Relationships

Would You Travel Alone?

My mom and I once took a trip to Paris and, halfway through our trip, discovered that we had accidentally booked our return flights for different days. So I spent my last night there by myself. First I went to the movie Ratatouille, then had a Croque Monsieur at a neighborhood restaurant and then spent the rest of the evening wandering the cobblestone streets, soaking up the street music, twinkling lights and general je ne sais quoi.

But here’s the thing: I sort of hate being alone. I joke to Alex that, if it were up to me, I’d be surrounded by a huge group of people 24 hours a day. One accidental night in Paris was fine, but had it been any longer, I’d have felt restless, a little lonely.

New York Times writer Stephanie Rosenbloom, however, recently took a solo trip to Paris and raved about the experience:

It was easy in Paris to surrender to the moment. But why? What alchemy transmuted ordinary activities, be it a walk across a bridge or the unwrapping of butter, into a pleasure? My default speed in New York is “hurtle,” yet in Paris I dragged the edge of a fork across an oyster with a care better suited to sliding a bow across a violin.

This was not simply because I was in Paris, though it has long held a kind of magic for many Americans. It was because I was there on my own. In a city that has been perfecting beauty since the reign of Napoleon III, there are innumerable sensual details — patterns, textures, colors, sounds — that can be diluted, even missed, when chattering with someone or collaborating on an itinerary. Alone one becomes acutely aware of the hollow clack of pétanque balls in a park; the patina of Maillol’s bronze “Baigneuse se Coiffant” that makes her look wet even on a cloudless day in the Tuileries; how each of the empty wine bottles beside sidewalk recycling bins is the embodiment of someone’s good time. There is a Paris that deeply rewards the solo traveler.

Sounds meditative, right? I just asked my friend, who is working across from me today, if she’d want to take a vacation alone, and she answered, “Desperately. I fantasize about it all the time.” When I asked her where she would go, she answered, “Oh my God, anywhere.”

What about you? Have you traveled alone? Did you enjoy it? Would you jump at the chance to soak up a place by yourself, or not so much? Where would you go? I’m so curious…

P.S. A version of traveling alone (that I can handle), and my friend Sharon takes a solo trip every year.

(Photo by Nicole Franzen)

  1. lana says...

    I have only had a day to myself in a foreign country. I was with my husband at a conference and took a stupendously gorgeous train ride to Vienna and spent the day just exploring. It was mind expanding and liberating! I had to rely on my senses and memory of high school German. I absolutely would love to do a longer trip in the future. For now, I love exploring with my kids and hubby. Maybe some day….

  2. Ben Lock says...

    Hi guys,
    Thank you so much for this wonderful article! Here we all can learn a lot of useful things and this is not only my opinion! Even BLNCK corp. and http://www.globalstorybook.org
    confirmed it!

  3. Debra says...

    Part of traveling is to be able to share the experience – to deepen a friendship or a love relationship. However….. I took a solo trip to Amsterdam when I was 30 and newly single. I saw all the beautiful art – the van Goghs and the Vermeers, I went to the Anne Frank house and walked along the canals. One morning I awakened super early to go to Alsmeer to the flower market. Still, it was kind of lonely, especially at dinner time. In my memory it remains a very good trip. You see, the man with whom I had broken up, had during my absence, decided that he missed me. He was at the airport with flowers when I returned. We were engaged 4 months later, married for months after this and now have been married 21 years.

  4. Cristina says...

    I took my first alone trip a few years ago. I decided that if I was going to travel by myself I would do it well so I went all the way to Argentina with the only company of my old backpack and a travel notebook. It was, by far, the best trip of my entire life. I was scared to death at first but once I landed in Buenos Aires I knew I was going to have an amazing time. I did!I saw the entire country and went back a few months later to live there for 2 whole years. I am that spontaneous sometimes. I would recommend travelling alone to anyone. You wont regret it.

  5. Rina says...

    I would love to travel alone! But still hasn’t got the gut to try it. The idea of going to places you wish to see without needing to consider other people’s choice/need is just great!

  6. I would have always answered no to this one! I’m a slight introvert and love my alone time, but when it comes to traveling somewhere new, it’s nice to have the security of a familiar face along with.

    That being said, I’m spending some time as an au pair abroad right now – and haven’t made many friends (my French is far from perfect). I saved money to travel, expecting friends would come along easily. I’ve made a few, but I realized this. I had places I wanted to travel to and see, and just because I don’t have someone to go with doesn’t mean I shouldn’t go. That would be regretful to have saved money to take trips and have the time off, only to not travel because I would be alone! In fact, it’s nice to book flights etc on my own timeline for how long I want to stay, and do the activities I want to do and pay for.

    It will be a totally different travel experience, but it feels liberating to be able to get out of town and explore new cities with no one’s agenda but my own. I think it also opens up the opportunity to meet locals more easily – and I’m staying through Airbnb which will also help to get to know locals! It will be a memorable trip!

  7. I’ll only travel alone if I’ve been to that place before. I need to travel with someone if its a brand new place

  8. Deff! I absolutely love taking time out for myself and just absorbing a new place on my own. That being said, Paris was the place that introduced all the luxury of solo travelling to me. From ordering a decadent chocolate crepe by the gardens to walking along the Seine alone. Those were the moments I remember feeling most at peace

    http://glamouroustraveller.com

  9. Even though it was for work, I spent 5 days in Serengeti ‘alone’ and absolutely loved it. Time away from my kids made me want to hug them more. And realizing I can take care of myself was an extra benefit.

  10. AK says...

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. I spent my 30th birthday in Austria on my own, a world away from my loved ones in Australia. I spent the next 10 days exploring Salzburg and Vienna, solo. I missed my husband terribly, but – I will always say my 30th birthday was the best day of my life! I don’t know that I’d do it again – recently celebrated my 40th by going on another trip to Europe, this time with husband and daughter…it was great to share experiences but I got to occasionally go exploring on my own, and that was great, too – best of both worlds.
    And yes…I’m an introvert…! :)

  12. I have gone on a few trips alone. My first solo trip was to Istanbul. Loved it. I still think it may have been the best vacation I’ve ever taken. I think that traveling alone makes you interact A LOT MORE with the locals, which gives a dramatically different tone to the trip than travling with a partner. I’ve never done “group” travel because I’m afraid of the regimentation. Going alone means that my agenda is the only agenda, too. No compromise.

