Travel

Have You Ever Traveled Alone?

Traveling Alone to Paris for a 30th Birthday

Would you take a vacation by yourself? This spring, my friend Kate Childs took herself to Paris — alone for a week — to celebrate her 30th birthday. I was curious: Where did she stay? What did she eat? Did she ever get lonely? Here, she tells us how the week went down…

Traveling Alone to Paris for a 30th Birthday

For the drama of it all, I flew overnight so that I landed in Paris on my actual birthday. (The last great accomplishment of my twenties? Packing only a carry-on.)

Traveling Alone to Paris for a 30th Birthday

Traveling Alone to Paris for a 30th Birthday

I stayed at the beautiful Hôtel Providence. My friends had called and arranged for a bottle of rosé and treats to be put in my room when I arrived, so the hotel knew it was my birthday and that I was traveling solo. Staying at a boutique hotel where everyone got to know me was a real bonus. They would ask how my birthday week was going and what I was doing each day. There was also a great restaurant and bar, so when I came back at night, there were people around.

Traveling Alone to Paris for a 30th Birthday

When you’re a solo traveler, your itinerary is your partner in crime. The first couple days were structured, and then, once I got more comfortable, it became free-flowing. Early in the trip, it felt good to have a purpose: I’m going to wake up and walk to this neighborhood and do that.

My mornings began with breakfast at the hotel. The first day, I went to a spa and to see a ballet. The next day, I went to a cooking class and a few museums. I also ended up walking 15 miles one day — I’d never been to Paris before and I couldn’t believe how beautiful everything was.

Traveling Alone to Paris for a 30th Birthday

The cooking class was run by a French-Canadian chef. The class was six hours and quite intensive! There were eight students, and afterward everyone sat together and ate what we had made: salt-crusted roast chicken with mushroom sauce, duck fat potatoes, artichokes and a chocolate mousse tart.

Traveling Alone to Paris for a 30th Birthday

When traveling alone, you’re focusing on the very micro-things you need — do I want to eat now? Do I want to shop now? Do I want to walk down this street? And it opens you up to more macro-conversations with yourself. What am I doing with my life? Do I like where I’m living? When you have the time and space to figure things out, that’s a huge gift to yourself.

Traveling Alone to Paris for a 30th Birthday

I figured I’d bring books out to dinner, but then I realized you can use a book as a crutch. If you don’t have one, you’re open to overhearing something, making conversation with a neighboring table, watching what the chef is doing. I thought I might get restless — like, what would I think about for two hours without a book or a friend? But it was just really pleasant. My favorite dinners were at Spring and Frenchie.

Traveling Alone to Paris for a 30th Birthday

Traveling alone, I could do whatever I felt like in the moment. I went to the Musée d’Orsay, and after it closed, I saw someone riding a Vélib’ city bike. So, I rented one and rode past riverside cafés where people were just sitting outside, drinking and talking, and I thought, I want to do that, so I parked the bike and got a glass of wine and sat by the river.

Traveling Alone to Paris for a 30th Birthday

Traveling Alone to Paris for a 30th Birthday

Traveling Alone to Paris for a 30th Birthday

I did the same thing at Versailles. When I arrived, the lines were too long, so I walked down to the gardens. There was a place where you could rent bikes, so I rode through the entire garden of Marie Antoinette, then grabbed a baguette with ham and cheese, and wandered back through the gardens. It was one of my favorite parts of the trip.

Traveling Alone to Paris for a 30th Birthday

I’d encourage anyone to consider taking a solo trip. There are so many rewards. I feel much braver now that I was able to do this. I never felt lonely, and it’s very fulfilling to know that you enjoy your own company. It was also great to do this special thing, where you just say yes to everything. Yes, I’m going to have an ice-cream sundae right now. Yes, I’m going to go to the Picasso Museum. It felt like a sign of the decade to come. I’m ready to go.

Traveling Alone to Paris for a 30th Birthday

Thank you so much, Kate!

P.S. How to pack without wrinkles, and a hair trick for vacations.

  1. I’d badly want to do this, but don’t know where to start! I’ve googled “trips to paris,” went on groupon (all prices are made only for 2 people instead of individually), and read about other people going, but I never know how they planned their trip.

    Any recommendations? In any of the aspects – travel, lodging, etc.

    • Kate says...

      Hi Laura – I started with the hotel. I fell in love with the photos of Hotel Providence on a blog, and then started researching flights and watching them until they were at a good price. After booking the hotel and flight, I started following Paris bloggers on Instagram and that gave me a lot of ideas for places to visit (@ParisInFourMonths, @RueRodier @FrenchWords, @LeParisBlog). I had a very detailed itinerary, and I loved mapping everything out in advance. Enjoy the process!

    • Jessica C says...

      Look at Airbnb! Or cute bed & breakfasts (tripadvisor can help)!

    • Julie says...

      Planning is my favorite part of my trip! Although I’m a planner!! Pinterest can be a great resource, I start pinning things I want to do. Also I create a google map which you can create categories so you can do “activities” “hotels” “food.” Once I’ve done that it can help me decide where to stay in city. I also check blogs I like for city guides and my favorite travel guides are Lonely Planet (if you are planning with a buddy I try and pick different guides, my friend loves Rick Steves and between the two of us we get some good tips). If you’re concerned about planning often these guides will give a general few day itinerary, I used Rick Steves 3 day Rome trip when I went there. But also leave room for spontaneity. Usually I try and plan 1-2 activities for a day and leave the rest to chance. If you’re budgeting food I try and plan 1-2 nice meals or places I want to check out in a city but leave the rest to my day to day feelings. In terms of getting to know cities, I recommend walking walking walking. You get to see so much. Often I’ll pick a destination and if I have my google map made I can see what food is around if I get hungry or want to see something else close by. Also recommend understanding you’ll have days you’re just TIRED. if you’re planning a longer trip where you’re moving around, I splurge on a nicer hotel near the end and try and plan down days (I.e. Laying in a park, sitting by the ocean, sleeping in and getting coffee etc) every 3-4 days. Hope this helps!

  2. Jules says...

    Kate’s trip sounds amazing. I minored in French in college and majored in history, but I’ve never been to Europe. I desperately want to go, but now I’ve got two little ones and another on the way, so Europe is years and a lottery win away. I don’t think I’d like traveling alone though. I’m the youngest of a large family and after a few hours alone I get quite lonely. Plus, I’d love to experience Europe with my husband!

  3. Kate says...

    Love this!! Through all the times I’ve traveled alone, I never managed to pull off a single carry-on. I’m dying to know what she packed!

    • Kate says...

      Ha! I do travel light. I packed clothes in the same color palette so I could mix and match easily. I also committed to Vince sneakers by day and a pair of heels for night (and running sneakers), so I made sure all of my outfits worked with those two pairs.

  4. Sue says...

    My brave and beautiful daughter did just this at 18 – for a month. Albeit we are in the UK so she was a little closer to home. She still maintains it was the best thing she’s ever done and that nothing is ever as scary as that. And, to be fair not much fazes her these days – at the grand old age of 21…..!

  5. Jessica says...

    I went to Paris alone for 5 weeks 2 summers ago. I took French classes & cooking classes. It was such a lovely treat to myself, after business school & before I got married and returned to work. I have fond memories of eating out in Paris alone, walking along the Seine and exploring the city.

  6. I love to travel, it would be nice to take a solo trip sometime in the future. Lovely post and pictures.

  7. s says...

    I love, love, love this post. I have read the post and every single comment and enjoyed hearing of others adventures.

  8. courtney says...

    in two weeks, i’ll be headed on a solo euro journey (my second one in two years). like others, i enjoy not having to compromise on the itinerary. also, it’s challenging to find people who can get the time off, have the funds, share an interest in visiting the same places, and have a similar travel style.

  9. Lizzie says...

    Until last year I had always travelled alone – It’s completely liberating. You see, hear and smell things you would have never noticed with your attention on another person. For those who say they aren’t brave enough – you are!!! Sure there are times you’ll be afraid, walk down the wrong street, get food poisoning, whatever. But isn’t that what life is about? Embracing the ever changing? There are equally fantastic times like finding an incredible cafe or restaurant, taking the perfect picture, meeting a new friend, crying alone on a bench because the view is so beautiful. Take chances! Love life!

  10. Ellen says...

    I travelled to Europe alone when I was 19, and had such a similar experience (on a slimmer budget of course). It seems such a shame to wait till your 30th birthday to do so!

  11. lindsay says...

