all because I felt this tingling feeling within me I had to go. When over there I learned a lot of things, never host family again, my family I lived with was the kindest people ever, but it made me feel restricted. I learned to just accept photographs, before china I would punch someone and destroy the camera they had photoed me with. I learned a lot of small things like that. I got a lot of good friends. I learned to know someone from Venezuela and he’s one of my best friends. So I did a solo trip to meet my friend in Venezuela when I was around 18 years old for a month. One of the craziest months in my life. Best adventure I’ve been to. After that I moved and lived in Japan for 6 months, just as amazing as I thought it would be. Thank you for writing this amazing article and putting my love for solo traveling into words.
Hey Simon, thanks for sharing. I’ve been to Suzhou, must have been interesting to live there! Glad to see solo travel has helped you evolve and given you a sense of adventure. Keep travelling!
When I decided to take 2 weeks off my busy schedule to plan a backpacking trip overseas alone, many of my friends around thought it was a ridiculous idea. I honestly didn’t know what I was expecting when I was there alone, but it has been the most wonderful experience in my life so far. I agree with everything in your post and I strongly urge everyone to at least try it once in your life. Thank you Bren, for your inspiration!
Spend three weeks in wandering around Western Europe alone. Initially, it was never meant to be a solo trip – I went with two friends from high school but split from them after three days because I got really annoyed with one of them because he was always complaining I was walking too fast and didn’t like his way of travelling in general.
In retrospect, it was prolly one of the best experience I had. Had loads of fun meeting random like-minded people and locals, couchsurfing at random strangers houses and enjoy chilling out and wandering the streets at my own pace! Didn’t regret my decision one bit!
I used to think travelling alone was pretty awkward and for loners but you just need to open-minded and look out for friendly like-minded people because they’re all around! Just takes a simple introduction!
Off for an one-week overland trip to Thailand and Cambodia 😀
Hey Jonathan, that is probably the main reason I travel alone, I hate compromising on the things I want to do to accommodate other people. I see groups of friends arguing and complaining in hostels all the time because so and so is late or because they can’t agree on where to eat etc; seems like they end up hating each other after a while! Going solo is really so much more relaxing, for me anyway.
Thank you for ur blog I enjoyed reading it.. I think it is the best answer to all of my friends and family who asks me ‘ why i love to travel alone’.
Thanks Novie, yes, it can be difficult to explain sometimes I know. Glad you enjoyed it 🙂
I am 1/4 way through my first solo trip. ive just spent 10 days in thailand with family, then 13 days in cambodia alone, now in singapore for 3 days then 3 weeks in bali then ozzie to see friends then home to nz. holy shit that first week in cambodia was hard. i was so scared and just wanted to go home. i can relate to you so much bren! But i can feel that fear sliping away. im so glad that im doing this and i know ill be a different person when i go home. solo traveling is definatly something i reccomend. its so rewarding to challenge yourself and face your fears and to see that its not that scary anyway! Thanks for this article bren!
Those first few days are so uncomfortable right? But I’m glad you got over it and it sounds like you’re starting to enjoy yourself. Thanks for sharing your story here, it’s nice to know others experience similar feelings that I did. Enjoy Bali and Oz, and welcome to the world of solo travel.
Hi Bren, thank you for another great article. That I had no one to travel with caused me to miss the chance to travel around Asia when I had the chance. When I moved to Europe seven years ago, I made sure I didn’t make that same mistake. I have been enjoying traveling solo ever since and have been having a blast. Through the experience, I also realized that I have become more relaxed when I travel with other people too.
I think a lot of it has to do with learning to enjoy the company of yourself. When you feel comfortable alone and in your own skin, being around other people becomes a lot easier too. I’m jealous you’ve been tripping Europe, it’s a continent I’ve seen very little of!
As a woman, I find travelling solo so liberating. I took my first solo trip a couple of years ago and it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. It opens you up to the opportunity to meet people, and gives you the freedom to do and see what you like instead of having to halve your time to meet the needs of another person. While I now travel in a couple and I love it, I’m so glad I got the chance to experience travelling solo, and I look forward to taking another trip alone in the future!
Great piece, by the way.
Hi Andrea, I agree completely, I love the freedom, especially when hearing other travellers argue for hours about who/where/what to see and eat. Sometimes it’s just nice to have all your time to yourself 😀
The last paragraph nails it. I am a completely different person from the one who left her hometown with teary eyes and a red puffy face. If only everyone pushed past the fear…
Oh, and I’m certainly different from the self doubting accountant who was too scared to eat alone in a restaurant, even one in my hometown! As they say, throw yourself in the deep end and see what comes out. Hope you’re well and safe wherever you are 🙂
I mostly traveled all by myself cause i don’t want to wait for anyone to go with me. Less stress too – no winging, nagging, etc.