  13. I think there’s a difference between travelling and being on holiday alone- I wouldn’t travel alone in the backpacking, hostels sense but I have been on holiday alone and it’s extremely liberating- though you have to approach things somewhat differently.

    The first time I was meeting people later- in Barcelona- but flew out early and had 2 days there on my own- I did lots of stuff they’d already done like the Gaudi and then was free to have fun with them- I stuck to being very busy during the day and had my main meal out during the day then usually had a carpet picnic in the evenings- I had a super time and remember everything I saw very vividly.

    The second time I went away alone but for a ‘reading’ holiday- an activity based holiday but obviously not an athletic one- so we ate meals together and had company but also had lots of time alone- and again it was great

  14. I also went to Paris alone as a 35th birthday present to myself for 12 days. And I absolutely loved being there alone for the same reasons that your friend wrote about. It’s so calming to be alone and to just BE! I highly recommend traveling solo! It’s been a little over a year and I can’t wait to go back to Paris and I will probably go it alone once again. :)

  15. I travel around the US by myself all the time and once took a three week trip to Thailand and Cambodia all by myself. Fantastic experiences. I always end up really appreciating myself.

  16. Oh, yes! I take one vacation a year by myself–except the past two years as my father is terminally ill and I haven’t left his side–and have travelled alone quite a bit throughout my life. I love being in a foreign place by myself and selfishly doing what I want. When alone I become hyper aware of my surroundings–and I like that. But two weeks is my limit of “alone.”

  17. I have taken several trips solo – mostly when I was living and working in the middle east and didn’t have a lot of travel companion options. Went to Bahrain, Oman, and Jordan and loved every single trip as my itenary was my own. This was before Iphone with FB, Insta, and other distractions even.

  18. Absolutely! I spent a lot of years traveling on my own and many of those trips were life-changing. Being a solo traveler forces you out of your comfort zone in many ways. In my case it helped me to truly see and experience the cultures around me because I didn’t have anyone from my own background to hide behind. Travel lightly though! It’s a real pain to slog through trains and such on your own with a ton of luggage.

  19. When I first moved to Paris, I was mostly alone and at first it’s all about patterns and buskers but after some time I felt so desperate because my mind wouldn’t shut up. I was basically over thinking even the grocery shopping and calculating it in my head. Travelling alone is beyond lovely but after some time it gets lonely.

    Xx
    Asli

    http://www.zeparisienne.com

  20. I’m married and I love to travel alone. I often travel for business, and it’s nice to have the time for myself, do whatever I want, let life reveal itself to me on my own terms. I love my husband and I love being married, and we’re both independent people, but it’s always hard when you live with someone to do whatever the heck you want without worrying about another person. It’s nice to have breaks like that, I think.

  21. I spent last summer in Italy alone. I missed my husband SO much – distance does make the heart grow fonder AND it was exactly what I needed personally.

  22. I like traveling alone, don’t get me wrong planned trips with friends and family are fun. But I like to explore, get up early, drive into the unknown, take detours, and eat at small local restaurants or street food. Most people I travel with are too fragile and like to only stay at 4 star resorts and have a driver take you around. I am more of a rent a scooter and find out what’s around the bend.

  23. Travelling alone is a wonderful experience. I backpacked through Europe in my early 20s alone and I’ve also been to Jamaica and parts of China solo. My first trip alone was backpacking and it taught me that I am independent and capable to travel alone. The experience was enriching, I was able to see and experience everything that I wanted, and I met many other travellers who were also on their own. My advice to anyone who has the option to travel alone, GO, you never know when or if you’ll get the chance again.

  24. Traveling alone made for empowering experiences!

    The first time was after a semester abroad (in graduate school) in Italy. I spent nearly a week on my own in Padova and at Lake Como. It was early spring, so I was able to enjoy sitting outside and journaling at cafes and exploring whatever I wanted to see. While there were moments I found myself longing for company, I loved being able to take each moment as it came.

    The second time was a trip to NYC. Equipped with a carefully planned art seeing agenda I was able to pack so much into five days- saw nearly everything I wanted to see! And, at the end of the trip, I had gained so much more confidence by navigating the city solo.

    It is something to try for sure!

    Also wanted to say I enjoy this blog very much! Thank you for sharing with us.

  25. I’ve tried a trip to Dubai for a week, it was different I mingled with other people more than usual. if I’m travelling with someone I just rely on that and don’t even bother with making conversations.
    And I think making a schedule and sticking by it is a lot more easier solo. It has it perks but I didn’t see it as a problem..

  26. i am an identical twin, so I’m used to always having a partner. Like you, I prefer to have people around me. But when I was 23 and planning a trip to Kenya and Tanzania, a friend bailed on me, and I found myself in the position of either not fulfilling a lifetime dream, or getting over the fact that I’d be on my own. So I took the plunge. Each time I’d leave for a new city, it was a little scary. I felt like I had to start over. But people had told me, and I found it to be true–you’re only alone if you want to be alone. I met amazing people from all over the world on that trip. And knowing that I could make it on my own was one of the monumental experiences of my life.

  27. This may sound sad, but I love being alone-I’ve always been very independent so it’s a necessity for me to have my alone time. I have also had such terrible wanderlust for as long as I can remember, I haven’t had many opportunities to travel and I’m so hungry for it. With that being said, I would absolutely die to go on a trip alone, overseas, for a couple of weeks. To start? London. However, I would honestly be scared. I’m young and I’ve seen Taken. Not a good combo! I would definitely have to do my research.

  28. I spent an entire summer alone in NYC when I was 22. Born and raised in MS, I got into the internship program at Broadway Dance Center, and off I went. I just saw it as a huge opportunity and never even considered the fact that I was alone. I moved in with three girls I had never met into some NYU housing. We never saw each other coming or going. We didn’t have any real furniture, just beds, no TV or electronics. So I wandered the city every evening until I was ready for bed. It was awesome.

