08 Oct The Unexpected Joys of Solo Travel
“Solo Travel”: the concept almost sounds like an oxymoron. After all, don’t we typically travel to share the experience with others? I’ll be honest. Traveling alone was never something that sounded fun or desirable to me. A friend of mine would always talk about how great “the time I went to Paris alone” was for her. I could only say, “But you didn’t have anyone to share it with. How fun could that be?”
I soon came to realize, she was not alone. Repeatedly I’d hear people raving about the joys of traveling solo! I still didn’t quite “get it,” but I respected it.
And then finally I tried it myself.
See, I really wanted to take a research trip to Dubrovnik. I knew it was a hot destination for American travelers, and I wanted to make sure I had some firsthand experience with the city. I was unable to find anyone to join me, so my desire to explore the city outweighed my desire to have company while doing so.
I’d love to share what I thought was special about this type of trip.
Anyone who knows me knows I love people and am endlessly interested in culture. This was my first trip to Croatia, and I certainly didn’t know the language. But that didn’t stop me from communicating with the locals as I navigated through town on my own.
One day, I took the Game of Thrones Dubrovnik Tour. It was just a brother and sister and I traveling together on the tour. (They lived in India.) The brother and sister and I got to know each other along the way and spent some time walking around the city together after the tour. Traveling alone opened up a window of opportunity for me to get to know them. Perhaps I reached out in an attempt for connection, or they felt less intimidated to befriend me because I was alone, or maybe they pitied my lone state. In either case, I credit my solo travel for being the impetus for the friendship.
Another easy place to make conversation wound up being when I would dine at a table alone at a restaurant. Servers would take the time to chat with me, and a few times the other patrons dining nearby would too. I find that rarely happens when dining with a companion.
On this trip, I learned that there really is something quite great about having the flexibility to choose what you would like to see, do, and eat, as well as when. Not that I typically feel inhibited by my travel companions, but it was nice to just do whatever, whenever. This was especially great because when I finished my sightseeing each day, I’d go back to my room to do some work before going back out for dinner. I could do this without being concerned that I was interrupting someone else’s exploration time.
Ask solo travelers, and you’ll often hear them say that something unique happens when you travel alone in a new city. Suddenly, you notice everything around you in a way you might not have done while in a group. I felt this when in Dubrovnik. From architectural details to sounds in the distance, it felt like a personal connection through total immersion.
One of my favorite experiences on this trip occurred when I was walking the walls surrounding the city, and I was almost completely alone up there. (I might have encountered five other people, total, at various times.) It was during the slow winter season. Dubrovnik is notorious for being crammed in the summer, the walls packed with people. I felt very privileged for the rare opportunity to be “one” with Dubrovnik up there. As much as I would have loved to have shared that experience with someone, it feels incredibly special to have it as mine alone. That said, I made a video about it (above), so I can share it virtually with all of you.
Most of us feel some apprehension with the idea of traveling solo. But once you do it, it transforms you! Seasoned travelers often say it gives them a confidence boost, and I would have to agree. Now that I’ve done it, I feel like this is actually one of my preferred methods of travel. Imagine all of the travel possibilities that will open up to you when you no longer have to wait to coordinate with someone else, all the while not feeling like traveling solo is a sacrifice.
Are you thinking about traveling solo?
If you’re thinking about traveling solo and aren’t quite sure you’re ready to take the leap, please feel free to contact me. I offer Travel Consulting and Itinerary Planning Services and would love to help make your travel dreams become treasured memories. To download a sample itinerary, click here.
If you’re ready to go abroad solo but prefer to start with being a part of a multi-day, escorted group tour—I can help with that too. (I know of several that have little to no single supplement.)
Not sure where to start? Contact me for a free, no-obligation 20-minute consultation, and we’ll figure it out together!