Sure, spending time in solitude in a monastery could be a fulfilling experience but traveling alone doesn’t have to be about complete solitude. Let’s take a minute to describe what I mean when I say, “travel alone”. Personally, solo travel is whatever you want it to be, whatever works for you. I would define it as; anytime you embark on a journey without a full-time travel buddy or group of friends. That doesn’t mean you are alone the whole time, you’re not a monk! You might;
- join a small group tour for a walk around a park or a museum,
- stay at a local hostel and enjoy the company of other travelers,
- find a “work-away” situation where you can stay with a host while you work for your room & board,
- meet up with friends or family for portions of your journey,
- or attend a Meetup or other gathering in the local area.
There are so many ways to mix up your alone time and create opportunities to interact socially. Personally, I have found that I need an ebb and flow to my alone time and my social interactions. I love being around people – friends and strangers alike. When I travel alone, I mix it up. I might stay in a hostel for a while, connect with people, make new friends, and then spend a few days secluded in at an AirBnB, making and eating dinners alone. I enjoy both; I can go out for a group dinner or trip to a pub and then later spend the evening out alone, people watching and taking in the scenery without interruptions or influences. I enjoy spending time wandering the streets of a new city or people watching in the park alone – I find that I can truly immerse myself in the environment when I am able to be in a place without distraction or interruptions. It is all part of the experience.
And so many wonderful things happen when you are alone. Don’t be afraid of boredom or loneliness – embrace the solitude. Check out this beautiful illustrated poem by Tanya Davis, I love the first stanza.
If you are, at first, lonely – be patient.
If you’ve not been alone much or if, when you were, you weren’t okay with it then just wait,
you’ll find it’s fine to be alone…
once you’re embracing it.
The poem so eloquently conveys the splendor of spending time alone. In Tanya’s words, “just wait” – you might be uncomfortable at first, you might feel awkward or unsure of yourself. But I promise if you “just wait” you will feel connected, you will find you belong in the space you occupy. Just be there. Take a walk in a new place, put your head up and look around. Look at the place and the people around you. Wander into a shop and just browse – take it all in. When you are alone, you can;
- do what you want,
- find the time and space to unwind and recharge,
- and without influences from others, you own your decisions and you will learn to trust yourself.
There are so many benefits of spending time alone. Don’t let your fear of awkwardness keep you from having a wonderful experience. Embrace your time alone and it will give you something amazing.
Traveling alone is more about independence than solitude. That’s not to say that you won’t have plenty of opportunities for solitude – but the reality is that you have the freedom to decide.
Looking for a new way to travel solo?
The Travel Ninja Programs are designed to help you find a new way to look at who accompanies you. Enjoy the freedom of independent, solo travel in a small group of women with the support and guidance of a host committed to encourage your solo travel adventures. Choose from Travel Ninja 101, a guided experience with pre-trip workshops to share with you tips and techniques that will give you confidence exploring the world independently. Travel Ninja 102 provides a host who will support you before and during your trip and a small group of fellow independent explorers.