  29. If you would have asked this question just one year ago, I would have most likely said no. However, I just returned from a 2 month solo trip to Spain. It has been a dream of mine to spend time there after falling in love with the culture, food, scenery and all things España on a trip to Barcelona with friends in 2007. My experience was unbelievable and I learned so much about myself and my own strength as an individual. I’ve come back enriched, balanced and ready to take on the next adventure – solo or not!

  30. I travelled alone for an extended period of time (3 weeks!) by myself for the first time in January to Buenos Aires. It was a whirlwind of emotional, navigating a city I didn’t know anyone really well, and only speaking a wee bit of Spanish. However, by the end, I was in love with the entire experience. The vulnerability I felt only allowed me to open up more and make more friends who enriched every moment! It also made me appreciate the peacefulness of my mind and the fun you can have on your own!

  31. Definitely Bali! In the meantime I will continue to nest happily by a quaint beach town. Happy Nesting.

  32. Yes! I’ve been traveling solo in Southeast Asia for the past 3 months. In NYC I’m always surrounded by friends and was nervous about spending so much time alone. But traveling solo has been one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences. You become hugely more independent, you cherish the fact that you can do whatever you want, whenever you want, and you realize you’re never actually alone — you meet fellow travelers and expats in every town and city.

  33. Most of my travelling has been by myself and I absolutely love it. I actually almost prefer to travel by myself because there’s no one else to worry about. Plus, since I’m a broke 20-something travelling, I end up staying in hostels, which means I’m always meeting people once I’m there. I can spend the days by myself and in the evenings, if I really want company, I’ll find the new friends I’ve made. I look forward to it every time I’m planning a trip. :)

  34. I travel alone all the time, just visited Paris. But then I’m also single, and generally like my alone time more than the company of others. I even like to spend summers holidays alone in my cabin in the woods. Sometimes several days pass without me talking to anyone, but I get a bit lonely too.

    There are some downsides in traveling alone. Like restaurants do not like a single customer keeping a good table just for herself. And you can’t leave your belongings (or drink) unguarded to use the ladies room, so you have to learn to, hmm, hold. Not always so pleasant!

  35. JY says...

    I would love to ’cause I see it as a step to understand myself and the world a little more. But more than that, I want to see how I would survive being alone, hah.

  36. I’m in the middle of my solo travels right now! Actually, currently attending bible school in Europe, but I traveled in Stockholm for a week before school by myself, and in two weeks I’m heading to France for a week, and London for a week! I love it, it’s so peaceful, and you can do whatever you want at your own pace. It’s so beautiful.

  37. I’m in the middle of my solo travels right now! Actually, currently attending bible school in Europe, but I traveled in Stockholm for a week before school by myself, and in two weeks I’m heading to France for a week, and London for a week! I love it, it’s so peaceful, and you can do whatever you want at your own pace. It’s so beautiful.

  38. I’m in the middle of my solo travels right now! Actually, currently attending bible school in Europe, but I traveled in Stockholm for a week before school by myself, and in two weeks I’m heading to France for a week, and London for a week! I love it, it’s so peaceful, and you can do whatever you want at your own pace. It’s so beautiful.

  39. Absolutely! When studying abroad I travelled to Belgium and Greece by myself. It was amazing to pick the hostels and restaurants I wanted with no negotiations to deal with. I could make whatever plans I wanted and change them at the drop of a hat. I also love to walk everywhere and turn into any little crevice or down any trail I find whenever I feel like it – I don’t have any friends that feel that way and I don’t think it would feel the same to me even if I did. I’m quite the introvert so I never felt too lonely, but it actually forced me to make more acquaintances than I would have otherwise. There were a couple of harrowing moments in airports or with creepy men where it would’ve been nice to have been with someone, but it was more than worth it.

  40. I ADORE traveling by myself. In fact, I made a round-the-world trip alone for a whole year!

    It’s so much easier to have random conversations with strangers when you’re by yourself. I have made friends all over the world and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have if I had been traveling with someone. I enjoy sitting in a cafe or restaurant and just being open to everything around me. Without a cellphone to look at, it’s even better!

    Also, I enjoy the thrill of total freedom that comes from deciding everything on your own, not having to compromise at all when traveling. You like it somewhere : you stay a few more days! You don’t? You leave.

  41. I ADORE traveling by myself. In fact, I made a round-the-world trip alone for a whole year!

    It’s so much easier to have random conversations with strangers when you’re by yourself. I have made friends all over the world and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have if I had been traveling with someone. I enjoy sitting in a cafe or restaurant and just being open to everything around me. Without a cellphone to look at, it’s even better!

    Also, I enjoy the thrill of total freedom that comes from deciding everything on your own, not having to compromise at all when traveling. You like it somewhere : you stay a few more days! You don’t? You leave.

  42. I’m like you…I absolutely hate doing things alone. My 4 years of college, I only ate in the cafeteria alone a handful of times!

  43. I only travel alone. I’m currently backpacking around Southeast Asia. I started on Feb 1. and I’m still going strong. I’ve been blogging about it too.

  44. It’s funny you should mention this. I’m currently on a trip alone for the first time in my life and I was TERRIFIED at first. I considered bringing medication for anxiety. I mean, it’s Nashville so there aren’t as many variables as traveling abroad. But still. And this is even for a work-related conference so 8 hours of my day is (poof!) determined.

    Any way, I actually really enjoy it so far. I’ve met some interesting people in situations in which I never would have bothered putting effort if I had been with my boyfriend or family.

    I would actually do it again and regret not staying longer.

