The Joy of Solo Travel

by EmmaP

At the time of writing, I am sat watching Coronation Street, drinking tea – how depressingly British of me. A few weeks ago when I started out on a little world expedition I posed a few questions about the value of travel and pondered how it may ‘change’ oneself. Personally I always err on the side of pessimism, it’s part of my genetic make-up, and I was semi-convinced that an extended travel trip would have no serious impact on me.

I can happily announce that I was wrong. Seeing different places, having different experiences and meeting a range of different people is bound to - for want of a better cliché – expand your horizons. Although I can’t claim to have been profoundly changed by just hopping on a few planes and visiting a few places; I can profess to being inspired by a lot of people that I met on my jolly little way. My motto for a few years now has been something along the lines of: it’s the people that make a place. And the more travelled I become, the more I feel qualified to stick by that.

On the other hand you would have a heart of stone to not be inspired by some of the sights and completely gobsmacked by some of the experiences you have whilst travelling. Journeying alone, allows landscapes and experiences to naturally seep into your pores, you can really concentrate on what is happening around you without the distraction of worrying about someone else. Call me selfish, but solo travel may well be one of the greatest ventures you can ever undertake. And as people say: ‘ you are never alone when you travel alone’.

There is something magnetic about travelling solo, if you have the guts to be able to brazenly walk over to a group of strangers and ‘make friends’ you will find yourself enriched by meeting similar, like-minded people to yourself (or not, life is a game of chance). I have always been pretty bad at doing the above, usually I will take a backseat and allow my friends to do the majority of the socialising and then slowly weave myself into the already created framework. But in the instance of solo travel there is no such safety net.

The lack of such a net is liberating in itself, everything you do is for you and you alone. You can indulge yourself in strange eating habits, not getting up till 4pm, extending your stay in certain places, exploring as much or as little as you want.... you get the idea. I met a beautiful young woman on an overnight bus from New Orleans to Atlanta. She oozed confidence and was an aspiring actress. She told me of how she followed solo-female travellers on Instagram and how she found them inspiring. As many of my female friends are solo travellers, I had never even thought that it could be considered an ‘inspirational’ thing, to me it’s normal. She deemed herself not brave enough to do it, but she was brave enough to battle the world of rejection that is Hollywood. To me it’s amazing that travelling could be considered scarier than a movie audition, but we all have different limitations.

In conclusion, solo travel is great, but its far better when punctuated with people. You will remember that waterfall and that sunset, but its always a pleasure to have people to remember it with.