by Frances Snelling, Veteran Solo Traveler
The first time I traveled alone it wasn’t intentional. Island hopping in Greece with the safety net and fun of friends and familiar people was the plan. Alas, I couldn’t find anyone to commit to my schedule so off I went on a two-week solo adventure.
While in Greece I went where I wanted, when I wanted, and stayed as long as I wanted. I controlled who I talked to if anyone at all, what I ate, how much money I spent, and no one was in my ear asking me why I was doing what I was doing. It was incredibly liberating.
Many people asked me if I got bored or lonely. It wasn’t as if I was stranded on a desert island alone. I WAS IN GREECE! I was doing what I wanted to do: getting to know the country, the people, the food. When I sat at lunches alone my company was the sweet couple next to me enamored with each other, or the cranky grandma with three grand kids in tow. I was never actually alone. I never felt lonely. I was breathing all of Greece in.
In my solo state I focused on seeing the world. Isn’t that why we travel in the first place? Arriving home I had more than just pictures and silly souvenirs of the Pantheon. I had memories of my experiences and a new inner confidence that I could take on the world.
Since I can remember I was fascinated by other cultures and dreamed of living within them. Traveling made my strong desire become more of an insatiable craving to see, do, and experience more. I believe a lot of that craving stemmed from some sort of inner awakening where I realized there’s more than my own way of living in my own country. My little bubble was popped.
The first time you travel solo, another sort of awakening occurs. Without companions you focus more on the culture’s incredible history, societal values and delicious food. By actually learning about their culture you learn about yourself. And when shit happens, because in life it does, you realize there is a strength inside you might not have realized before. Now I find myself booking solo trips and getaways without hesitation. At times I prefer the solo travel. It’s part of who I am.
If you’re only traveling to take pictures of yourself proving you left the country then go with friends. If you travel to embrace the amazing world we all live in and want to truly experience it, then get out of your own way. Try traveling alone. You’ll be glad you did.