Some colleagues and friends found me nuts! Why solo? Hey your a female. Aren’t you afraid? I was like why not?! It’s even more scary staying at your own backyard (with a sound of sarcasm haha).
Awww great post Bren. Keep on writing. You inspire me already!!!!
Btw, where in the world you are right now?!
I’m currently in Asia, in Manila for the weekend and then to Bangkok next week. And you?
I just come accross your blog, and I want to thank you for the thoughts you wrote down here, i totally agree with you! Travelling alone is the best way to feel free, and to get to know who you truly are.
4 years ago i was a 18-year-old girl leaving my homecountry (France) for a year, and it was my first solo trip ever. I was just so excited and couldn’t wait to meet the Australians, and to discover their culture. I was about to be an exchange student and it was such a great feeling! I wasn’t worried about anything, I was so confident about this great experience I was going to live!
But then at the airport, a woman came and said “Adeline I am sorry you won’t leave with the other AFS students.” I was supposed to fly with them and it was reassuring for me (and for my family!!). Suddently i felt so bad and anxious – it was the first time on a plane! – and yet i had to say goodbye to my family. We all cried so much, i was just so disconcerted! Why was i leaving ALONE?! “I am so damn crazy to leave my family and friends to go to the other side of the world where i don’t know ANYONE”. “What if they don”t like me?”. “What if i don’t get along with my host family or the people at school?”. “What if i get lost and miss the plane in Dubaï?” – “I don’t even speak English, how will i survive??”…
And then on the plane i met some very nice people, trying to make me feel better. They started talking to me and they said i was brave to go on exchange and that even if i may feel homesick sometimes, it would change me forever.
And it has truly changed my life! Once i arrived DownUnder, I met my host family and they gave me so much love. It was a pretty hard experience at school for different reasons, but it made me stronger. And I met my best friends there after several weeks of loneliness. I still keep in touch with them, and guess what? I just turned 22 and I am leaving for a year again. I am going to the US this time.The great thing is that most of my Aussie friends are going on exchange in the US. It means after 4 years we will meet up again soon, in a new country!
You know when you are on your own in a country far away from anyone you know, you make effort to be friendly, and then it is no longer an effort. It gets normal to have the willing to share a talk or to give a smile to a stranger. And people are awesome when you pay attention to them! You make the best to be happy and free.
I am very often asked “why do you leave alone again?” and i answer : “because then i can travel wherever i want, and spend my free time the way i like! That’s freedom and it’s wonderful.”
Of course I am still a little bit worried about the life I am going to lead over there. I still fear I might not make friends at uni. But it’s just such an rewarding experience that I don’t mind about being alone for some days/weeks/. As long as I dare make the first move to get to know people, I sure will meet some great people!
Keep travelling, it sure makes you grow into a better person! 🙂
Hi Adeline, looks like you are starting your adventuring at a young age. I wish I had done the same! In fact, I plan on studying French in France next year (it was supposed to be this year, but sh*t happens), and even after all my travels I’m still a little nervous about doing it. But I’m sure it’s going to turn out just fine, as it always does. Good luck in America, I’m sure you’ll love it.
I kinda have a different opinion on some points. I never liked travelling alone. Alone time is good sometimes, but not when travelling. To me, it’s not really a chance for self-reflection (I have meditation, prayer time, and strolling-in-the-beach time for that) but it’s about sharing our sense of wonder for the beauty of our world with the people we love. We only live a very short while; we have all the time to be alone when we die. I kinda don’t see the sense in having a beautiful experience and no one there to share it with…and i think that’s kinda the point of it all. I like to live my life seeing my family and friends living their lives to their fullest, and I want them to want me to be there when they do (as I do with them)…even if it means lugging extra baggage, or waiting for late comers, or arguing which attraction to see first… because that’s kinda the point of it all, isn’t it? It’s those little moments with those people who matter that make up those beautiful memories that will mark our beautiful lives. 🙂
It’s nice to hear the other side. I get you too, I really do miss my family and friends when I’ve been travelling too long. But when you’re alone, you will never fail to make new friends, and the friends I’ve met travelling have become some of my closest. So it’s not so much about being alone in the literal sense, because you will certainly meet new and interesting people to share your experiences with. Not that I disagree with you though, travelling with friends and family from home can be just as rewarding. Thanks for sharing your comments!