    When I was 21 I went to Venice Italy to be an au pair but after a few weeks feeling miserable, I found a bed and breakfast on the other coast in Genoa I could rent (friend of a friend) and stayed for a few months. I traveled everywhere mostly alone, to the south of France a few times, Florence, Cinque Terre and along the northern Italian coastline. it was wonderful being alone! I loved the peace, being able to just observe everything around me all the time and really soak it in. I traveled with others on a study abroad as well as recently with my husband and I actually prefer to be alone in many ways! The times I wished for others was when enjoying the food or really spectacular beauty, I wanted to share it with someone. But there is something about being alone, you see things better, not having the distraction.

  12. jen says...

    i spent a week in paris alone when i was 21! that trip would be very different now since i will be 42 very soon. would i travel alone now? not really. i have a great partner and if we had a chance to travel without the kids i would definitely want him to be there with me.

  13. I had actually booked a trip to Brussels, for 3 nights, and I was traveling solo, since none of the people I like travelling with would be available on those days. Two weeks before, on of the said persons realized how they could actually manage the trip and arrange their work around it, so I had company in the end, but I was ready to do it alone.
    I traveled alone in the past for 4 days, but to a place where I had spent 3 years of my life, even though I had no friends there any more. My sister, whom I met after these days, still says I was the calmest she’s ever seen me. Ever!
    It’s funny how on my 29th birthday a few months ago I said that for my 30th I’d book a ticket and travel overnight, to wake up somewhere foreign and nice and spend a few days by myself, like Kate, here!

  14. molly says...

    I just got back from my first solo trip to Italy. Sort of solo that is, I actually I went to visit my cousin, who is in Italy for grad school; so for the first 5 days all of my day trips were solo and I would meet up with her for dinner. I stayed in Bologna and visited Parma, Modena, Florence and Venice without her. I can relate to Kate about walking 15 miles. The day I visited Florence, I walked 14 miles. Comfy shoes are a MUST.

    It was easily the best trip of my life so far and I am so happy I decided to go. A little daunting the first day, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. I really gained self confidence and surprised myself with how content I was being alone. I found that my itinerary was pivotal in feeling comfortable. I also printed a copy for my boyfriend to have. Knowing that someone knew where I was and what my day looked like was also a huge relief.

  15. I love this! I’ve always wanted to travel alone, but would prefer to do it somewhere I’ve been before, so I can relax a bit. I studied abroad in Paris during college, and my favorite times were when I took an entire day to explore the city on my own. I went to the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and some churches alone, and had lunch by myself. That lunch was also the first time I ate escargot, and it would have been nice to have someone with me because I didn’t know how to use the tool! The waiter, who didn’t speak a lick of English, was so kind and helped me. It made for a fantastic story. This post really helps me appreciate that time even more!

  16. Julia says...

    Kate, I’m wondering: did people (men) approach you, seeing that you were having a drink or dinner etc. all by yourself?

    • Kate says...

      Hi Julia – They did, but it was very conversational and fun (one Frenchman had the best impression of New Yorkers!). I had a list of cocktail bars to try, but didn’t make it to many of them, preferring to do leisurely, long dinners – so I was mostly chatting with couples or groups of friends who were traveling.

    • Ser says...

      I found this happened to a frightening degree while traveling alone in Sicily. The first night there out to eat dinner I actually cried into my drink because literally every man was staring at me like I was meat. Everywhere I walked, men stared and cat called. A couple of nights in I befriended my Airbnb host and he introduced me to his friends and then I was included in their private parties and gatherings. He also advised me not to be intimidated by the men; to them, staring and cat calling is more like flirting than predation. Then, I learned to ignore it without feeling so hunted. Rome was different. Dining alone last year I was cordially invited to join three men who turned out to be doctors, who were starting a boutique organic skin care line called Bottega Organica. Then we had a lovely interesting evening of conversation. They walked me back to my hotel and bid me a polite and gentlemanly goodnight.

  17. Allegra says...

    I’ve been to NYC three times on my own (from overseas), the latest vacation was this spring. It’s amazing and the experiences I have on my own fill my heart in a completely different way than the vacations I’ve taken with friends or family do. Sort of my little secrets.

    Not going to lie, sometimes I wish I’d have someone to discuss the day’s events with, but if that’s the price I have to pay for the freedom, then so be it. There’s also more time to let everything fully soak in when you are not distracted by anyone else.

    Anyone who has even a tiniest bit of interest in solo travel, I so, so warmly recommend it.

  18. Heather says...

    I’d never be brave enough to travel alone. I hate this about myself, but at least I know! Props to anyone who can do it! I admire you!

  19. My first solo travel adventure a few years was not that great. After that I thought that traveling alone is “not for me”. Last year I had the chance to travel by myself to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and my experience was totally different. I enjoyed every single moment of it! Today I know what to make different when it comes to traveling alone.
    In any case I’d encourage everyone to give it at least a try.

  20. When my heart got broken a few years ago I took myself (alone) off to Santorini.

    I was a bit scared at first; as an over thinker I often found it hard to spend time alone with my thoughts. However, even though I stayed in a hostel so there were people around, I grew to love the time spent alone walking the streets, sipping wine and watching the sunset. It was so liberating and made me re appreciate that I can spend time by myself and make myself blissfully happy. I think everyone should travel solo once.

    Now whenever anyone says they have had their heart broken I tell them to book a plane ticket somewhere!

    • Ser says...

      I whole heartedly agree. I’ve been to Greece, Italy and Spain alone and it absolutely healed my heartbreak and restored my confidence

  21. Leslie says...

    I love traveling alone! I didn’t think I would, because I’m an extrovert. But I actually love it. This summarized my feelings exactly!

  22. Jesabes says...

    I love traveling solo! I’ve only taken weekend trips by myself, but they’re my favorite. I’m such an introvert even discussing with a travel companion what we want to do that day is draining. Not having to talk to anyone but the museum ticket-taker or waiters for days is very relaxing. As is being able to change plans without running it by anyone.

  23. Becca says...

    I’ve traveled alone a lot — as a student, then a graduate student, and now as a professor who often goes abroad for research. I love it. I can plan out my day and do exactly what I want to do, while avoiding the things I don’t want to do, or simply wander around. It’s hard to find a traveling companion perfectly in tune with how you travel. Some people get tired easily and stay too close to their already established comfort zones. Some people are too adventurous, and you find yourself exhausted and uncomfortable. Traveling alone also means that strangers will talk to you more and often offer you hospitality or company, so you get more out of the traveling experience.

  24. I will be traveling solo for the first time this summer to Paris (and maybe a few other cities) so this post couldn’t have come at a better time! I do get nervous from time to time in anticipation of the trip but am mostly excited and your post was definitely a boost. Thanks for sharing!

    • Kate says...

      Marisa, you’ll love it! Paris is the perfect destination for solo travel as there is so much to do and see, and you can create an itinerary that’s perfectly tailored to you. One of my favorite things I did was get a blowout – such a simple thing, but it gave me an hour to talk to the stylist about Paris and get my questions answered and hear about his life in Paris. Enjoy your trip!

    • Nina says...

      I always treat myself to a blowout whenever I travel abroad, especially when I’m on my own! It always makes me feel like I’m both stepping out my comfort zone (especially when there is a language barrier involved!) yet treating myself to my favorite type of pampering – I highly recommend it!

    • Ohh I’ve never had a blow out before. Might have to treat myself to one. That’s a great idea! Also definitely going to look into that cooking class.

  25. I’ve traveled around the Greek Islands by myself for a week and a half, and Thailand by myself for a week and a half. I also went to live in Scotland (and later, Japan) for 3 months without knowing anyone (and not part of an official program, so no built-in friends or roommates or anything)…did a lot of solo-traveling while living by myself in those foreign countries.

    It’s not really a big deal at all. It’s quite nice in short spurts, like a week or so.

  26. Eleven years ago, I made plans to travel from the States to Australia with friends. I bought my ticket, sorted my working holiday maker visa, and was ready for our four month adventure when everyone else backed out! I went by myself. It was daunting, thrilling, liberating, and occasionally lonely. It was a wondrous Choose Your Own Adventure that culminated in meeting my now husband at the end of the trip. Trust the universe, get out there, learn about yourself, and enjoy the magical serendipity of the world.

  27. Helen says...

    I booked my first solo trip for June. The timing of this post is spooky! I’m encouraged by this post. Perhaps this could be a new series on the blog? Like Motherhood around the world? I do hope so!

    • Sonya says...

      Ooohhh yes! I second that idea! I bet a lot of readers would love to contribute or be interviewed.

