95% of the time, my travels are solo, and I’ve been traveling solo for 15 years. I swear by it! If you’re new to solo travel, let me bust some common myths for you.
That you’re alone all the time.
When you think solo travel, don’t think “Castaway.” You’ll find way more company than a volleyball! One, think of all the opportunities we have to connect with people but we don’t actually connect: in line for coffee, on planes and buses, during solo meals. Strike up a convo! (A standard icebreaker I use: ‘Where are you from?’) When you’re traveling solo, it’s up to you how often you want to look out and engage, or look in and reflect.
You control your interactions, your schedule, your activities. Join a group tour, a pub crawl, or chat up the people at the next table. Scale up or scale down depending on your preferences and how you feel in the moment. If you want to be Castaway, you can be… but you 100% don’t have to be.
That it’s only for introverts.
I’ve been on solo trips where I hung out with people every day, accepted into circles both by other travelers and by locals who appreciate getting to know somebody new. I’ve had fleeting connections — a meal or two, a drink here or there — and then made friendships that have endured years and long distances. Here in Belize in May 2021, I’ve explored San Pedro Island and enjoyed outings with Americans, natives, and expats (and I’m sure I’ll see some of these amazing people again!).
I identify primarily as an introvert, but solo travel brings me into extrovert-land; my curiosity and excitement overpowers my natural tendencies and my social muscle is strengthened.
That it’s only for 20-year-olds.
Just because you’re in your 30s, 40s, 50s or beyond doesn’t mean you can’t partake in solo travel. We ‘older’ people have more arguably more cash to spare and hopefully more vacation days — so why shouldn’t we be out there seeing the world? You’d be surprised how many non-20-year-olds I see traveling alone or in small groups, doing the things they want to do and seeing the things they want to see — whatever their relationship status or life circumstances.
Solo travel is no longer just a pre- or post-college, gap year or summer kind of thing — it’s for remote employees, early retirees, sabbatical-takers, or the deliberately unemployed — the ones who are not waiting for that magical “retirement” age of 65+.
That it’s only for budget-travelers.
You can travel solo on a budget, or you can travel solo in luxury. You have MANY choices! For the budget conscious, there’s hostels and shared Airbnbs. For wealthier (and perhaps older) clientele, there are higher-end accommodations. Do some research on where you’re going, and know, the place you choose to stay will be reflective of who it attracts. As a frequent traveler, I typically look for simple, mid-range accommodations in a convenient location, vs. more luxurious accommodations where honeymooners and retirees would tend to book — I know I’ll have more fun and more in common with guests who are around my age and of a similar situation.
All income levels and all budgets can partake in solo travel, period.
That it’s unsafe.
At age 20, I went on my first solo trip, a 3-day jaunt to Los Angeles, ahead of my college group. Maybe that doesn’t sound like anything special, but handling it all my myself — booking accommodations, navigating public transport and walking directions, checking in to hotels — it was no small feat for a Midwest girl who had previously only traveled with family and chaperones! And I’ve been solo traveling ever since: 22 countries, 41 states and counting, and I’ve never felt that I was directly in danger. Still, I’ve had moments where I have felt uncomfortable, where my intuition sends up a flare, and I take myself out of the situation. Solo travel is NOT inherently dangerous. Just like at home, be aware and be prepared. Watch below for some specific tips on personal safety for female travelers.
That it doesn’t change you.
Solo travel is so incredibly rewarding — because it’s all on me. I’m juggling my schedule, calculating currency exchange rates in my mind, navigating maps, computing distances and public transportation timetables, sometimes translating signs and directions in different languages — i’s a lot of mental cartwheels! Experiencing a new place is all my responsibility, and it’s a powerful feeling.
By not leaning on or following others, we discover all that we’re capable of… and the time spent alone while solo traveling allows us to realize the value and comfort of our own company.
What do you love about solo travel? Drop me a comment or DM!
#solotravel is no longer just a pre- or post-college, gap year thing — it’s for remote employees, early retirees, #sabbatical-takers, or the deliberately #unemployed — the ones who are not waiting for that magical “#retirement” age of 65+Tweet