I regularly come across stories about the greatness of solo travel; how it opens your mind, liberates you, makes you stronger, grow as a person yada yada yada. I’m sure it does, and I don’t disagree that for those who embrace it, solo travel can be a great thing.
However, for a while now I’ve begun to feel that it’s become more of a status badge. That solo travellers are a ‘special breed’ who’ve undertaken some rite of passage that I’m not brave enough to do. That they’re somehow better, stronger, more adventurous than people like me; people that just don’t like the idea of travelling alone; whether that’s on an overnight trip, a two-week break or six months of backpacking.
For a long time I’ve felt bad, guilty even, for not wanting to travel solo but the truth is it has never appealed. But that is my reality and so I’ve decided to own it!
So just to make it absolutely clear: solo travel will never be my thing – and I’m fine with that! Everyone gets enjoyment from different things and for me that is travelling with a companion; be that my partner, my family, my friends or even a group of fellow bloggers. I’ve had amazing experiences with all of the above, and one of the things I’ve loved the most is sharing them.
My best memories are always around shared experiences; Justin and I attempting to work out how to eat crab with only a hammer in a tin shack outside of Kuala Lumpur; mum and me trying not to fall ass over tit as we walked through the streets of Jasper one icy, November evening, or that time when me and my bestie, Nichola, couldn’t work out how to make the escalators work on the way up to Park Güell and so ended up, unnecessarily, walking up five steep flights of stairs.
I’ve also rediscovered the wonder of travel all over again through my stepkids. As a seasoned traveller you can get quite blasé about everything around you, but when the kids point out how the cars, signs – even the fire hydrants are “wow, so different!” you’re again filled with the wonder and magic travel brings.
A confidence issue?
I’ll admit I’m quite a shy person, and not the most confident, which is another reason why I don’t like the idea of travelling alone. (To be fair after working alone in my office 9-5 for the last 15+ years, what do you expect?! #freelancelife). I like comfortable companionship with someone I know, and I also feel safer when I have a travel ‘partner in crime’. But it’s always made me feel a bit pathetic, a failure if you will, when I see all these confident women jetting off and having untold adventures alone.
But, on the verge of turning 40, I’m getting much better at accepting myself for who I am, quirks, flaws and all. This is me and this is what I enjoy, so what’s wrong with that?
I want to end by making clear that I’m no ‘solo traveller’ hater. Seriously, kudos to you who choose to travel this way, I admire you and will admit you must gain a lot from those experiences. But I just know, that right now at least, it’s not how I choose to roll. And that’s fine. Rather than tick boxes or make yourself fit into some ‘Insta ideal’, I say let’s just travel in the way that brings us the most joy and for me that involves travelling with a companion…
So, what’s your take on solo travel? Do you agree with some of my points or do you think I’m just a big ol’ scaredy cat? I’d love to hear your take on this discussion, so please leave me a comment below!