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What I Gained & Lost by Traveling Alone

A cross roads signs. What I gained and lost by traveling alone

The year was 2010. I had just turned 30 in January and was determined to see Italy and Greece before the year was over. But as hard as I tried, I couldn’t find a travel partner…so I explored the idea of going alone.

I struggled with the many common fears that plague most first-time solo travelers. Will I be lonely, bored, safe, or look like a friendless loser? Can I do this, I thought??? Spoiler alert, I did it. Fast forward to nearly ten years later, and I will share with you what I gained and lost by traveling alone.


What I Gained From Traveling Alone



Self Confidence & Inner Strength

My most significant benefit of all was self-confidence and inner strength. Before traveling alone, I did consider myself a relatively strong and somewhat confident woman. Once you go alone, you will see how capable you are in this world. It can be an exciting feeling, as well as terrifying. 

On my first solo trip to Italy and Greece, I faced many of the fears that were holding me back from booking in the first place. Boredom was front and center. That boredom leads to a bit of loneliness. And what followed the feeling of isolation was the fear that whoever saw me alone at breakfast assumed I was on my honeymoon alone.

I am happy to report that feeling unsafe was not an issue I faced while traveling alone. Since it is a widespread concern of single females traveling, I created a PDF Safety Guide. 

So while sitting alone in a hotel frequented by honeymooners, I was feeling a bit ashamed to be traveling alone as a single woman. Looking back, I regret wasting any time in those feelings. I had been focusing so hard on the things in my life I didn’t have, and I was blind to the things I did have. A lot of soul searching took place on this trip. It shined a light on how strong I was for taking the chance and going solo in the first place.

It’s never till after the fact that we see things for how they are. The growth of my confidence and inner strength wasn’t clear to me until after I got back from the trip. It was upon my return that I also realized something else I gained.



World of Possibilities

After ripping off that first solo trip band-aide, I woke up to the world of possibilities in front of me. The need to wait for someone to join me was no longer holding me back. If I desired to go somewhere, I could save money, and I could go.

To be fully transparent, after my first solo trip, I wasn’t a full convert. I still would have preferred to find someone to travel along with, if I could. Since those options were still not presenting themselves by the time my next trip rolled around, I decided to go ALONE… again.

This trip, I got a lot more creative and did more than just two countries! I choose five countries in 3 weeks. It was a bit ambitious, but all of it worth it in the end. The world was opening up to me, and I was making friends and learning how to be a traveler.

After this trip and getting the hang of going alone, deep down, I knew I was starting to prefer it. The skills I was acquiring as a solo traveler was making me a more confident and stronger woman. These strengths were helping me in my career and personal life.

What I Lost From Traveling Alone

Fear & Insecurity

It didn’t happen instantly, but there is no denying that by traveling alone, I slowly lost my feelings of fear and insecurity. I was becoming a more self-assured woman, and it felt great.

The first of my fears, I let go, was eating alone in public. With time, the insecurity I felt walking into a restaurant and asking for a table for one was gone. Just not giving a shit what anyone was thinking is a very freeing feeling. I became very comfortable on my own to enjoy a meal and picture edit on my phone to pass the time.

My fears of what other people thought of my solo traveling was something that lingered, but not for too long. If you do start solo traveling, you will need to be prepared to answer questions from family and friends. In some cases, you may need actually to defend your choices. I have been lucky to have a supportive circle, but I have answered these questions from strangers. Just remember, most people are just too scared to attempt this themselves, so they project their fear on to you.


Limiting Beliefs

Once you get out there in the world, you see all your limiting beliefs slowly fade. After so many trips overseas, I started to grow a strong desire to live in Europe. I let limiting beliefs that it would be impossible for me without a European partner or job offer stop me from pursuing a move.

It was on my trip around Europe in 2016, 3 years after I had declared to myself that I wanted to move, that I got sober. Moving to Europe started with the plan to move to Denmark! So I began to dive into the internet to find all ways that I could make this possible.

Quickly realizing that my quest to move to Denmark was going to be much harder than I thought, I looked into other places. My research brought me Germany and how it was more feasible than other sites.

It took a lot of work and inner courage to get to the point where I was ready to do it. And I can attribute my years of traveling alone as to what gave me more strength to make this happen! All the courage I had gained from solo traveling was the final ingredient that helped me lose my limiting beliefs that I couldn’t do it.


My Message to You

Writing this blog was something I should have started a long time ago. But, there is no place in my life for regrets, so I believe it is coming at the right time now.

I grew a lot within as a woman from the years of thirty to forty, and I want to share my wisdom. It can be so hard in this world to forgive ourselves for the things we did that didn’t turn out perfect. I have had to forgive myself for a lot of goals and expectations that I didn’t personally meet.