    • Claire says...

      I love this idea so much! I’ve read countless family or couple travel stories but would love to read about solo women or groups of female friends traveling together. :)

    • corina says...

      Oh yes! wonderful idea. I’d love to read more stories. I am sure women will get the courage to travel alone seeing how others did it. I myself traveled alone for the last 3 summer holidays in Italy and it was the best thing I ever did.

    • Jessica says...

      Oh I love this idea, Helen! I’m fascinated by the comments here and how diverse everyone’s experiences are–those who traveled solo when they were younger, those who have gone recently, single travelers, people who deliberately choose not to travel with a spouse or partner. It’s making me want to do the same!

    • Helen says...

      so Joanna, what about it? Sounds like you’ve started something here and there are a lot of tips to share! Helen xo

  28. I just booked a solo trip last week and I can’t stop thinking about it! It’s not until July, but I find myself daydreaming about what I’ll do, what kind of wine I’ll have by the fire, what I’ll read, eat. Etc. I’m embarrassingly excited about using the provided Aesop products in the hotel bathroom. I have two little ones, so a kid (and husband!) free weekend is going to be amazing. I can almost hear myself thinking now….

    • Melissa says...

      I smiled at your comment, because I totally get it! The getting excited about weird little things. Solo travel is great!

  29. Thirteen years ago, I spent three days in Gibraltar on my own (having recently been dumped by my then boyfriend). I went mainly to prove that I could. I found going back to the room at night the hardest part, as I missed having someone to discuss the day with and to make plans with. In 2012, I flew to New York solo (leaving my husband and toddler son at home in London), but I had a purpose as I went to meet my mum’s long-lost cousin. Also, I felt more comfortable in NYC because I’d visited several times before. I even braved going to the theatre (Jersey Boys) and then walked back to my hotel, having stopped at Starbucks on the way. I felt briefly like a local!

  30. Linh says...

    I love traveling by myself. During my time studying abroad in London, I went around the city by myself quite often and to go to Barcelona, Berlin, Paris, Budapest, Rome, Edinburgh, Dublin and Santorini by myself. It’s nice to travel with others and see the city through my perspective as well as others but something about traveling alone lets me be more present and more observant of the environment.

  31. I would LOVE to travel alone. In fact, it’s on my things-to-do-before-I-turn-30 bucket list :)

  32. I’ve thought so many times about doing this and chicken out. I’m now expecting so it won’t be for a while, however, I do want to go back to France, likely solo, and revisit the places where I lived, etc. while abroad. Loved this piece, especially because she went to a country near and dear to my heart. The cooking class sounds like something fun!

  33. Vivian Rugsland says...

    I absolutely love traveling by myself. Perhaps I loved it more before, but even now, it is something I enjoy.
    Between high school and now (8 years later) I have taken three “gap” years, to work and explore the world.
    Some of the experiences I had, include volunteering at a rural (6 hours to the closest city) hospital in Tanzania, hitch-hiking in Australia, working as a ranch-hand in Montana and backpacking in New Zealand. In between, I had several shorter trips around Europe.
    I am from Norway, but have somehow ended up in Wyoming pursuing an Energy Management MBA.

  34. Kara says...

    I am a private flight attendant. So I’m constantly traveling and on the go for someone else. I have taken solo trips to London, Italy, Germany, Puerto Rico, Chicago and San Francisco. There is nothing like having a week or a few days of me time. You would be surprised how many other solo travelers you will meet. I usually call it an adventure. The only issue I have found is mostly US cities, restaurants won’t let a single take a table. Europe it’s a very common thing.

    • Samantha says...

      Wow, it sounds so rude to deny a person of a table just because they’re by themselves. You don’t know if that person will order a three course meal and three drinks, or if a group of people will only share an entree and have one drink each when they come into the restaurant, so you can’t just deny a single person of a table! I would’ve been so upset.

  35. Isabelle DC says...

    I travelled alone to Madrid a few years ago. It was a lonely time in my life and I hated spending the summer at home, but I had no friends to accompany me… I was quite scared when I left but I just let it happen. I was still in my twenties and booked a bed in a hostel, which meant I had about 50 people around me who all wanted to talk. It was great! During the day I went shopping or sightseeing on my own, and at night I had dinner or went out with other hostel guests.

    Later I also went on my own to Paris, staying in a hotel.

    If you’re open to being on your own, you’re somehow also open to the city you’re visiting, smiling more, looking people in the eye, being more spontaneous about what you yourself want at a particular moment and people easily approach you, it’s a wonderful thing that gave me a lot more confidence!

  36. This is such a timely post as I’m currently planning a five-week solo trip through South America for this summer. My friends and family think I’m nuts, but I’ve always loved to travel alone: having the time and space to savor things fully is so rewarding! I remember many years ago I backpacked Eastern Europe with my then-boyfriend and he remarked at how I always noticed little things he would never have seen. At the time I was so happy to share with him but now single and happy, I feel traveling alone gives me the space to enjoy those little things in my own company. Thanks for the post and all the lovely commenters! :)

  37. Caroline says...

    I traveled alone on two occasions while studying abroad in college. I was 22 and decided to break away from the “norm” of traveling with your buddies and plastering photos all over social media. I went to Vienna and London. Those two trips alone were the best times I had, far outweighing the 10+ other European cities I had traveled to that same semester with friends. I HIGHLY recommend spending some time alone to travel.

  38. Tricia says...

    I have traveled alone abroad twice – well, sort of three times. I went to northern Thailand by myself to volunteer at an animal rescue for a week and then spent a few days in Chiang Mai alone before my friend came to meet me for the remainder of the trip. Volunteering was a wonderful way to travel alone because I wasn’t alone at all! I was with other volunteers, who were clearly like-minded in that they also loved animals. And my few days alone in Chiang Mai were wonderful! I went to temples and gardens and ziplining. Everyone in northern Thailand is LOVELY. So friendly and always wanting to teach you. I never felt unsafe.

    The next year, I went to Buenos Aires one night ahead of my friend joining me. I had a very elaborate seven course meal with wine pairing at a lovely restaurant called iLatina by myself – in a restaurant that was mostly couples. I honestly did feel a bit awkward. But I also got to really focus on the food and the wine, and because of that, it is one of the absolute best meals I’ve ever had in my life.

    After my friend joined, we went to Iguazu Falls and Rio together, but she left a few days before me. Thus, I was in Rio alone for a few days. While I did enjoy being able to decide what I wanted to do when, Rio is not the best place to travel alone as a woman. I was actually pretty scared to walk around by myself because the men there will hit on you aggressively, the language barrier there is huge, and some parts of the city are still unsafe – especially at night.

    Overall, would DEFINITELY recommend traveling alone. Just maybe not anywhere you would feel unsafe. A heavily populated and generally safe city like Paris. Or New York (where I live and have never felt unsafe). Also I strongly recommend Chiang Mai :-)

  39. Jessie says...

    Two weeks after my 25th birthday (in 2 weeks), I am headed on my first ever solo trip to Iceland. I have overplanned to the max, because I love overplanning, and it’s not bothering anyone else :). I am staying in an all female hostel room with the hope of meeting people. Eating is what I was most worried about (I wanted to bring a book, but after reading this, maybe I won’t!). Any tips for a young girl traveling solo for the first time?

    Loved this post. Thanks so much. Amazing content as per usual Cup of Jo!

    • CoCo says...

      I spent 3 months in Puerto Rico alone after my Spaniard boyfriend dumped me the day before we were supposed to leave. I loved it so much that I then planned a month long backpacking trip through Argentina. I also stayed at hostels and met TONS of people that way. It ignited a love of hostels in me and I continue to enjoy them even now that I am in my 30s and married (we typically now book the ensuite private rooms vs. the dorms). I digress, back to your book question. I kept a travel journal and I would record my day and thoughts in the journal each night while I ate dinner. It was a very comforting ritual for me and I’m not even the journaling type. It was a way to make myself less hyper aware that I was eating alone yet never stopped anyone from approaching me to make small talk. It was a great way for most people to start a convo with me “what is it that you are smiling about while you write?, etc). The best part is that 5+ years later I am able to read through my journals and relive those trips!

    • Julie says...

      You’re going to have a great time! I haven’t done Iceland but I hear the people are very friendly, When I travel I journal sometimes I’d bring a journal to meals. But trust that eating alone is like anything, it takes practice. One of my favorite things is people watching and inventing stories about the couples or groups I’m watching. Other tip: sit at the bar. At smaller places you meet owners or managers and get the best recommendations, Also, watching everyone else fills up the time.