Just wow! It hit me bulls eye. Darn! You’re so good in inspiring other people. I am actually travelling alone to Phuket for the first time next year to study TEFL for a month. That is actually the reason why I started to read travel blogs, just to know something (and assure me that everything will be okay). Most of the blogs I read actually talks about itineraries, which is really helpful, but this one, this article is a whole new level. It actually made me pause for a while and reflect.
for a person who is planning to go on solo trips in near future,this is a really inspiring article ..thanks Bren.. 🙂
Thanks Arjun, all the best for your upcoming travels. Just relax and soak it all in, it’ll be over before you know it.
There is always a thin line between being alone and actually being alone. While on a solo trip, you are out to explore the world and yourself.
Hi Bren great article can I ask how did you find this language course? Also I am thinking of travelling in Spain any thoughts ? I have heard the trains do 180 mph thanks Ben
Hi Ben I just found it online. Languagecourse.net is quite a good resource. The school I studied at was called Malaca Instituto in Malaga. Hope that helps!
This made me really miss travelling! The last time I travelled alone was in 2012 after I quit my job. It would have been so different if I had gone with family, friend or my husband. My dad, of course, freaked out appropriately.. Haha. Travelling alone is something I’ll definitely be encouraging my daughter to do someday (with her own money, preferably). I guess the next time I take solo trips would be when the kid is in college, in about 17 years. Gaaah!
Hi Anne, I can imagine it gets hard to take these trips once you settle down and have kids, but it’s still possible – just try taking a short road trip on your own for the weekend or something. I do that quite often and the solarity is still soothing, if only for a short time. Good luck!
Hi Brendan, what is your thoughts on travelling with a girl? Surely you must have had plenty of offers you stud!
Hi Browntown. Obviously it depends on the girl. A good looking lad like you would probably do well to take a girl with you to keep you well behaved and all…
Just stumbled across this blog trying to search for “thing to do” and love it. Here from the USA for the next few months for work. First time I’ve ever traveled alone or been this far away…always wanted too, but never had the chance till now. However didn’t realize how different it would be entertaining myself and being alone. Been here 2 weeks now and am starting to get out and about. Am worried that I will waste this opportunity sleeping(work nights) and being apprehensive. Your blog gives me hope and guidance.
Don’t be so hard on yourself – I’ve just landed in Uganda and have spent the last 4 days moping in my hotel, and I’ve been solo travelling for years! It’s totally normal to feel that discomfort and take time to find your feet. As long as you find them in the end, that’s all that matters 🙂
The thought of traveling the world has been in me since I was a child. I’ve got severe anxiety and am deathly afraid of traveling alone…but I’ve been communicating with a girl from Romania for about 5 years through the internet…I have finally applied for a passport and am making a trip to go next year…Never been more terrified in my entire life, going from the USA to Romania all alone, for a week only, but that will definitely not be the end…if all goes well I might plan to move there or move her here so we can travel the World together either way.
All I can say is, you will never know until you try. It’s good to be afraid – life would be boring if we had no fears to conquer. I would highly recommend having a read of this post by my friend Lauren – it may resonate. http://www.neverendingfootsteps.com/2014/07/18/travel-changed-my-life/
I want to be a solo traveller…but i have not enough money to do so…
So give me some information to help me..
Hi Gaurav, my free ebook discusses that area in great detail. You can grab a copy at http://www.brenontheroad.com/subscribe.
Hey Bren, I’ve traveled to Asia and Europe several times alone and totally recommend it. Had a partner for 11 years and that travel was just fine too but going it alone i found out that i actually met more people, both locals and other travelers.
Some of those people became some of my best friends like in 1987 I met Jim from Ottawa at a youth hostel in Cherbourg, we got locked out getting a beer late that night and traveled for a couple of weeks in Italy and Greece. After that we met in person every year for six years in Banff, Holland, USA, and Ottawa. He married the Dutch woman we met on the beach in 1987.
After I saw your article earlier this year i remembered that i met him traveling alone. so i looked Jim up in Ottawa after 18 years of lost contact, then i met him and his Dutch wife Rita in Ottawa in July 2015. When i walked in the door their kids were like, ‘Hey we heard you were the reason my parents met on a beach in Greece, tell us stories about your trip.’
Totally sure it’s because i was traveling alone that i found people i really connected with outside of my home town/country.
Then i retraced our 1987 itinerary through France, Italy and Greece in September 2015. This time I met a couple of more friends. Something about traveling alone in another country makes for strong friends, good stories to write about too.
Hi Michael, what an awesome story. Always nice to reunite with old friends and see they’re still alive and happy somewhere in the world. Glad you can still reminisce about those old travels so many years later. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for writing this. I am leaving for Spain in about a week and a half for my first solo trip and this was just the boost of courage and security I needed.
Can’t wait for what the world has in store for me. Hopefully when I come back I can also inspire others, women in particular, to participate in more trips by themselves.