  45. I think travelling alone is more than a physical enjoyment but a mental cleansing process as well. I still remember my first solo trip was to Paris during my uni days, since I got really unhappy about a bad relationship (as well as very cheap eurostar ticket). I think the mental cleansing properties of a solo trip is that you can totally get rid of your usual social stereotype, be extremely relaxed, being in a novel place and nobody know you on the street, you can be yourself. You can also take time to soak in the places and you have an extremely flexible schedule, not having the need to attend to the needs or interest of others. I then realised it was so stupid to be unhappy when there are such beautiful places on Earth. Since then I fell in love with travelling alone and I had taken solo trips to germany, italy, Beijing, Korea..etc. I guess another push factor for going solo was that if i can’t go on a trip just because of others are not free to go with me, Id rather go alone. The most common 2 questions i got from friends are: 1) don’t you feel lonely? 2) aren’t you scared? I then answered: WHY WOULD I BE? I guess the answer to the first question is “learn to be with yourself”. I think being alone is a very good way to give yourself time to deal with your internal emotions, to restore yourself and comes back filled with positive energy. This feeling is amazing if you have tried. About the second question, i guess my advice would be stay alert, but not paranoid. All in all i think one should at least try travelling alone once in life, long or short. It is a very amazing experience. You also get to meet lots of people on your way too!

  46. Funny to read this post as I just arrived in Vancouver on a solo-trip. I often travel alone and find it a bitter-sweet experience. I absolutely enjoy the freedom, but am always a little bit freaked out in the beginning until I find my groove. It helps to have a boyfriend at home who gets up at half past two at night to listen to my whining :D

  47. I usually travel with my husband, sometimes with friends. I tacked on a weekend to a business trip to London once, and I stayed an extra day in South Korea past when my husband had to leave for a conference. And both times I found the same thing: the daytimes were GREAT. I felt like I took in so much more of my surroundings by myself and savored things more.

    BUT the evenings sucked. There is nothing appealing to me about sitting in a restaurant alone for dinner or hanging out in a bar by myself. I remember sitting in what turned out to be worst Japanese restaurant in Korea, reading The Hunger Games and being sort of bummed. I also remember going to a lowkey but happening nightlife area in London and feeling terrible, being surrounded by people who weren’t my friends and I couldn’t hang out with (maybe someone could, but I am not that forward).

    Then again, I am a decided extrovert, so maybe it’s just me.

  48. I had never traveled alone until I moved to Japan all by myself and lived on an isolated, rural part of the country for a year. I traveled a lot around Japan by myself on weekends, exploring every part of the country, and I somehow got used to it. I’m now living in Tokyo, and being alone for so long made me feel like I can do pretty much anything now…!

  49. Last week, a patient told me I should take a solo trip to Paris, and now it’s all I can think about!

  50. I spent a few weeks in Tanzania alone one summer when I just had to get away from my law firm job and was trying to figure out my love life. It was wonderful. I love not having to compromise with anyone on what to do, and not having to plan with more or less detail than I want to because of someone else’s preferences.

  51. I always travel alone– I’m an artist so spending a week or two in a foreign city is pure bliss and refuels me. I love to get lost on purpose, explore the local food culture, take my time in museums and galleries, and draw in my sketchbook. I’ve travelled solo since I was 17 years old– my parents were crazy (awesome?) enough to let me go to Australia by myself and I’ve had wanderlust ever since.

  52. I spent a year abroad and had to get over my fear of traveling alone…but I will say that wandering crowded, beautiful streets alone leaves you feeling more lonely that almost anything else in the world. I distinctly remember walking the streets of prague admiring the beauty and history that oozes from that city but feeling so heartbroken that i had no one to share it with. traveling alone is tough, but there is an element of achievement that i feel when i conquer a city alone. ten time out of ten, though, i wish i had someone with me.

  53. I LOVE traveling alone. Its just me and my thoughts and my camera, and I can soak it all in and do whatever I please. So far I’ve been to Portugal, Ireland and England alone. Portugal was magical as a solo adventure!

    wwww.shawnasimmons.com

  54. When I was 18, I set off on my Gap year (a UK thing that means a year of traveling before university) all on my own. I went to New Zealand and Australia for 10 months, and did a bit of travelling and working. I was hopelessly naive and didn’t know what i was getting myself into, but it turned out to be the best thing i could have ever done. It sounds cheesy, but i learned so much about myself and it really made me come out of my shell. It’s not for everyone but it’s extremely interesting to se how you cope in that kind of situation.

  55. I did a solo trip once so far and I loved it. I went to Antwerp, Belgium for a few days and it was awesome. And it was a real challenge, as I had never traveled much and never alone. So finding my way through train connections and the city was a bit tricky sometimes but it all worked out!
    I really enjoyed wandering through Antwerp (I really really recommend this city, its beautiful!), just soaking in everything, doing some shopping, stopping to eat or drink whenever I wanted. It was good not having to match your schedule to your co-traveler :) Its an experience I would not do, like, every year or so but I will definitely do it again!

  56. I took my first solo trip to London last year and it was the best trip of my life. I went for a 2 day photography workshop but planned the trip for 8 days. It was a little lonely at times, but mostly I just loved being on my own schedule and not having to take care of someone else’s needs – if I wanted to sit and people watch for an hour I could and I didn’t have to worry that someone else would find it boring. It was a completely empowering experience too, because I realized I could manage just fine doing all the complicated travel things one must do.

  57. I traveled alone to Paris by choice, several years ago. I was on a European trip with my boyfriend for the first half, and from Berlin was going to rendez-vous with a friend in Rotterdam. So I decided to carve out a 2-night in Paris tout seul. It was really fun and dreamy, albeit lonely to be in an entire country by myself where I had an unconfident grasp of the language. I mostly enjoyed myself, especially when I randomly happened upon an art opening by the Seine where I drank free wine and pretended to blend in. I somehow felt stronger after this trip but was happy to unite with familiar company a few days later.

  58. YES! Three of my favorite trips were me all by myself… I went to Santa Monica, San Antonio, and Chicago- all for different reasons- on my own. Each trip entailed meeting up with others, but it was my solo time that really made the trip great. I got to wake up, eat, walk, nap, drink, etc. on my own time. I was able to go for runs, go shopping, and visit museums without anyone saying it sounded boring. I also stalked out some parks, beaches, and coffee shops and just read books for hours. It was wonderful to do something that was so totally ME.

  59. I LOVE traveling alone. I enjoy traveling alone a lot more than I do with others.

    Here are my reasons:

    1) You are free to do whatever you feel like doing, if you feel like doing it and at the time you feel like doing it. Liberating!