      I’m an over planner too, but don’t be afraid to just sit and relax. I find every few days if I’ve pushed myself I’m just tired and I don’t force my activities. It’s very freeing to get to ask yourself all day: what do I want right now? And you get to do that thing! Good luck and best wishes on your adventure!!

  40. Amy says...

    I read that post like it was porn…only, uh, in a better way. As a 30 year old mom (and wife) of 2 young kids, the entire post gripped me. I travelled with one friend over 7 years ago now to England, France and Italy and this really brought me back. But to wander a city like Paris alone, wow! I would love to do this, and if I got lonely, oh well, it’s only a week!

  41. Gabriella says...

    I’d love to travel alone! Though at this point it’s a question of opportunity cost–would I rather use my vacation time and money to go by myself? Or with friends/family? My parents met on a trip where my mom was traveling by herself through Africa, so it’s always seemed romantic to me–as well as a good chance to just be with yourself.

  42. Maureen says...

    Jo, this is so timely! I’m leaving at the end of the month for a solo Europe trip that I’m tacking onto a visit to Germany for a friend’s wedding. I’m excited to travel on my own terms…strolling through back alleys, lingering in museums, ducking into cafes…thanks for sharing this interview and quelling some of my fears!

  43. bridget says...

    Great article! I am not a twin, but the middle of 5 kids (4 girls) so I always had a buddy around growing up. When I turned 18 I went backpacking to Europe alone for 3 months. It was amazing and I learned so much about myself. I arrived in Paris…

  44. Jessica C says...

    The best thing in my life have been my solo trips. When I lived in Australia, I took weekend trips by myself and stayed in Airbnbs. Often I would stay with a cool couple and get to hang with them for the weekend – they would often invite me to dinner or to join a friend’s party they were going to. I’ve also gone on surf retreats in Nicaragua and Costa Rica alone. I feel sad for those who don’t know how to enjoy their own company!

  45. Joleen says...

    I took a “babymoon” by myself to Tulum. I knew that it would be a long time before I had time by myself after having my baby. It was so lovely! I slept in, read on the beach, took long walks, went to some yoga classes and generally did whatever I wanted! I’m so glad that I did it. I was ready to come home (and my partner was ready too– he was a little worried about me being pregnant and on my own). And now, with a 9 month old, I look back on that time so fondly (sleep!!). I highly recommend a solo babymoon!

  46. Dawn says...

    When I used to tag along with my husband on his US and international work trips, there were lots of days where I would be left alone to my own devices. I’m a natural introvert, so I would sometimes have to pump myself up to get brave to navigate things like a new subway system and asking people for directions. I actually love traveling with (selected) others, but traveling solo is so empowering and you see/do/meet people you wouldn’t have otherwise if you were in a group. As a bonus, I was sometimes mistaken as a local in Stockholm and Paris, which I’m sure wouldn’t have happened if I were with a group. So, a resounding ‘yes!’ for solo traveling from this girl! :)

  47. Kristin says...

    I love this!
    I have actually recently given notice at my current job the US and will be living abroad for 3 months in Italy as an au pair! While I will be working during the week, I will have plenty of free time, and I am excited for some solo weekend trips throughout the country. The change is making me anxious, but reading this makes me excited about all the possibilities.

  48. Clara says...

    One of my favorite posts ever! I so enjoyed reading this, and the thought of travelling alone makes me tear up for the possibilities! I became a mother young, and I think a solo trip at 30 (two years from now) would be very good for me!

    • Kate says...

      Thanks, Clara! I hope you take that solo trip at 30; it was such a wonderful way to usher in the new decade.

  49. I adore this!! As a dongle childless gal, I used to travel to NYC alone each year for my birthday! These days it’s rare I’m traveling without 2 kids and all that comes with them! This summer my fiancé and I are getting married in Paris and staying there with the kids for a month!! I loved reading this, reminding me of the adventures in Paris we have to look forward too!! Even with kids :)

    Xoxo http://www.touchofcurl.com

  50. Tamsin says...

    I went to NYC on my own (from London) when I was 29. I loved it! I was single and didn’t think I would enjoy going with a friend as I would have to compromise on what to do and probably spend more money than I wanted to! I found it exhausting though as I walked so much, so I didn’t go out for dinner much, just had subway in my room most nights watching American telly! The Oscars was on one evening which was great!

  51. Anna says...

    I’m so impressed and inspired with Kate’s experience (and her photos, and her amazing shoes). I spent a solo weekend in Paris in my early-mid 20s and was surprised by how it was both fantastically liberating and a little lonely. I like to think I’d be better at it now, 15 years later. Being able to be comfortable alone with yourself is one of the great life skills that sometimes just has to be learned! Thanks, Kate, for sharing your wonderful story, and happy birthday!

    • Kate says...

      Thanks, Anna! It was a wonderful trip, and I’m so happy to be able to share it.

  52. Kellie P. says...

    I wish I had the balls to do something like this!

  53. My twin sister (24) recently went on a long weekend trip to London by herself. She needed a breather from work and had studied abroad there in college, so it was a nice getaway from NYC.

    Our parents always told us that it’s important to realize there’s a difference between being alone and being lonely. They are not one and the same. For one weekend, she just enjoyed relying on only herself to find joy, happiness, and adventure. It was the best weekend she had all year. She totally inspired me and I can’t wait to do it myself!

  54. Erika says...

    I loved this post. As a fellow twin Joanna, I am usually pretty bad at doing things solo, I think I do better with a partner in crime but this story was inspirational and as I get older I think I would enjoy some solo time, especially since I spend my days working and taking care of two little boys! Thank you for this great post.

  55. Jenny says...

    I live in London (but previously Edinburgh) and every year for the past 5 I’ve done a weekend away on my own- no one else’s agenda or time scale- Paris/London/Amsterdam/Hamburg/New York/ Heidelberg&munich. It’s the best thing you can do for yourself. I adore it- I entertain people all the time so it’s nice to unplug… Everyone should.

  56. Cortney says...

    I love this! I am single and am probably the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. I love doing things alone. I’ve truly never had as much fun with anyone as I have with myself. Why wait for someone else to see and do the things you want? And a solo trip to Paris is on my list for sure!

  57. Anna says...

    I agree that travelling alone is a delight. I’ve done it many times, enjoy it immensely and find myself meeting interesting people. Especially memorable was a solo trip to Positano after my friend’s wedding in Northern Italy — everyone was warm and friendly. I took a trip to Paris a couple of months after I broke up with a boyfriend. My friend met me after a few days [which was great] but I don’t think my state of mind was right for being alone in a city surrounded by couples on romantic vacation. Now that I’m married I still take solo trips but for shorter periods of time, though my in-laws get suspicious and think there’s something amiss with the relationship.

    A question for the rest of you: do you feel like there are people who side-eye women travelling alone? I’ve gotten strange reactions here and there, mainly from hotel employees and such. This past summer I had a few weeks off before starting a new job. I went to a resort-type place on Lake Champlain — my husband had to work and didn’t join me. I had a wonderful time but people asked me odd questions about my motivation for being there alone – other guests were mostly families. I reckon this is more of a rural vs. urban phenomenon.

    • I think no matter what situation you are in people will side eye you! If you are alone or with kids. You could always say you are on Sabbatical.

  58. I did a solo trip to Paris, London, and Amsterdam for my 30th birthday. I was also in the beginning process of a divorce. I thought it would be so scary to go alone and yet I was maybe the least scared I have every felt in my life. I just felt like enough. It was quite freeing to do things without the judgment or opinion of another person. Like buying 3 pairs of shoes, then eating cookies for lunch, and then a pizza and pichet of wine for dinner and going to bed at 9:30.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I love that, Amber.

  59. Wow! What a great trip! I wish I did some solo travelling before kids. What a great way to really get to know yourself. Great post! The comments are really fun to read.

  60. I love this! Great read. And I have to say, I do think Paris is a beyond-perfect place to choose for this kind of enriching, introspective solo-journey :) Rome would be up there, too.

  61. Sonya says...

    Traveling alone is liberating. I’ve done it many times domestically and last summer I took my first solo international trip – a week in Iceland. How did I like it? Well, exactly one week from today I’m headed to Warsaw, Riga, and Vilnius by myself. I’m turning 35 next month, I highly recommend a solo trip at least once but once you go, you will want to keep doing it.

