Enter your email to download Tips for the Fearless Female Traveler from Lonely Planet’s Solo Travel Handbook, and get ready for the trip of your life.
Back in my 20s, I had what many would consider a dream job. I was a staff writer and editor for a national travel magazine. This meant that I got to literally globetrot around the world. There was a catch, though. My travel was paid through the magazine, so my friends—most of who were just starting their careers on entry-level salaries—rarely could afford to join me. That meant traveling solo much of the time. Was I nervous? You bet. Did it seem ludicrous to head to India, Peru, Japan and beyond as a young woman on her own? Absolutely. Did I have some of the most amazing, meaningful experiences of my life? Yes!
Here’s the thing about traveling alone: You get to call the shots and selfishly—luxuriously—do exactly what you want to do. You can eat when and where you want, take in sights that interest you, change your mind on a whim. If you’re like many women, you may be that person who tries to please everyone, be it your friends or your partner. If so, a trip without others will finally allow you to focus on your own needs and wants. Plus, without the constant chatter from a fellow traveler, you soak up things without distraction—and gain a better sense of the place itself. You also get a better sense of you. When your only companion is yours truly, your mind begins to quiet, and you may have incredible epiphanies—about your life and what you want from it. At first, it may feel lonely, but once you push past that initial shock of being by yourself, things get much easier, and you begin to trust your intuition, which is something that will serve you well, long after your trip has ended. Don’t be surprised if you quit your job, dump your partner, or decide to move to an entirely new city when you get home. Traveling solo can seriously shift your priorities—often for the better.
There are so many benefits to traveling alone, in fact. You learn to take responsibility because there is no one to help you plan your itinerary or decide which way to turn (kind of like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz when she meets the scarecrow!). This may sound scary, but it’s actually incredibly empowering. Likewise, you learn what your limits are. Maybe you’re not as comfortable as you thought you’d be on that multi-day wilderness hike without a shower. So, what? Find something that makes you happier! Perhaps one of the best perks of traveling solo, though, is that you open up to meeting new people (again, think Dorothy). When you’re out on your own, other solo travelers seem to come out of the woodwork. Without a buddy, you’ll soon find yourself chatting up people on buses, at hotel bars, maybe on the top of a mountain or at an ancient ruin. I discovered that when I’m in a foreign place alone, with my senses heightened and my sense of self at its strongest, I can open up to people in a way that is somewhat counterintuitive to my usual nature. As a result, I had intensely deep connections with people, some of whom became lifelong friends (and even one boyfriend).
Of course, as with any travel, traveling solo requires preparation and a focus on safety. Get the scoop on traveling alone, safely and happily. Enter your email to download Tips for the Fearless Female Traveler from Lonely Planet’s Solo Travel Handbook, and get ready for the trip of your life.