    2) You will always meet new people. It’s amazing to realize how full of changes to know amazing people life is if you are open to it.

    3) You will always leran about yourself. For me this is the big advantage of traveling alone.

    In my opinion everyone has to try it at least once.

    I’ve travelled alone to sevral places and there’s not an specific type of place that is better to be discovered alone. It all depends on what you are looking for at the moment.

  60. i think it depends on some’s situation, too; i think if you have a really hectic life where other people rely on you, solo traveling can be relaxing.

    i took my first solo (and international trip) a few years ago; the first half of my trip a friend tagged along in Japan. then i went off to South Korea on my own. it’s definitely a different experience! rewarding in it’s own way: very thought-provoking and i was way more willing to talk to and hang out with complete strangers. at the same time, i wished i had other friends there to share the experience :)

  61. Would definitely travel alone – near or far. I’m very comfortable going to places on my own so I think it sounds heavenly to take a trip by myself as well. I might be a little bummed at some point that my husband isn’t with me to experience the awesomeness, but solo travel is good for the soul in my opinion.

  62. i love travelling alone! now that i have a daughter, i would have a hard time not bringing her with me, but i used to travel alone all the time…berlin, prague, mexico. it was always a great experience!

  63. I did a 2 week solo trip in Iceland last year. I would travel solo again without hesitation. It was nice to have no obligations, not have to do something that I wasn’t excited about because it was the nice thing to do. There were a few moments that were a little lonely, but it forced me, an introvert, to make an effort to talk to people and make some new friends.

  64. I used to spend three months of each year on the road — alone — as a college admissions counselor. While there were moments of loneliness, I truly value having had the experience of traveling solo. Now, I don’t bat an eye at the possibility of dining alone, traveling alone, or experiencing unexpected set-backs or delays.

    While those three months weren’t exactly a vacation, I savored the free time I had in each city to do exactly what I wanted WHEN I wanted. A visit to Graceland at 8AM on a Wednesday? No problem, I’m there.

  65. I can’t imagine travelling WITH someone! I used to think I didn’t know anyone I liked enough to travel together…and now I have a man and a son (and one on the way)…I’d definitely want the alone time!
    I wandered around Europe for a year, then taught in Japan for two years, and then wandered around Asia for another year, by myself. Thing is, you’re only alone until you say, “hi” to someone. I highly recommend it!

  66. I went to South America for 3 weeks alone and had an amazing experience. I used a friends flat as a base and travelled to the Northern Chile alone. I found travelling solo really exhilarating and you are more likely to chat to strangers than if you were with a friend. Do it!

  67. I would absolutely love to travel alone and just be me with me. It’s been quite a while since I’ve done that and I miss hanging out with me.

  68. Since I got divorced I have travelled around A LOT.

    I actually did a whole trip around the world on my own and it was AMAZING (how would any trip around the world not be, right?).

    Traveling solo helped me a lot to do many, many other things on my own: go out for dinner, attend a concert, go to the movies…it’s all possible and fun :)

    I feel more free now than ever – I can decide and do anything and not depend on having a friend to go with me or missing out on something great just because I didn’t have company.

    But, mostly, traveling alone doesn’t mean you’re alone all the time. And it’s an invitation to socialize with locals and people you wouldn’t talk to if you were with someone else.

    Every one should try it once!

  69. I’ve traveled to visit my family abroad alone for almost 10 years now. Last year I was transit in London for a day and I enjoyed it so much! I feel very stressed when I’m travelling on a plane with someone. Solo trips are more relaxing and I don’t have to deal with constantly interacting with someone.
    I like being around people in my daily life but not during travels.

  70. I absolutely love traveling alone!! (That being said, I also enjoy traveling in a group). When you’re alone in a new place, being Falling Water in Pennsylvania or in rural Udaipur in India, it really forces you to experience everything that is around you and engage all of your senses. It’s sometimes so wonderfully peaceful to be able to absorb into your own thoughts and perspectives. In Udaipur, I love being able to experience the new culture, customs, food, sights by myself and learn about myself and the world as a person. It also allows for you to make new friends that you otherwise might not make when you’re in a group!! :)

  71. I actually just returned from 1 month of traveling alone (after a 2-month internship in Israel) and I loved every part of it. Yes, some days were lonely, but my everyday experiences and conversations outweighed the random lonely days. :)

  72. Absolutely. At 18 I went down to Ecuador alone – to join a local volunteer project. I loved travelling in South America so much that I went back down there earlier this year at 23 alone for a month and a half. I travelled through Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile essentially alone save for meeting people along the way and travelling with them for a few days here and there.
    I would be nervous about going somewhere I couldn’t speak the language at least conversationally. It was an awesome experience and I would do it over 100 times.

  73. Oh yes! I traveled through Thailand alone on an epic three week vacation. It was a little disorienting at first, but then so freeing. I made some great Thai friends, including a special gentleman friend ;), loved like a local and had a wonderful time. I think traveling alone gave me an extra layer of confidence in myself and my abilities to adjust to different situations. I have no anxiety about being in new places or around new people.

  74. I traveled to Australia and back by myself when I was 22. While there I met up with my boyfriend (now husband), but I spent a few nights in Sydney alone and had a great time! I took care of myself, saw and did what I wanted, ordered room service–it was great (and expensive–oops)!

  75. I traveled to Australia and back by myself when I was 22. While there I met up with my boyfriend (now husband), but I spent a few nights in Sydney alone and had a great time! I took care of myself, saw and did what I wanted, ordered room service–it was great (and expensive–oops)!

  76. Last May I travelled alone to Europe for 3 weeks. My trip was truly a magical and special experience with some occasional anxiety and peppered with moments of loneliness. Alas, I wouldn’t change a thing!