  62. I traveled solo for many years, especially after I first moved to Europe, when I took a trip 50 weekends in one year. I sometimes was greeted with disdain at restaurants. One in Rouen stuck my in a corner next to the kitchen, as if to hide my single femaleness. But the food was fabulous, and I must have made faces of ecstasy, because soon all the staff was gathered around my table, telling me about how the dishes were prepared. On the other hand, in Copenhagen and Thessaloniki, there were restaurants that outright refused to seat me, even though they were far from busy and took couples who walked (i.e., those empty tables weren’t reserved) in while I was wheedling for a table.
    At the Picasso Museum, I noticed a woman in rapture before a painting. I was touched by how touched she seemed to be by the art. Then a guy came in and said, “You’re STILL here? Hurry up!” And I was very glad to be single.
    I made friends on the overnight train in Kenya, where my bunkmates were two divorced Kenyan businesswomen and we had a great talk about everything imaginable. You don’t make those kinds of connections when you are with a group or even with one other person.
    When I got married, it was fun in a different way, to show him places I loved and to discover places he loved.

    • Katherine says...

      These are great memories! Thanks for sharing.

  63. Theresa says...

    I love to travel alone and have taken many trips alone to Costa Rica, Spain, England and other places. It has been the best and most empowering experience to navigate countries by myself. I even went through a crazy earthquake when I was in Costa Rica and felt like if I could get through that, the world is my oyster! I’m married, with a 2 year old now, and my husband and I often talk about doing a vacation each solo. He has traveled extensively on his own. I know we will teach our daughter to do the same. If you haven’t done it…do it!

  64. Amanda says...

    I LOVE solo traveling. These days, with my limited funds, I prioritize family visits and travel with my partner. But in the past I really enjoyed traveling on my own…wandering, reading, writing. I hope to do it again in the future. I’ve also done sort of hybrid vacations, like when I visited a friend in Seattle. I was on my own during the days she was at work, we hung out at night and I also took a side trip by myself to Portland. It was a nice mix of catching up with someone I love but also having space to breathe, dream, and explore on my own.

  65. Suzanne says...

    I have done a month solo in Europe, and two two-week stints in Malaysia and Vietnam respectively. I agree so much with the author that there is such a sense of independence and great self-introspection. Plus, very freeing to get to do what you want, when you want. All of my trips were taken when I was single–except the trip to Vietnam when I had been dating my now-boyfriend of two years for three weeks. I often think now if I will continue to do some big trips even though I have a partner (he doesn’t love travel as much as I do). This is inspiring me to do a week in Paris alone–seems like paradise! I also think I’m going to take your advice about having one day of vacation alone and meeting up with your partner for dinner…

  66. Rachel says...

    How fitting that I I’m reading this on day 3 of a 4 day solo trip. I’ve finally settled into a lovely timelessness. I wake when I want, I eat when I feel hungry, I feel more in my body than I have in months. My solo trip is different in that I only drove 70 miles away to a small resort town to rest and “take the waters.” I’m also 49 with tween twin sons, a badly-trained dog and a spouse of 20 years so to be alone and on my own schedule without any responsibilities is a strange and wonderful luxury. It was disconcerting at first but several days in I can report that it’s deeply restorative and grounding.

    • Anna says...

      Good for you!! Enjoy it.

  67. Isabelle says...

    I would never travel alone if I had the choice to travel with another/others. And you’d think b/c I’m an only child I would be more open to flying solo, but it kind of bums me out to even consider the idea. With that said, to each their own…

  68. Emily R says...

    I’m amazed at single travelers! I don’t mind being by myself, and am alone rather frequently – that being said, I know I’d be a horrible single traveler. Riding my bike by someone sitting by an outdoor cafe – I’d immediately wish I had someone to share it with. Eat something delicious – who do I tell? I struggle with depression and I know this would just be too hard for me.

  69. RBK says...

    Beautiful photo’s!
    And lovely and honest interview .

  70. Love this! What I want to know is how she got strangers to take cute photos of her?!?!?! I always seem to pick the worst photographers on the street…ha!

    • Kate says...

      Ha! Look for the teenagers. They know the in’s and out’s of the perfect iPhone shot.

  71. This has to be one of my favourite posts! I actually went with my mum for my 30th, which was amazing, but I’ve always wanted to spend a week alone in Paris. Thanks for sharing you experience Kate.

    http://www.cocktailsaturdays.com

  72. Casey says...

    I moved from Mississippi to Abu Dhabi by myself three years ago, and since then have traveled solo many times. I love it! I feel like I’ve learned so much about myself and have become incredibly independent. When I travel with someone, I find that I’m less likely to meet locals because I already have someone to talk to. I also love being able to make my own schedule. I can get up early and have a busy day, or sleep in then sit in a cafe and read for hours. The freedom is wonderful.

  73. Claire says...

    I spent a week alone in Iceland at the start of my gal year when I was 18. I stayed in a hostel, met cool people to walk around Reykjavik and go on tours with, and when I felt like being alone, I was. My week alone was the most empowering experience if my life and I’m so glad I did it at a young age so I could live the rest of my lifetime knowing that I’m fully capable (and happy) being all on my own.

    • Claire says...

      *gap year

  74. I absolutely loved this. It would be a dream of mine to do that, even though I’m not very brave and would be scared to! But I loved seeing it through someone else’s eyes, thank you for sharing it.

  75. Erin Mary says...

    I’m taking my first solo vacation this summer! I’m going to Iceland and I can’t wait to just wander around, meet new people, and try to navigate a completely new place all by myself :)

  76. Sounds delightful! I’ve always wanted to go to Paris but I’m too scared of going by myself. Just this week I met someone who said they’re traveling to Europe alone, as I listened enviously. And now, a couple days before my own birthday, I stumble across this! I think I love The Alchemist too much to not see these coincidences as signs from the universe (or in reality I’m looking for reasons to splurge on myself). Either way, I enjoyed this piece! Thank you for sharing.

  77. Emmanuella says...

    I did this a lot in my twenties and never thought twice about it. It’s so enjoyable to hear someone else put words to the elegance and freedom of traveling solo. The part about micro-decisions and macro conversations with yourself- brava! Well written. Thank for this :)

  78. I would absolutely travel by myself – it is one of the things I daydream about. Where will I go? What will I do? For how long? Where to stay? What to Eat? I am planning to visit Charleston, SC later this year as a present to myself for seeing both children out of high school and onto college successfully!

  79. Carmen B says...

    I’m single so I have traveled alone and will probably continue doing so. I feel I’d miss out on more by traveling with others.
    A couple of years ago I took a quick solo trip to Cabo and ended up making friends with other solo travelers at my hotel. It was a great experience.
    I want to take myself to Europe in the near future.

  80. Kelcey says...

    I worked on a cruise ship as a photographer right after I graduated from college– it was a great way to blend group travel with lots of opportunities to explore solo. One day I’d go out with a big group of crew friends, the next I’d have lunch alone after finishing my morning’s work, and spend the afternoon slowly exploring on my own time. It was the best!

  81. Tyler says...

    I would LOVE to travel alone, but I fear the suggestion would hurt my husband’s feelings. I also don’t think I could do a week alone – I would get TOO lonely! Three days by myself in Paris sounds like absolute heaven though.

    • Amulya says...

      This past December, I travelled to Colombia alone and a few days later my husband joined me. It was a nice compromise— I got the experience of being alone and we also got to explore together.

  82. I love solo trips because you are traveling at your own pace. The only drawback (for me) is that I get completely homesick when I am away from my 2 y/o daughter and my husband for more than a few days. :(

  83. Talia says...

    How wonderful and a great way to celebrate a birthday!

  84. Jules says...

    What a great post! Also, I see that Chernow in her suitcase! Such an amazing biography of Alexander Hamilton. #yayhamlet

  85. Tis says...

    Oh yeah!! I used to think I didn’t love anyone in my life enough to travel with them. Then, as I watched life-long friendships fall apart on the backpack circuit, I realized I loved everyone in my life too much to travel with them. lol
    When I turned 30, I spent three months alone in a hammock in Thailand. Among other things, I wrote my autobiography! Just recorded memories from the very first thing I could remember right up to the local guy in the hammock beside me. :)

  86. Christie says...

    It’s interesting to read this, because I’ve spent most of my 20s living and travelling alone in Europe, and have come to find travelling in a group a bit irritating. I’m going to be 30 next week, so maybe that will be my new adventure for the decade.

