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.
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!