I am also heading to Spain at the end of this month. Perhaps we will cross paths! Stay in touch 🙂
All my life I have been travelling with a company and I have never tried travelling alone, until I have tried it. i booked a ticket to a nearby country and traveled all by myself and the experience was unforgettable and the best travel I ever had. No itineraries to follow and adhere, no companion to ask where to eat, what to do and where to sleep. The feeling was so great and you’re right!
Awesome man, solo travel is a whole new world. Best of luck for your future adventures.
I’m glad I’ve just read your article. My now ex-girlfriend broke up recently but fact is that I have already bought a non-refundable 4 days trip to Malaga… well I have checked if I could still get a refund but well I’m (double) screwed… :/
I’m leaving in two days, departure the 1st of June 2016 from Paris and I must say I do know exactly the feeling you are describing since I have encountered similar issue when I have to travel alone for my work somewhere for few days… but at least this only occurs by nights, not during the day when you have works to do.
I’m scared man, I don’t really know how I will handle this but I do know I can learn a lot from this misadventure.
I’m not angry against my gf or whatever, this is life. I just hope I will have the strength to still appreciate this trip there.
Thanks anyway for sharing this, I know I’m not the only one or last to do this but it really helps me getting on board and to just do it.
I know your post is a couple of years old but it has inspired me. I am nearly 50. A single man, fit, healthy and in good shape. My mindset is still one of somebody 25. I have my own, small home, a steady job and friends but there is something missing. So I am planning on taking a month next year, on my own, backpacking around Thailand.
I have never traveled much, out of my own country (UK) and the thought of backpacking on my own, in a totally alien country, both excites me and terrifies me. I can imagine feeling the same as you did when you first went to Spain but the more I read articles like this one, the more I get inspired. The itch at the back of brain that says ‘Just do it’ just gets louder.
I feel I need to ‘experience’ life and change myself. I always used the excuse ‘I would love to travel but would like to do it with a partner’. However after yet another, recent rejection from a woman, who then met a famous, adventurer with his own island (I personally think he is an egotist who does what he does for attention. Not a real traveller/Adventurer in my eyes) it made me realise I can do it solo. I don’t need to rely on somebody else to fill that emptiness. I can do it myself and experience the world at the same time.
Thanks Bren. happy Traveling
Hey Sean, congrats for committing and good luck. Travel is a very personal journey in my opinion and no comrade is needed. You’ll have a blast.
Hello. I liked reading your article. It is exactly how I am feeling about my trip to Madrid, Spain… Not really sure what to expect.. I’ll be going alone and will be staying in a strangers home for a month.. I’m a shy guy… so we’ll see what happens… For sure, the experience will be life changing.
Thank you for sharing.
Madrid is a beautiful city and I’m sure you’ll have an awesome time. Remember, everyone in your life was a stranger at one point 😉 Best of luck!
I am also heading to Spain at the end of this month. Perhaps we will cross paths! Stay in touch.facebook
Cool, enjoy your trip!
I like this post, enjoyed this one regards for putting up. “I would sooner fail than not be among the greatest.” by John Keats.
Some real points here. I am currently teaching in South Korea. I knew a few people coming here but ultimately I’m by myself and I’ve had to face certain aspects and perceptions of myself that I wouldn’t have had to deal with at home.
It is nice not waiting on anyone thats for sure!
Looking forward to reading more of your work
In my opinion, you didn’t really travel alone. Going to a foreign city to take classes for an extended period of time by yourself is not at all the same thing. It means you are living in a place and you will meet your classmates who will eventually provide you a nice social outlet — the fact you got invitations to gatherings proves the point. Perhaps you’ve gone on vacation alone and didn’t use it in this example…
I’ve done a lot of solo travel and have to say it’s really not as much fun as being with friends. It’s frankly just more expensive and lonely after a while…
Done both. I travel alone 90% of the time. Can be lonely sometimes, but I love it.
I’m on the brink of solo traveling and indeed afraid off all the things you described(especially the hotel part ;)) Also I’m a tad older (50+) But I’ve put myself in a point-of-no-return position. Your post was really helpful facing my fears.
I just read your 2014 article on traveling alone. Oh my goodness. I could not agree more. I am the opposite end of the age spectrum and I've been traveling alone off and on since 2004. My last trip was to Iran at the end of 2019 and it was fabulous. And..yes. I got all those same questions. "You can't go alone! Why don't you go on a tour? How will you do that? How will you find your hotel? How do you know what you want to see? What if something happens? etc etc
Sooo frustrating. I love setting my own itinerary, hiring local guides, searching out local music and language opportunities without having to get someone else's agreement, eating when and where I want or not at all, talking to people when I'm eating alone and researching the sites that meet my own interests. Only mine.