    I began my journey in Brussels and ended in Amsterdam. I stayed with some lovely hosts through AirBNB, which made this trip seem less lonely! The people I stayed with were so easy to talk to and truly made me feel at home. It’s true that when you travel solo, you’re able to take in things you may not have noticed with a travel companion. I was able to stop to take as many photos as I wanted, go into any little shop, and was given the opportunity to just get lost in these moments. I feel truly blessed that I took this trip alone and would do it again in a heartbeat. Maybe next time… Thailand :)

  77. I love that quote about traveling alone in Paris—it is perfect and true. The first time I went to Paris, I traveled alone. While I love traveling with others, I loved slowly taking in the city on my own and that my trip was such a personal experience.

  78. Yes yes yes! When I discovered that I was pregnant, I booked a five week trip to Europe and North Africa. Alone. It was completely wonderful, and I met many wonderful people along the way. Part of growing as a person is checking in with yourself along the way. Traveling alone is like treating yourself by giving back to yourself.

    “The time will come
    when, with elation,
    you will greet yourself arriving
    at your own door, in your own mirror,
    and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
    and say, sit here. Eat.

    You will love again the stranger who was your self.
    Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
    to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
    all your life, whom you ignored
    for another, who knows you by heart.

    Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
    the photographs, the desperate notes,
    peel your own image from the mirror.
    Sit. Feast on your life.”
    by Derek Walcott

  79. This is an interesting topic. I am a Dane and my generel impression is that the majority of Danes would not go travel alone. However there are always exceptions, in this case myself included.

    I would not characterize myself as an introvent since I love meeting and interacting with new people, especially abroad. But then as much as I love meeting new people I also enjoy spending time by myself. When I was younger (I am currently 25 years) I loved go on adventures by myself. Back then (and still today) I would never go travelling with e.g. a girlfriend. On the other hand I love go travelling with my boyfriend, sister and mum. So to me it really depends on who I am travelling with as to whether I enjoy travelling with someone or not. Because I would defiantly not just go travel with someone only for the sake of it, then I would much rather go by myself.

    During my 20th year I travelled to Australia where I lived one year as an au pair. That was an amazing experience which changed me in so many (good ways). I got a lot my confident and simply had nothing but trust in strangers I met where ever I would go. I have also been to London for a weekend by myself. I really wanted to go to the city and so I just went. That too turned out to be a great experience to me. I met a lot of other travellers and had some interesting encounters and conversations with some of those people I met during my tree day stay in London. Also I been to NYC for a few days by myself. I actually went there with my sister, but she went back home to Denmark a few days before me so I spend the last couple of days in the big city by myself. Once again I had a great time.

    Overall, it is my experince that when you travel by yourself you are far more openminded towards strangers than if you went with someone you know.

  80. Yes yes yes! When I discovered that I was pregnant, I booked a five week trip to Europe and North Africa. Alone. It was completely wonderful, and I met many wonderful people along the way. Part of growing as a person is checking in with yourself along the way. Traveling alone is like treating yourself by giving back to yourself.

    “The time will come
    when, with elation,
    you will greet yourself arriving
    at your own door, in your own mirror,
    and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
    and say, sit here. Eat.

    You will love again the stranger who was your self.
    Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
    to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
    all your life, whom you ignored
    for another, who knows you by heart.

    Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
    the photographs, the desperate notes,
    peel your own image from the mirror.
    Sit. Feast on your life.”
    by Derek Walcott

  81. I would absolutely travel alone, but I think part of the fun of traveling is to share the experience. If only you could have both at the same time…Maybe agree to split up for an afternoon?

    http://dontblamethekids.com

  82. I’ve never really done it (other than, like you a day alone in France due to airline issues), but I want to so badly!! I actually planned a solo trip to San Francisco last year but my mom ended up inviting herself. We had a great time together, so it was fine, but I was really looking forward to just doing my own thing and not worrying about someone else. I think it was hard for people to understand that I actually WANTED to go alone, but I was looking forward to some time by myself.

  83. I just re-discovered your “split for a day during vacations” post… so funny that you have a fresh blog on the solo topic! I don’t know if I would want to go on a whole trip alone, but under the right circumstances it sounds like it could be amazing!

  84. I love traveling alone. I really enjoy wandering cities or sites by myself, sitting in cafes or on park benches and just watching the world go by. I always meet people along the way, particularly since I usually stay in hostels. I once met an older guy in Costa Rica who had been traveling alone, all over Central and South America, for the past 6 years! That’s a little too long for me. I spent last summer traveling through Mexico, and around the third month I was wishing for a travel partner.

  85. i spent a birthday weekend alone in Gettysburg one year. it felt indulgent and incredibly wonderful to not have to TALK to anyone. i dined alone at a lovely italian restaurant, went back to the B&B, took a long bath and watched a movie.

  86. Yes, most definitely! I crave my solitude, a space to think and what better way to explore the world on my own and getting lost is half the fun! I’ve travelled a few places in the past years and the experience has been wonderful, met the most amazing people! Highly recommended! :)

  87. I love the idea of traveling alone…I haven’t much experience with it, but when I have had the chance, I love the lowered expectations and the ability to just roam and be concerned with your own thoughts and feelings. It sounds selfish, but when traveling with others, I am often so overly concerned with every one elses feelings and temperment and enjoyment level, I often find myself anxious and not fully enjoying the experience.

  88. My sister travels alone all the time. She’s taken crazy trips to Morocco and Central and South America by herself. It’s all so funny to me because she’s so over protective of my kids but she’ll go off on crazy adventures alone. I do like the idea but not sure I’d be able to do it for too long. I do really love going to the movies by myself though :).

  89. I love traveling alone! I do it often, and thankfully my husband doesn’t mind. I’ve traveled to places my husband won’t or isn’t as interested in going (DRC, Rwanda, Ethiopia, China, etc.), and I find it liberating. It’s a holdover from when I was single, and traveled alone before i met him. It does limit things you are able to do (especially as a female in some environs), but I love figuring out things myself.

  90. I’m definitely an extrovert, but I love traveling alone. Instead of visiting an art museum with a friend and spending 1 minute at each painting in case the other person likes it, you find yourself moving through an entire room that doesn’t inspire you and gazing at a new favorite for a half an hour. I found everything with traveling alone is that way. You set your own pace and do exactly what you’re in the mood for. I spent 2 months backpacking through Europe and I would spend a few days with a friend, then by myself, then meet up in a new city with a new friend. It was perfect.

