On the Road: Opportunities for Personal Growth through Solo Travel

Patagonia, Argentina
Copyright JC Politi Photography

Being solitary is being alone well: being alone luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice, aware of the fullness of your won presence rather than of the absence of others. Because solitude is an achievement.
– Alice Koller

Have you ever traveled alone? Would you? Why or why not?

An article in Lonely Planet tackles this issue and provides some tips for women travelling alone. The article is called, “Conquer Your Fear: 4 Tips for Solo Women Travelers.

This article made me think about my own experience traveling alone. When I was in my mid twenties, I lived in Austin, Texas and spent a few years learning how to be alone, getting to know myself better outside the constraints and expectations of family and friends, truly learning how to savor opportunities for solitude.

To further my personal growth, I planned to travel alone to the Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion national parks. But at the last minute, I got cold feet and asked a friend to go along. That turned out to be a bad decision; this person is, sadly, no longer a friend for a variety of reasons.

The chemistry on the trip was not good and it put a dark cloud over the whole experience. I was disappointed in myself for chickening out and promised myself I would not let that happen again.

Ocean City, Maryland
Copyright JC Politi Photography

About a month later, I took my first solo trip. I drove up the west coast on the Pacific Coast highway in a rented convertible. This trip was absolutely life-changing and ignited my passion for solo travel.

After that trip, I took many trips by myself, including a month-long trip to Guatemala before I spoke a word of Spanish.

While I love traveling with my husband or with friends, solo travel will always hold a very special place in my heart.

There is a beauty to being able to control every aspect of a trip, from what sites to see, to what time to wake up.

You can even control bathroom breaks without worrying about disrupting someone else’s plans. Such luxury!

Venice, Italy
Copyright JC Politi Photography

Getting over the initial nerves of a solo trip can be a challenge, but it can also be one of the best opportunities for personal growth.

I am glad I overcame my fears and would love to hear readers’ stories about their fears or passions for solo travel – or both.

What do you think? Have you ever taken a solo trip? Where did you travel? If you haven’t done this, do you have fears of this type of experience? If you have done this, what did you learn along the way? Why do you think we have a fear of traveling alone? Do you prefer to travel alone or with another person? Why?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading.

If you liked this, you might also like:

Around the World in 80 Days: Would You Do It?

What Makes Amelia Earhart So Captivating?

Is There Room at the Inn? The Eternal Quest for the Perfect Getaway

52 Comments

Filed under Culture, Education, Environment, International, Parenting, Photography, Photos, social pressures, Stereotypes, travel, Women, Youth Leadership

52 responses to “On the Road: Opportunities for Personal Growth through Solo Travel

  1. Truly! I admit it; I’m a little intimidated of traveling alone, but, as you pointed out, the positives are endless. Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂

  2. Exactly!!! Some very special friendships of mine started that way. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Since you were talking about song lyrics the other day, how about the lyrics of “Time for a Cool Change” by Little River Band. A key lyric is about the joy in “the time I spend alone.” We all need our moments of solitude and when I have done something by myself on a whim, it turned out to be even more enjoyable. So, do not hesitate to seek out new adventures. Happy trails to you…..

    • Great comment and great lyric. Thanks so much for reading!! The joy in the time I spend alone…I love that.

    • 16ae735faI can see that you are an expert at your field! I am lnunchiag a website soon, and your information will be very useful for me.. Thanks for all your help and wishing you all the success in your business. 151

  4. Traveling alone started by circumstance for me. Schedules and funds just never timed out right. In Vegas it was great because my internal clock never figured out when sleeping and eating were appropriate. In Costa Rica I could talk with others at the hotel during breakfast about what was good and bad and then alter my plans on a whim. I did limit myself to just one area to avoid traveling through the country by myself. Cruises are horribly overpriced for single travelers.
    Some people at home think it’s sad or scary that I travel alone but I enjoy it.

    • Absolutely. There is such freedom in being able to change plans depending on which way the wind blows…it can be addictive, if you ask me. 🙂 Thanks for reading and taking time to comment!

  5. Great photos, and an interesting question. I travel solo for business sometimes, but I enjoy company so much more. I agree that my own company would be better than a trip with someone who is not compatible. Traveling with companions means being flexible, but I love to share thoughts about what I am looking at and get someone else’s perspective. When traveling in England with my sister to do research on my novel about the post-Norman Conquest, we stopped in at Rudyard Kipling’s estate because she really wanted to. It took us a little bit off our planned path, and it wasn’t the period I was studying, but I was so glad that we went. It was fascinating, with an interesting house, beautiful gardens, and another poignant story to fill up my story banks. Sometimes someone else’s input is a good thing, and it stretches us.

  6. I spent a month alone in Britain and Italy years ago and have thrived on the memories ever since. I was on a Fellowship and spent three weeks in Oxford at a B&B and a week in Italy visiting a former student who now lives there. I arrived in that country on the boat train without knowing a word of Italian. It was a hoot! I recommend it to anyone who has the chance. It is a life-changing experience as Jennifer suggests.

  7. I usually travel with my husband as we travel well together, but I have traveled solo. Women need to be able to travel alone and be confident. Yes, there is a certain freedom in traveling alone.

  8. Great post! Love any sort of travel, but solo travel has a dimension all it’s own. From The heightened sense of adventure and achievement, to the freedom, to the self reliance and need for resilience, it’s fantastic. I would totally reccomend it and guarantee that every solo travel trip will change you for the better even if it’s only in a small way. Also a wonderful way of opening oneself to engaging with new people. Hope you get to indulge in more!