  87. Emily says...

    I did a solo trip to Paris a few years ago, in my late twenties. I met up with a friend in the middle for a few days, but I had about a week alone. It was a very unique experience (not exactly my first time traveling alone, but my longest solo trip). I admit that I occasionally wished I had a partner, for example, when I felt shy about entering a crowded tavern to eat alone (that seems silly now, but the language barrier made me feel vulnerable at times!). But mostly it was really fun and special, and I think I noticed more about the city, and of course had more freedom to follow my whims, than if I’d had a partner. Also, I have a nearly identical photo of my rented bike parked in front of those lush fields surrounding Versailles!

    • Kate says...

      I’m glad you had such a nice Paris experience, too! And Versailles bike rides – the best!

  88. Leticia Centeno says...

    I LOVE traveling by myself! I actually prefer to travel by myself then with anybody else.

    I like to be able to have my own schedule while traveling, choosing where I want to eat… Also, you learn so much about yourself while traveling! And, obvs you can make new friends!

    I actually enjoy doing a lot of things people usually do with others by myself (dinner, movies, music concerts…) I really enjoy my own company.

    I always though I used to do things alone because I did not have a boyfriend but I have one for over a year now and I still enjoy doing things alone just as much as I did before :)

    WOman out there: Go travel alone! It will be so awesome!

  89. Cooper says...

    I traveled solo through Western Europe in my mid-twenties, and I totally agree with Kate – it makes you feel really brave! I did feel really lonely much of the trip (but not paralyzingly so), I think because I trekked through six different cities (in six different countries) in ten days, so I was perpetually adapting. My three tips to add to Kate’s advice would be:

    1) RENT AUDIO TOUR HEADSETS at the museums. Having a friendly (English-speaking) voice in my ear as I browsed the galleries was so comforting (not to mention educational). The Louvre especially has a great series of audio tours, including one that gives you detailed directions to the museum’s highlights.

    2) JOURNAL – because you don’t have a travel companion to share memories with, it’s helpful to have written memories so that you can reminisce in the future. (Personally, I was a little too lonely / busy to write during the trip, but I spent the entire plane ride home describing everything I did while the memories were fresh).

    3) READ BOOKS SET IN THE PLACE YOU’RE VISITING – I serendipitously picked up a novel in the airport bookstore that was set in London – reading about characters who were in the same place made me feel less lonely and it was so fun to read about sites as I was visiting them.

    If you can’t find a travel companion, or would prefer to travel alone, I’d wholeheartedly recommend solo travel, but I also think it’s equally enjoyable to travel with a friend or loved one and to take some short time alone (like Joanna recommends!)

  90. Sally Marvin says...

    I am a huge fan of the solo trip which I did a lot of in my 20s and now not-so-much. If you can’t spend a week in a foreign country try this experiment, I suggest dinner at the bar at a local restaurant. And take the tip from Kate: no book, no magazine, no scrolling through phone. Opens the door to meeting new people and the escape hatch is the check! Love this Kate, Thank you Joanna, for asking Kate to keep this photo journal!

    • Kate says...

      Thanks, Sally!

  91. Jen Vercelli says...

    Absolutely! I’ve traveled solo many times and love it. I usually end up exploring a place and then takes friends back with me later. Lately though, when planning trips, I have to force myself to invite others..I just love the freedom I feel traveling solo. It’s addictive.

  92. Solo travel is the best! I learned so much about myself backpacking solo in my 20’s. Now as a married 30 something lady, I still make time to travel solo when I can. My job as a photographer is much more flexible then my husbands, so if I have the time I grab the ticket (hurray travel hacking!) and go! It’s so freeing and good for the spirit. :-) My husband knew I was a travel addict going in, so he’s happy to see me doing what makes me happy, and we travel together when he has the time as well.

  93. Kat says...

    I went to Paris alone in March for my 40th. Best decision EVER. It was a meaningful trip and really allowed me to disconnect and be present. And the first time in a LONG time that I felt free.

  94. Brittany says...

    I kind of accidentally did this- I had a travel grant in Nova Scotia for a week and my husband could not take off the time to come. Traveling alone, especially in another country, definitely makes you grow as a person.

  95. Erin says...

    Just did this EXACT same thing – except for my 40th. It was grand. :) Paris is a lovely place to treat yourself to (and kick off a new decade!).

  96. I traveled through Europe alone in my 20’s – no cell phone, no internet, no itinerary even. Just a backpack and a copy of Let’s Go Europe. It was so much fun and really empowering. I met lots of great people, all traveling alone too. One girl was on a 2 month trip around the world! Now that is brave.

  97. Caroline says...

    I graduated college last May and traveled for a month in Europe alone. I didn’t really think much of it, when I bought my ticket I had been dating someone for 2 months, which seemed too early to consider inviting him. My other friends couldn’t take that much time off work or couldn’t afford it. I did get lonely around 3 weeks and was ready to go home, but I don’t regret it. It was probably the only time in my life I will have that I didn’t have work or school for an entire month!

  98. Laura says...

    Haha – currently in Amsterdam to see the tulip fields – a gift for my 60th birthday and am completely solo! Exhilarating, scary, and challenging , I am so pleased with myself and the things I have learned on this trip. I even took a bread making class in Dutch! This a must for every person at least once in their lifetime

  99. I LOVE traveling by my lonesome. it’s such an intimate time with myself, honing in on who I am and who I want to be.

    I have a wedding to attend in Italy this summer and I’m actually going to Paris for ONE night (I know, I’m bonkers) by myself, because I just have the itch to travel by myself and Paris has been pulling my heart. thank you for the great post!

  100. Karin says...

    I spent a week alone in Paris during Christmas of my year abroad in 2001. I loved part of it, being able to go where I liked when I liked with no schedule but sometimes especially in the evening it would be pretty lonely.
    Of course 15 years , a husband and 2 kids later a week alone traveling sounds amazing, but harder to accomplish. It is back on my bucket list…..

  101. Lauren E. says...

    What a fantastic article. Although I may be the lone wolf here in saying that I don’t enjoy traveling alone. There is always a part of me that wishes someone were there to share it with me, whether it’s a boyfriend or a friend or even a co-worker. And the ironic thing is, I love being alone at home! I’ll go to dinner by myself, movies alone, ballets and shows alone, love a lazy Saturday to myself. But somehow traveling just doesn’t feel as special to me if I’m the only one experiencing it.

    • J.D says...

      I’m the exact same way Lauren! While I enjoy alone time in my everyday life, I would widely dislike traveling alone. As Christopher McCandless said: “Happiness only real when shared” ;-)

  102. Veronica Hohenstein says...

    This kind of trip sounds dreamy and very empowering. My good friend of Generic Dreams (http://genericdreams.com/) is a digital nomad and travels a lone quite often. Her blog is really insightful if you’re interested in solo type adventures.

  103. Angela J. says...

    I actually just returned from a week in Alaska by myself. I knew no one and had never been. Just rented a car and drove around to a few different cities throughout the state that I wanted to check out. I think every woman should 1) live in a big city by herself at some point in her life and 2) travel alone to somewhere she’s never been.
    Was I very scared all alone at night in my secluded cabin in the woods? Yes. Did I survive just fine and feel like kind of a bad ass the next morning? Also, yes.
    Additionally, I learned that you really can fit everything you need for a week into one carry-on! Life lessons, ladies!

  104. nohatnogloves says...

    I wouldn’t mind trying this. Say, in Rome. That way I wouldn’t ever have to compromise about what I wanted to see or where I wanted to go. In 2002 I left the family behind and travelled to China alone (in a large organised group, but all strangers to me) to do an ultramarathon. It was surprisingly fine.

  105. Kate says...

    Thanks for sharing this – I too treated myself to a solo trip for my 30th birthday. I was in Stockholm, but my experiences were similar. It’s good to know you’re in good company, even by yourself. This was not my first trip alone, either – when I began I traveled alone because I never could get friends to commit (or could afford) to travel with me, but now I have come to prefer it because I can do as much or as little as I’d like. If I waited for someone to join me before heading out, I would have missed out on so many beautiful places and experiences.

    I know you likely didn’t intend for it, but I always read these post titles with more drama: Would You (GASP) Travel Alone? or Would You (GASP) Wear a One-Piece Swimsuit?? It insinuates somehow that deviating from some norm is somehow sad or shocking – for those of us who dwell permanently in that space its hard to imagine why the majority would find it shocking, but I’m glad the actual content painted a different picture or traveling alone. I love this blog, but felt a little feedback was warranted.

    • Anne says...

