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Why, where, and how to travel solo

Solo travel.

This will be the scariest, most liberating, life-changing experience of your life.

Try it at least once!

I admit it: I was a total scaredy-cat of going unknown places by myself. I don’t know why, but one of the worst for me was the first day of school. I HATED the first day of school, even though I loved school itself. Crying on the first day of school was a rite of passage, even into college. Even when I had been to the same school the previous year, THAT classroom, teacher, and group of kids were all foreign to me—so I hated and dreaded it.

While in my early 20’s, I decided to go on a mission for my church. I was excited to meet and grow to love the Brazilians (I was going to live there for 18 months), but, predictably, I was terrified to have to go by myself. Luckily, I consoled myself, I would be assigned to work with a partner missionary, so thankfully I wouldn’t have to be alone in my adventures.

Brazilian visas were slow. At the end of my 2-month language and missionary training period, my visa, along with many others going to Brazil, hadn’t arrived. They decided to send us all to U.S. locations while we waited.

My U.S. travel assignment came. Everyone else in my group was assigned to go to Atlanta, Georgia. Not me. I was sent, alone by myself, to Philadelphia. When I got my assignment, I called my parents in tears. I was so petrified of traveling by myself, I thought about quitting. But I’m stubborn and not a quitter. My parents assured me that I could do it. And, I did. And, thankfully, gained a little confidence along the way.

The rest of that story is that I only spent a week in Philly; our visas were all issued and we soon met up in the Miami airport on our way to Brazil. And I absolutely loved my time with the Brazilian people.

That was the first time I traveled solo, but it hasn’t been my last. Admittedly, given my family situation of having a husband, children, and a plethora of family members, I don’t travel by myself very often, but because my profession is a travel advisor, I have an opportunity to travel solo more than you might think, to check out destinations, properties, experiences, and ships.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to travel solo? I have an amazing client, Joyce, who has become a good friend—I’ve been booking her travel for over twelve years. Joyce is a cruiser. She works hard and is able to take 2-3 cruise vacations each year as a solo traveler. (She has invited a friend once or twice, but finds that she’d rather go by herself.) I asked Joyce a few questions about being a single traveler; here’s what she said. I’ve added some of my own observations.

Q: Why do you like traveling as a single? Joyce: I like the fact that I have the room to myself, and I do what I want when I want.

You guys! This is so fun! You can sleep on whatever side of the bed you want, or right in the middle. You can watch whatever you want on TV. Sleep in or wake up early. Setting your own schedule is amazing.

Q: Do you have anything you do to make it fun? Joyce: I meet and talk to people. I socialize and then go get lots of sleep, and start over again.

Joyce is so good at making friends everywhere she goes. She just starts talking to the people around her, and before you know it, they’re talking about future cruises and the possibility of meeting up on the next one!

Whether you’re naturally social or not, it’s fun to get to know other travelers, find out where they’re from, and connect a little bit.

Q: Do you have any tips or advice for someone traveling solo? Joyce: Just be themselves and socialize with other people.

That’s great advice! Enjoy being by yourself, and when others are around, enjoy being with them.

Q: Is it fun to cruise as a single?

Joyce: Absolutely, I actually prefer it.

Like I mentioned, Joyce has traveled with others in the past, but especially now that she’s cruised solo, she prefers it. For her, it’s just the right combination of independence and socializing.

Q: Anything else you can think of? Joyce: It costs more, but it's worth the peace of mind, and having the whole cabin to yourself to unwind and relax after a shore excursion and also on the sea.

Joyce is such a great example to me of someone who loves life! She’s not afraid to explore and find destinations she loves. She’s been to some incredible places all over the world, and she loves discovering new itineraries in previously-visited locations.

What types of trips are best for solo traveling?

While any trip can be fun as a single, I highly recommend those with a planned itinerary. This is why cruising works so well for Joyce. She decides which cruises she wants to take based on destinations, itineraries, and days at sea.

Guided land tours are also fabulous for singles. You can be with and enjoy fellow travelers, while still maintaining your own independence when you want. You have the security of being in a group, combined with the freedom to explore and experience the destination however feels best for you. Some trips are designed specifically for groups of single travelers, which adds an extra element of fun!

A quote from sums it up: “Traveling alone will be the scariest, most liberating, life changing experience of your life. Try it at least once!”

I’m glad I haven’t missed out on the amazing chance to travel solo. A couple of years ago after returning home from a solo FAM trip, one of my sisters asked incredulously, “Do you like going by yourself?” (She knew my younger self, remember!) To which I honestly replied, “It’s really fun!” I would never have believed that my current, solo travel-enjoying self could be the same petrified little girl who cried because she had to walk into that new classroom by herself on the first day of school. But for anyone who has never experienced the independence of solo travel, I would highly recommend it.

I’m happy to talk you through your options and find the best fit for you, no matter how you’re traveling: by yourself, or with one, two, or many others.

And, in case you were wondering what wellness aspect I’m focusing on today, I think it’s obvious: more connection with those you’re traveling with. Yourself. Isn’t that a fabulous reason to travel solo?


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