  91. Oh I love solo trips though I don’t get to take so many. I spent a day alone in Paris (coincidentally) and it was wonderful. Noone to rush me when I just wanted to sit by the Seine, browse through books and prints on those quaint shopw by the river, sip on some coffee, et. al. But I guess I’d like some company now and then. It would be great to get together with friends for a meal or two while on such a solo trip.

  92. I travel alone all the time, but these days I’m very often seeing or staying with someone else at some point along the journey (a stop here to visit with so and so for a night, a quick day excursion to have lunch with another friend…) It wasn’t until this fall when I found myself in Palm Springs that I was reminded of how much I love—and thrive—from that feeling of being somewhere new, obligation-free, and entirely by myself.

    Some of my friends were horrified to hear that I’d taken this trip alone—that word breeds a lot of fear—and some even felt sorry for me. Those that really got me, understood, even if it’s not the way they would choose to travel themselves. And there were a few kindred spirits who were downright envious. They, like Rosenbloom, know that for us, the beauty of the experience is that you’re never really alone. Your surroundings become your companions. Your interactions with locals and other travelers become that much more significant. And the freedom to choose how you wish to spend your days, without negotiation, is an exhilarating one, whether you’ve traveled to a distant hemisphere, or you’re enjoying a secret staycation on the other side of town.
    http://www.lauraneilson.com/?p=1810

  93. I love your blog. Only found it recently. I’m terrified of flying (so I liked your post the other day too) but I do like travelling alone, and get so much from it. For the last 4 to 5 years I have made a habit of doing something by myself without my husband. I have worked my way through Sicily and Italy, spent two weeks driving round Iceland and spent some time in Russia. This came about because my husband was working away for 2 weeks once teaching students in the field, and I decided to take the chance to do my own thing. Now I love to do it when I can as a supplement to our other holidays. I find it teaches me a lot, and is a challenge, but when I come back I always feel really confident!

  94. Check out some pictures of my trip to Paris on laprofesseur.blogspot.nl

  95. As a French teacher and mom of four, it has been a pleasure to me to visit Paris alone. I rode a bike all day, to every place I wanted to see again. I saw a few movies, had great lunches and dinners and took the time to talk to strangers. That is FREEDOM to me!

  96. What a lovely post! I used to be petrified of traveling alone – and in fact the first time I did it, in Madrid, I was followed around by a creepy man for 4 hours who just wouldn’t take the hint (granted, the polite 19 year old Canadian girl I was at the time was to shy to just tell him to get lost…) but since having moved permanently to Paris, traveling alone has become a joy for me. Paris is so close to many beautiful places, and your friends aren’t always going to be able to come with, so sometimes you gotta set out on your own and check things out.

    So true what the journalist said about time slowing down – or rather that she noticed more things being alone on her trip. No one travels at the same pace, and no one explores at the same pace. So being alone can be much more fun sometimes.

    Though I wouldn’t always travel alone. I just think that you shouldn’t stop yourself from going for lack of a travel partner :)

  97. All the time!

    Not to self promote, or anything, but my blog (http://www.wanderlustin.co.uk) is all about my solo adventures. If you’re in the mood for inspiration. It. Is. The. Best. I love travelling alone- in fact this weekend I am spending the weekend with two girls in Berlin who I met travelling through Spain this summer. I can’t wait :D

  98. Right after taking the bar exam I went to Croatia with a group of law school friends and it was amazing. I really wanted to go to Italy but everyone else in the group had already been or couldn’t stay longer. I had several weeks before my first job started so I decided to add on ten extra days by myself. I traveled to Venice, Verona, Florence, Pompeii, and Rome alone. It was a little weird at first but also exhilarating! It was also really empowering. I highly recommend doing something like that at least once. I’m married and have a toddler now so I don’t think I’d want to do ten days by myself at this point in my life. But I’d love a weekend alone. Just flying solo and staying in my own hotel room for a night or two would be a dream! I’d also really love to do a trip with just my husband. We travel a lot with our toddler and we love it but a nice adult weekend in a big city also sounds fabulous.

  99. Dear Joanna,
    seven years ago I traveled to Paris by myself, I was there for 3 days and loved it. The only thing I didn’t like was to have my meals alone, at the restaurant my company was a book.
    Usualy I visit places alone, in my country, I bring music, a book and a camera with me, to make me company. I feel a certain freedom knowing I can travel alone to “strange” places. Wish you a wonderful weekend.

  100. I travelled alone a lot, sometimes several months in a row. These are my best travelling memoreis, when i really got to know the locals and open up to the culture without being drawn back to my own language and habits by a travel companion.

    My next challenge might be travelling alone with a baby! But we’ll start by travelling as a couple with a baby first ;)!

  101. There is something quietly beautiful about traveling by yourself. I went to India and the Congo, and still regard both trips as my most memorable. It can get lonely and tricky (when you need someone to watch your luggage for instance). Nonetheless, everyone should do it a least once – the experience stays with you.

  102. A few years ago I traveled around the Lofoten Islands (in the Norwegian Sea) by myself. It was Arctic day, so the sun never set! It was a bit lonely at times, but all around *really* fun, and it felt like the fjords and the cliffs were keeping me company.

  103. i’ve been dreaming of going to thailand by myself and hope to to it in the next 2 years! i love being alone, quiet, walking around, reading, thinking, exploring… i did an interrail once across europe by myself, but i was meeting friends in different countries so basically only the traveling was by myself. and i loved it! i met so many people! can’t wait to do it again :)

  104. em says...

    Have and do all the time and in many parts of the world. I love it. Though I must say that it is most challenging to be alone- traveling or otherwise- when it comes to dinnertime. I love to wander streets, cobbled or dirt, by myself for hours and hours, but when the sun starts to set and the belly gets hungry, this is when I crave another, to share a bottle of wine, a tasty meal, and a conversation about the day’s discoveries.