      This is so interesting, because my take is totally different. When I read the posts with a title ending in a question mark, I feel like Joanna — and her contributing staff — are authentically interested in reader response and initiating a conversation. While I’ve come here daily for the content for years, increasingly I find myself reading through the comments section because I learn from other readers and their perspectives. I feel like one of the great strengths of this blog is not only its authentic voice, but the feeling of community and genuine interest. I think of the question titles as a way to increase engagement and incite comments, not to make a judgment on something being risqué (or not)!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much for your note, kate! i always want to elicit conversation and anecdotes from readers —  the comment section is my favorite part of the entire blogging experience. i feel so grateful and lucky to be able to correspond with all these smart and wonderful women.

      here, i was so curious to hear if people have traveled alone before. i personally am really extroverted and don’t like being alone very much (which i’m actually working on, i wish i were better at it! my thoughts can go to dark places when i’m alone). i think it is AWESOME and my friend sharon travels alone every year and i’m so inspired by her:
      http://cupofjo.com/2012/03/motherhood-mondays-would-you-ever-take-a-vacation-by-yourself/

      so i hope it didn’t come across as something i think is shocking or sad AT ALL. i’m totally into the idea of it and am always so inspired by my friends who do!

    • Z says...

      I read them the same way, and it makes the blog feel limited and sort of provincial, and definitely unrelatable for those of us who are a bit more adventurous (many/most of the readers, judging by the comments).

  106. Kiley says...

    After college my “best” guy friend and I were supposed to do a month long back packing tour in Europe. In the spring he flaked out, but I sent ahead and went. It was exhilarating, a little lonely, and eye-opening since I have 3 sisters, joined a sorority in college and had never really been by myself ofr any period of time. For years afterward I could tell myself, you navigated Europe by your self, you can do this or that or whatever.

  107. Jessica says...

    I love traveling alone. Now that I’m married with kids and family and friends all over the country/world it seems like such a luxury. Vacation time these days is filled with family time/couple time/weddings/or visiting friends. I spent 6 weeks in Southeast asia and it was the best. I found thoughts and insight were so free flowing and I absorbed the place so much more than when I travel with others. I think when you travel with others your relationships and dynamics with them inevitably take up some of your mind but when you’re alone you don’t have to navigate that and so you are free to absorb everything. (Also no one will care if you deliberate over which earrings to get for and hour and then leave and then go back to the same store two more times…)

  108. Cindy says...

    I love solo travel! I traveled alone to Ireland and Norway in 2011 and had an amazing trip. Some of my deepest and most vivid life memories are from those 10 days, probably because that extended solo time makes you very aware of everything, both outside of you but also in your own thought-life. I loved it.

    Tip: Every woman traveler should take a pashmina. It’s a blanket, a scarf, support for your lower back in an uncomfortable seat, a drapey and dramatic accessory for when you feel small and want to swish as you walk down the street with your head held high…

  109. Katie says...

    I love traveling alone! Most of my international travel has been done on my own and I’m toying with the idea of doing a dolor road trip through the states this summer… I also love traveling with a friend or partner, but solo travel is, for whateve reason, usually the way I go!

  110. Elaine Reddy says...

    In my late 20’s, I made a New Year’s Resolution to do one thing out of my comfort zone each month. I took a ballet class, went to a movie by myself, went to a meal by myself, etc. At the end of the year, I booked a last minute trip to NYC by myself where I dined alone, shopped alone, went to the opera and several museums alone. It was incredible. I love getting to decide the itinerary and doing what I feel like. A year later, I quit my job and went to Europe by myself for several months. It gave me a lot of confidence in myself to go places, and figure things out. I highly recommend solo trips to people if they get the chance.

  111. Jamie says...

    What a great and interesting piece. Her trip looked lovely! I’ve travelled alone a few times (for relatively short stretches), but to be honest, the last time I traveled alone (to Argentina), I found myself pretty bored by the end (nothing about the country, which was great, mostly just being alone for that long). I also tend to be somewhat shy, so should have forced myself to try to meet more locals (and planned more ways to do so). Love her tip about putting the book – down when it’s being used as a crutch and being open!

  112. Happy birthday, Kate. You’re wonderful.

    • Kate says...

      Thanks, Annie!

  113. traveling alone is definitely the best. it’s really made me more comfortable in my own company. now, instead of trying to fill up my weekends, i actually try to keep days open so that i can do exactly what i want on my own time. if i happen to hear from a friend for an impromptu hang, i may do it. but there’s no pressure.

  114. Joslyn says...

    I went solo to Paris for my thirtieth birthday as well, so this post made me so happy. One thing I enjoyed is I went to fancier restaurants for lunch. That way I got a great meal, but I also didn’t have to sit as long by myself. For dinners I enjoyed going to more crowded and less formal restaurants like creperies where I felt surrounded by people and wasn’t so overwhelmed by eating alone. It was one of the best trips I ever took. I got to know the bartenders at the local bar and on the evening of my birthday they closed the bar early and popped a bottle of champagne for me and we danced int he kitchen into the small hours of the morning. It was a birthday I will never forget.

    • Jessica says...

      Joslyn, this is such great advice. I’ve only traveled alone for very brief periods (as in like a day or two at the beginning or end of meeting up with someone), and while I’ve really enjoyed it, meal times are always the most difficult for me to deal with–it’s most likely the moment where I feel lonely or at loose ends. I’d love to hear from more people about how they manage this.

  115. Autumn says...

    This sounds so fun! I wonder if Kate has children? As a mom of 2 little ones, I sometimes daydream of escaping and traveling solo but I just know that the mom guilt will loom over me wherever I go… It happens when I’m out running errands so I can’t imagine traveling on my own for a week -even though I know that my children, husband and I could all benefit from such an experience. Anyone else feel this way?

    • Tessa Needham Synnott says...

      Your comment wasn’t posted yet when I made mine… but yes! I travelled alone a lot before having kids, and I have travelled alone after having them. But after a few days of relishing the quiet time and the ability to do whatever I want to do, I start missing the chaos!

    • Yes. Yes, I do.

    • Claire says...

      Growing up, my mom would take a solo weekend once or twice a year, in addition to flying home once a year for a sibling reunion on her own. Never once did I think it was out of the ordinary, I understood that it was something she needed for herself. Some people love to exercise for an hour by themselves every day or go to a coffee shop, other people just need to travel by themselves! :)

  116. Lindsay says...

    Such perfect timing. I just planned a 3 day weekend for myself in Disney next month! Traveling solo has been on my bucket list for a couple years now and I figured Disney would be a great place to start. It’s safe and has lots to do. The difference in responses to this has been interesting. A lot of people think it’s awesome, but some people think it’s weird, which has kind of bothered me. For some reason people keep assuming there is trouble in my relationship just b/c I am doing something without him (haters gonna hate). Oh well, I plan on having an awesome time doing exactly what I want to do.

  117. Hannah says...

    I spent some time traveling by myself in Europe as well. I was an au pair, and didn’t have any friends on the same schedule as me, and so I went off exploring by myself. Other than day trips, I took solo trips on different occasions to Paris, London, Lagos in Portugal, Barcelona and Sevilla in Spain, and to Amsterdam. They were so rewarding. I couldn’t agree more with what Kate shared! I felt I was really taking everything in and absorbing the culture, and on top of that, I stayed in Airbnb’s with hosts. If I were with a friend normally I would have rented an empty Airbnb. Staying with hosts was amazing because I got to share with locals, and I was invited to partake in activities with them since I was alone; that normally would not have happened if I was with someone else!

    Those experiences are ones I will never forget, they are my personal memories that I really cherish. On top of that it has given me courage to go out on my own if no one else can come with me!

  118. I’ve always travelled solo. I’ve been to the UK and Turkey all by myself, and now I work in the one-man branch of my company in Beijing! I know some people are afraid of not having a travel companion but for me, it means less chances to get annoyed (this is bound to happen when you spend literally 24 hours a day together, for a stretch of days) and more freedom to do anything (I get to decide whether to have a big breakfast or skip breakfast).

    Although sometimes I do wish for someone to make decisions together (should we turn left or right here?), travelling alone has been quite blissful for me so far.

    My trick for killing the occasional loneliness – listen to songs or radio programmes on earphones. It instantly makes me feel I have a companion on the go.

  119. Angela says...

    I first traveled alone when I saw an incredible price for a r/t flight to Peru – too good to pass up and also so soon that no one was available to go with me. I booked a few tours, but spent most of my time wandering. It was scary sometimes, like when I was landing and all the forms were in Spanish. But I always found someone that was able to help me when I needed it. Also, hostels are a great place for meeting people (especially other solo travelers). Most hostels offer single rooms if you prefer your space. I ended up wandering some days with people from my hostel. I did make it a point not to stay out too late though as a solo female.
    A couple years later I booked a trip to New Zealand by myself – a quick 10 day trip. I stayed a hostel again and booked a couple tours so I could interact and meet people when I wanted to. But set aside days to explore by myself.