What I realized is that by not meeting those personal goals, I made room for other achievements. So, my message to you is to be kind to yourself. Look at the accomplishments you have made, and don’t be afraid to try something new. Traveling solo might be just the thing you need!

Why I was Ashamed to Travel Alone

Stay Safe! Free Safety Guide!

A Single Woman Traveling Safety Guide

Pin It For Later

What I gained and loss by solo traveling

19 Comments

  1. josypheen
    December 14, 2019 / 5:13 pm

    Fab post Melissa. I love that you are honest about your feelings, it can be really scary to travel alone at first. I found when I first went on solo adventures that I tended to make new friends to share the experience with. I loved the sense of adventure, but I have never been keen of eating along (I need to get better at this!)

    To be honest, I rarely travel alone these days, but reading this makes me pretty sure I’d be okay if I took the plunge (it’s just now, I’d feel bad leaving my husband behind!)

  2. Emma
    December 14, 2019 / 5:51 pm

    I related so much to this. As someone who has traveled alone extensively I still get the “but why?” questions. The reason was as you first said: I didn’t have anyone to go with and I wasn’t going to let that stop me. Love this post and all that it stands for!

  3. Susan
    December 14, 2019 / 5:53 pm

    I love this! And can totally relate to gaining self-confidence and inner strength. When you travel solo every single decision is yours to make, which can be scary but also empowering. And you learn that you can do it! Thanks for sharing your story 🙂

    • December 15, 2019 / 7:09 pm

      Exactly! It can be so empowering, I really felt like it helped me be more confident in my career as well! So glad you enjoyed it!

  4. December 14, 2019 / 8:45 pm

    It’s so encouraging to read how much you grew as a person and let go of so many fears through solo traveling. It’s not something I’ve ever done, and I totally commend people like you for taking that plunge!

  5. shesleni
    December 15, 2019 / 8:41 am

    Good read. I also wrote one about solo travelling and yes I totally agree with everything.

  6. Kelsey
    December 15, 2019 / 4:32 pm

    I loved reading this! I also took my first solo trip simply because no one else could come – originally my brother was going to come with me, but he ended up getting a last minute job opportunity. The trip was all planned, so I just went anyway! And one of my destinations was also to a ‘honeymoon’ destination – I went to Greece, and specifically in Santorini I felt pretty lame at first. But then I met several other solo female travelers and realized I was just being ridiculous!

    I really enjoyed reading your experience, and love the sentiment about being kind to yourself. I think so often we are so hard on ourselves when we don’t need to be. And congrats on making the move to Europe happen! What an amazing accomplishment.

    • December 15, 2019 / 7:12 pm

      Thanks so much! I am so glad you enjoyed it! Isn’t that funny, I was in Santorini as well on that first solo trip I mention! I’m glad you went for it, and totally had a great time too!! : )

  7. December 17, 2019 / 8:17 am

    Thanks very much! It can be hard to be so honest and vulnerable… I am so grateful this post has been well received!

  8. December 17, 2019 / 8:21 am

    I really appreciate your message!! It can be sometimes hard to be this open…but I really believe it will encourage others. I gained so much from these adventures, and I hope to be an inspiration to more women!

  9. December 18, 2019 / 12:50 pm

    I love this! I haven’t done solo travel myself yet, but I spent a couple of days alone in London and later in Reykjavik prior to conferences, and I can still relate to what you’re writing.. Eating alone was the hardest part for me, but I quickly realized – NO ONE cares 🙂 Keep traveling solo, girl

  10. December 18, 2019 / 4:28 pm

    As someone who travels solo, this was so comforting to read!

  11. December 18, 2019 / 9:32 pm

    Great post! I think a lot of people can relate to it, it is nerve wrecking to travel to a new country alone, but as you have stated once you do it you realize all the possibilities in front of you. If you wait for someone to go with you you may never make it there!

  12. December 19, 2019 / 11:28 am

    This is such a great post Melissa, so nice to hear your feelings about it! I’ve only traveled alone once and same as you, the worst feeling was eating alone but at the end of the day, I didn’t care anymore haha Solo travelling is great!

  13. December 20, 2019 / 1:48 am

    thank you for this ?? I too can be very hard on myself and it’s good to start the new year with such a positive attitude

  14. December 22, 2019 / 8:26 pm

    I loved this messages. I needed to hear that today more than ever. I’ve been really hard on myself and being in a toxic environment has put me in a spiral of self hatred. This message really hit home for me, thank you!

    • December 23, 2019 / 8:18 am

      I am so glad to hear this! Post like this can be hard to put out, it requires me to be so open and honest about my struggles. Reading the comments from women that needed to hear it really makes it worth it!

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