  105. For sure! I’ve traveled to Dubai alone and Dublin as well and I’m going to Athens alone this Fall. It’s great to get away from it all and not be tied to anyone else’s schedule. I also love travelling with friends but breaking off for a few hours each day to do our own thing. If you travel with someone and you’re together 24/7, it’s sometimes stressful which defeats the purpose of holiday!

  106. Of course I would! I’ve travelled alone several times, for example I’ve inter railed twice alone (that means travelling europe by train for a couple of weeks). I think there good stuff and less-good stuff whether you’re travelling alone, with your partner/one good friend or in a big group. For me, travelling alone is a good thing because I can do exactly what I want to do, it’s easier to meet new people and it makes me feel independent. On the other side, eating dinner alone in a restaurant is not that fun, so when I travel alone I opt for hostels to be able to meet people and eat with them. Also, you have to remember there’ll be nobody to share the memories from the trip with you, but for me it’s ok. I only wish travelling alone would be seen more “normal”, because I’ve got some weird looks when I’ve told that I’m going somewhere alone. Some people seriously have this look “doesn’t she have any friends to go with?!”. It’s getting a bit tiring in some point even to explain that even though you travel alone you’re not lonely and friendless…

  107. I have always wanted to travel alone to a new place. I decided to go to Peru all by myself on my 30th birthday a couple years back, but as luck would have it and I shouldn’t be complaining, a friend came along. Eventually, I traveled solitary to San Francisco, a place I had visited once before. It was so much fun! I wrote about the experience on my erstwhile blog, especially the dining alone bit (http://pursuitoffood.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/table-for-one/). Finally and thankfully I managed a first trip to Kenya this year without any companions! It really is wonderful in so many ways. You must try it, Joanna!

  108. I just spent a week in London alone and it was awesome. I will say occasionally I wished I had someone to share a great meal with, but it was great. I went on an after dark Jack the Ripper tour, ate a great fish pie at J Sheekey’s while reading the newspaper, and spent an entire morning wandering around the British Museum looking at exactly what I wanted to see! I also spent a day meandering through Hampstead after a big breakfast. I even went to a west end show alone! I highly encourage it! :)

  109. I’ve had two trips to paris where i’ve end up in the city alone for a day or two – it’s a wonderful city to be in by yourself.
    I also travel a lot by myself for work, i love the freedom of it, you can go wherever you like, spend as long in galleries as you like etc. I do struggle with what to eat when i’m travelling alone though, I feel a little silly sitting in a restaurant but i’m not a big sandwhich fan…

  110. I travelled across Europe by myself for 7 weeks when I was 19. I loved it but there were low points – I’ll never forget standing on top of the Eiffel Tower watching couples laugh and kiss and I had to disguise my tears. I missed my boyfriend so much. The final straw was seeing the sign that identified the distance between there and home (Sydney) after seeing that I felt so alone and homesick! Thankfully I recovered! I never regret doing it by myself and would do it again! x

  111. I love the way you talk about my home town :)

  112. I’ve had two trips to paris where i’ve end up in the city alone for a day or two – it’s a wonderful city to be in by yourself.
    I also travel a lot by myself for work, i love the freedom of it, you can go wherever you like, spend as long in galleries as you like etc. I do struggle with what to eat when i’m travelling alone though, I feel a little silly sitting in a restaurant but i’m not a big sandwhich fan…

  113. I’ve had two trips to paris where i’ve end up in the city alone for a day or two – it’s a wonderful city to be in by yourself.
    I also travel a lot by myself for work, i love the freedom of it, you can go wherever you like, spend as long in galleries as you like etc. I do struggle with what to eat when i’m travelling alone though, I feel a little silly sitting in a restaurant but i’m not a big sandwhich fan…

  114. . says...

    In 4 weeks I’m travelling from Australia to New York City for 5 weeks alone (eeep!) I have to admit I’ve been planning it for over a year but have only just started thinking about the realities of being alone in a strange city for such a long time. It’s super scary! But as a friend said recently, when you travel alone you can be whatever version of yourself you need to be. Sometimes it forces you to be more social/outgoing/adventurous than you thought you were and you learn and grow from it. (I certainly hope so! ha!)

  115. For me, I have always been an introvert and enjoyed time by myself not having to talk to anyone (woohoo, life and soul of the party!). In many ways I’m a very sociable person but I need time by myself to recharge. I traveled alone around the world when I was 19 (though picked up different group trips etc along the way) and found it the most profound experience that really helped me “grow up”

    Since having my babies (currently 3 and 1) I crave alone time desperately and the idea of a weekend in Paris – or anywhere – having to think about no one’s needs but my own seems decadent and fabulous! And though I can get by in French, the not talking to many people aspect for a while is just a bonus! Kind of like a slient meditation retreat…

    By the way Joanna, I haven’t commented before but love reading your blog, think we’re about the same age and babies around the same age, I can relate to so much that you post about. Thanks for creating such an interesting community here, the discussions in the comments are always a great read and I love the way people share their thoughts and experiences. Happy Friday!

  116. Absolutely! Best trip of my life was to France for my 40th – spent 4 days in Paris with friends, then we spent 6 days apart, then regrouped in Provence for my birthday and the rest of the trip. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoyed the company when we were together, but I also loved doing what I wanted, when I wanted, for however long I wanted when I was solo. Every day of travelling solo was simultaneously terrifying and thrilling – but I would do it again in a heartbeat – here I was in a place I’d always wanted to be – and I wasn’t going to let my fear of being alone stand in the way of soaking it all in. And I had a major curve thrown at me: an hour before I arrived in Provence, the real estate agent called to tell me that the owner had changed her mind about renting her adorable apartment in the village – I ended up in a 7 room, 3 story farmhouse down a dirt road in the pouring rain at midnight – all signs pointed to me dead by morning. But it turned out great, lovely, convenient to all the places I wanted to go, awesome kitchen. Do I want to travel solo all the time? No. But I enjoy a different kind of happy when I do. And I will say, when you travel solo, you don’t have anyone else to make suggestions/decisions for you – and I do hate feeling like I’m wasting time trying to decide, “what should I see/do today?” So I do like to travel with a list of possibilities – maybe I’ll do some/all/none, but at least I’ve got some ideas to get me going.