  120. I love this! I traveled for a month in Japan alone, it was one of the best months of my life. There is a kind of freedom and reflection you can’t get when you have a travel buddy.

  121. Genell says...

    Perfect timing! I’m doing the same thing in June. I plan on only packing a carry on and am so curious; what did she bring?!

    • Kate says...

      Hi Genell — A carry-on worked perfectly! I packed clothes in the same color palette so I could mix and match easily, but the real trick was limiting shoes (I only brought running shoes, Vince sneakers for day, and a pair of low heels for night). Enjoy your trip!

    • Genell says...

      Thanks, Kate!

  122. Absolutely! Before we met, my husband and I each traveled overseas a great deal, much of it on our own – and we now enjoy exploring the world together. These days, I travel frequently for work as well, and love having freedom to explore new places whenever time allows.

  123. Marnie says...

    I solo traveled throughout southern Africa – it was a very different experience than travelling with a friend. Less “touristy” somehow, even though I was doing all the same touristy things! I engaged in long conversations with locals on buses, in restaurants etc. I loved my non-itinerary – I could change plans in a heartbeat if an interesting detour arose. It was liberating – and scary at times- but ultimately incredibly confidence-building.

  124. annie says...

    I debated about traveling alone when I finally could spend the $$ and travel. abroad at 50. I decided instead to use a website to match travelers and did travel with someone I met on a site. It was wonderful. I am still not sure I would travel alone but am intrigued by those that do.

  125. How brave and inspiring! It looks and sounds like such a lovely trip, and I’m sure Kate returned home with beautiful memories she’ll cherish forever.
    http://homegardenlove.com/

  126. Tessa Needham Synnott says...

    I travelled alone a lot before having kids, and twice after having kids. Travelling alone is so different now! What begins as a welcome break actually turns into me missing the chaos, and wishing my family were with me…

  127. Natalie says...

    This is so lovely and inspiring! I’m curious to know if Kate speaks French? I would imagine if I spoke the language of a country I was visiting I would feel much more comfortable and confident, but perhaps the lack of ease in communication would only add to the sense of adventure!

    • Kate says...

      Hi Natalie – No, I don’t speak French, which definitely added to the adventure! I downloaded Fodor’s Travel Phrases app, which was very helpful and learned enough French to start a conversation. Everyone was so friendly and willing to speak English once they realized how limited my French was!

  128. Rachel says...

    I also traveled solo to Paris a few years back – after a break up had me itching to get out of town. It was lovely!

  129. Hannah says...

    I went on a solo trip to Rio, it was the best vacation I ever had! This post makes me want to do it again.

  130. Jan says...

    Good for you! Belated Happy Birthday. I liked reading your thought on taking a book to dine.
    My husband and I were in Paris a year ago at this time, we walked for hours everywhere. We wanted to do the bike thing but were a bit timid about riding around the busy traffic.

    • Kate says...

      Thanks, Jan! I loved walking the streets of Paris. Every street is more beautiful than the next!

  131. Liz says...

    yes! traveling solo is such a joy. I went to Ireland alone a few years ago (though timing it with my 30th would have been better, I had just turned 31) and it was a dream. It’s totally freeing and kind of indulgent to do whatever you want, whenever you want. If I was traveling with friends, I’d hesitate to want to “double back” to neighborhoods or stores I had loved – but being on my own, I allowed myself to do the same thing twice and really feel like I had gotten to “know” Dublin.

    since then, I think of trips in two columns: friend trips (I’m single :) and me trips. I combined the two last summer when I road tripped solo through Maine & Vermont for a week, then two girlfriends flew to Portland to end the trip together. It was perfect!

  132. Maia says...

    I love traveling alone. I go where I want, when I want, and do what I want. It’s the best.

  133. I also took myself to Paris last May and it was actually quite nice. I will say that traveling abroad alone is a little bit different and lonelier than say, taking a trip to New York alone. But, it was worth it just to be able to operate on my own schedule and spent time doing just what I wanted to do.

    Briana
    http://www.youngsophisticate.com

  134. Kathleen says...

    I’ve never taken a trip completely by myself but I did spend two days wandering around Paris by myself while my husband was attending a conference there. My memories of those two days are so peaceful and wonderful. I related to so many things that Kate wrote. I had my Kindle with me and would often stop and sit in one of the beautiful Paris gardens reading my book for a while. I also LOVE going to art museums by myself. It is such a treat (and with three little kids, rarely happens). Not having to consult with someone else about what to do and where to go is really freeing. It also seems wise to have a few scheduled activities that have a social aspect to them, like the cooking class.

  135. I would definitely travel alone. One of my favorite parts of studying abroad was the more defined time of being alone. Finding my own way, making my own decision. I agree everyone should try this at least once.

  136. Suzanne says...

    Oh, this is my idea of heaven. I’ve always wanted to go to Paris alone in drizzly November, actually. Someday when my little one isn’t so little, I’ll do it, I swear. Or maybe I’ll just lie alone on the beach with a big, fat novel and no one to interrupt. But for now, I’ll savor all those interruptions.

  137. I’m planning my first solo trip ever right now! I’m planning on heading to Ireland. There is something less intimidating about knowing that I can easily communicate!

  138. Jessie says...

    Oh I did do this! After traveling through Northern France, Italy, and Croatia for 2 weeks with a friend, I spent the last week in Paris on my own. But this was 10 years ago (in my early 20s) and I didn’t plan everything as well as I would have today. Her trip sounds lovely!

  139. Z says...

    I have traveled alone many times. To Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Thailand, Laos, Norway, Ireland, and Russia. It is not hard to do, actually.

  140. Haylie says...

    Traveling alone is the best! I’m (hopefully!) going to be taking a four-day hike in Iceland this summer for my own 30th! My husband isn’t much of a backpacker, and so the alone time would be great.

  141. Kat says...

    I’m in a pretty new city and don’t yet have a significant social circle, so have gotten more comfortable taking myself out to a nice lunch/happy hour/nightcap at a place I’d like to try. I thought it would make me anxious but it has actually been a nice adventure. I also like stopping myself from just checking my phone or bringing along a book — it is a major crutch.

    “When you have the time and space to figure things out, that’s a huge gift to yourself.”

    This is such a well-put and significant insight. Thank you for sharing your gorgeous trip! (and happy birthday!)

    • Kate says...

      Thanks, Kat! Best of luck settling into your new city; it seems like you’re off to a great start.

  142. Michaela says...

    I love traveling and backpacking alone. I even went on my honeymoon a bit early to have a mini solo trip before my husband met me. It’s totally hot to meet your sweetie at a hotel in a foreign country!

    On my first solo backpacking trip, an ambitious 100 section of the John Muir trail in the CA Sierras, I met this older experienced backpacker who shared that “the best part of a solo backpacking trip is you can do whatever you want.” Yeah! Some days I’d hike a few miles and take a swim. Other days I’d push myself and hike an extra 10 miles. This attitude really struck me and I still think about it years later.

    Go for it!

  143. Kelly says...

    After my semester of study-abroad finished in May 1998, I took a month and “backpacked” with a massive duffle bag of winter clothes around Eastern Europe. I was alone, but made acquaintances at the hostels where I stayed and on the tours I took (spelunking in Hungary!). It was an amazing experience not to be beholden to anyone else’s choices. Highly recommend.

  144. Karen says...

    omg, just the thought of riding solo through the gardens of Versailles on a bike made me tear up! GOOD ON YOU!

    • Kate says...

      Thanks, Karen — it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. A quiet ride through Versailles, surrounded by such history and beauty and nature… it was just perfect.

  145. This makes me wonder if I could do it again. I’m sure traveling alone would be different in my 40’s. When I was in my 20’s I lived in London (1996) and worked at Top Shop in Kingston for 6 months. It was awfully lonely since I did not make any friends there and this was before the internet was a social place. So I would take myself in to the city to see the Pre-Rafaelites at at the Tate Britain, at least once a week. Now when I think of my time alone in England I think of gazing at Waterhouse’s wonderful Lady of Shalott. And when I went back last summer I took my family to see it which was the best part of the trip.

  146. Chrys says...

    very cool and inspirational!

  147. Jackie says...

    Sounds delightful. Good for her! I would definitely go away alone. I studied abroad in college and didn’t know anyone and I think it helped me grow as a person. Especially in confidence.