  9. My first experience traveling alone was when I lived in Germany for seven months when I was 27 years old, while I was working at IBM. I had forgotten all about this time in my life until reading your post today I went all over Europe by myself and didn’t really think much about it. I do remember being absolutely terrified the first evening of arrival in Germany and asking myself what have I done by taking this assignment when I don’t speak German. 🙂 After the first day, I somehow lost that fear and had one of the best times of my life. I also felt much more confident about my life after my European travels.
    The funny thing is that I’ve probably traveled far less by myself since that time. The only other solo trip I took was to Santa Fe, New Mexico in my early thirties. Now, I primarily take family trips, though I did go to a short trip for a Mayan ceremoney last year!
    Thanks for the thought provoking subject! I have to think about this some more! 🙂

    • Glad I could help bring back a memory! 🙂 That sounds amazing. I would love to get to move abroad for work…that would be a great way to do it. I can completely relate to the personal transformation that comes from stepping out of your comfort zone to do something like this. Thanks so much for the comment!

  10. I would love to travel solo once I leave school- it seems scary but I think it would be the perfect opportunity to develop independence. You have NO ONE else around you and its up to you and you alone to make new friends and look after yourself. Such valuable skills which could only have a positive impact on your life.
    cant wait till i can!

  11. I’ve taken a few solo trips within the US – to Ohio to visit the guy I was dating (I didn’t know anything or anyone there but him) and Oregon for a conference (I’d never been to Portland before and knew no one going into it). It’s a bit nerve-wracking, but the excitement is untouchable! I learned that people are helpful – I don’t have a smartphone, so I had to ask for directions a lot, and talked to strangers because I had no one else to talk to; I’ve learned that you notice and appreciate more when you’re not distracted by someone else. I like being able to share experiences with people, but I hands-down prefer solo travel because I personally benefit from it more, as it pushes me outside my comfort zone and exposes new perspectives I’d previously been unaware of. Awesome post – it’s nice finding someone else who values solo travel. 🙂

  12. I drove across the US twice alone and both times felt like I had entered one person and emeged an entirely different one. As much as I love to travel with the right person the experience of traveling alone is really equally as valuable. You get to talk to people that amy not have approached you, you see things you might have missed because of the distraction of another person, you get to think deeply and contemplate your life. My new goal is to spend six months in another country teaching English and getting to know another country on my own. Funny thing is your post made me want to travel with you!! Love to know someone else out there thinks the same way.

    • Wow! That is one of the nicest compliments ever!! Thank you! Sounds fun! I can’t wait to hear about your adventures teaching English. And I love the statement that you entered a trip as one person aand emerged another. I can completely relate. I was dating a guy when I left for Guatemala and when I returned, he said it seemed like I had just left. To me, it felt like I had lived a lifetime in those four weeks. Such an invaluable experience. Thanks for your comment! Let’s hit the road!! 🙂

  13. Your comments and responses reminded me of a day of free time I had on a business trip in London. I think I walked 12 miles through all the parks, popped into various things that caught my interest – Churchill’s WWII bunker HQ, Harrod’s, a cool museum, a pub, etc. It was glorious.

    • Sounds glorious. Yeah, there is really something to unscheduled, unplanned time that is all your own. It is like a blank page and you control the painting. 🙂 Thanks for your comment.

  14. Jennifer Worrell

    I never really took long trips alone when I was single; but my weekend outings and wanderings were so fulfilling. I always enjoyed my own company:)

  15. I never took a vacation alone before. The thought dose not appeals to me. However I admire all the brave souls who are willing to make that decision.

    • I think lots of people haven’t. Nothing wrong with that. But I would encourage you to think about it if the opportunity ever arises in the future. It is such an eye-opening adventure! Thanks so much for your comment!

  16. Travelling alone got beautiful lately. It’s not a happy story from my end though. I lost who I would’ve loved to travel with and then I began travelling alone. You reflect on life with no interference from the familiarity of your daily toil – sometimes you drop the front you put up at work everyday, sometimes you dive into the past to look for memories. You talk to people you would never have dreamed of speaking with if you had a travel partner to discuss issues with. You do what you wish to with great insolence, without worrying about the consequences your actions have on schedules etc. It’s about being responsible for yourself, largely. It must be a great experience for you. 🙂

    • I am sorry to hear the reason that you have been travelng alone, but glad to hear that you have chosen to keep on keeping on, in the immortal words of Bob Dylan. And glad to hear that you are finding the beauty in solo travel as well. You are so right about the beauty of a solo experience. Thank you for your comment!

  17. A friend of mine, recently divorced, has discovered the joy of traveling alone. She’s met a lot of interesting people in her travels, some who practically live next door that she met for the first time halfway around the world!

    I’ve never traveled alone. The closest I got to it was going away to school and having to make new friends and cope with college stuff on my own. It was an exhilarating experience.

    Upon reflection, it would be nice to travel without having to wait for anyone else to do the stuff I wanted to do, or compromise in any way, but I don’t feel the need to be on my own because I do have a fair amount of alone time when family is at work &/or school. Those days when I have the house to myself are wonderful. I often will head off and do research for my next book or just a little exploration of historical places around here. The only problem with that is, I usually have to head home to make dinner. Going on a longer trip alone would be nice, but I’d feel guilty leaving the Hubby at home. 🙂

    • See, you can even do it with your own days at home! Go do what YOU want to do and explore your own town as a solo tourist…before you have to go home and make dinner. The best of both worlds! 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  18. First off I would like to say terrific blog!
    I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your mind prior to writing. I have had a difficult time clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas out. I do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally lost just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or tips? Cheers!

What do you think? (Note: please check "follow comments" after leaving your comment so you will be notified by e-mail with replies.)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s