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Advice from a Woman Traveling Solo

Lessons Learned (Or Reconfirmed) While Traveling Solo

On my morning hike, I had the opportunity to enjoy nature and reflect on my recent solo travels. Friends that know me well, know that I enjoy solitude. I use it to think, nap or simply do whatever I like. Some confuse solitude with loneliness. The difference, in my humble opinion, is that solitude is by choice—there’s a real sense of freedom when I go for a hike, out to dinner or to the movies alone.  

Those who know me well, also know that I’m a social being. Connecting with others one-on-one or in small groups is my thing. I’m a social worker for goodness sake, so I understand the need for us humans to bond, belong and connect with others. In fact, when we don’t have strong, meaningful relationships in our lives it can be harmful to our emotional and physical well-being.  

Woman traveling solo

My Recent Solo Trip

I say all of this because while on my most recent solo trip, more so than others in the past, I picked up that many folks whom I met along the way seemed surprised that I was traveling with myself (as opposed to by myself).  Several cruise staff members asked incredulously, “You’re traveling alone?” 

A lady that I happen to sit across from at dinner was supposed to be on the cruise with her now ex-boyfriend (I know the whole story). She said she hates being alone, and as a result, she brought her sister on the cruise. The two women got into an argument and were no longer speaking.  Her fear of being alone prompted her to invite a sibling with whom she has never gotten along, and there she was,  alone and lonely anyway.  Bless her heart.   

My second day on the cruise a gentleman was flirting with me and asked if he could get to know me better. I told him I was on vacation to relax and just do me.  He said, “you came on the cruise to be alone?” To which I replied, “pretty much.”  He took it in stride and we had several short, but pleasant conversations every time we ran into one another.

woman traveling solo

Advice from a Woman Traving Solo

Upon reflection, here are a few takeaways and tips from my experience for solo travelers:

  1. Do you, and get comfortable with being in your own company. As I told my dinner companion, “If you don’t like your own company, it’s hard to convince others that you’d be fun or interesting to be around.”
  2. Self-care and my mental health matter. Traveling is one of my tried and true self-care methods. Would I like to have a traveling companion(s)? Of course, I would, but friends and family have busy lives and various responsibilities, and budgets and interests that make it difficult to coordinate a trip. So until calendars align, I travel solo.  
  3. Life is short. Research and book the trip, start the vacation calendar countdown, and go! Don’t put off your desires, happiness and love of travel waiting for others.  Adventure is out there and the time is now!
  4. Be open, present and nice. When I lead with these ways of being, it’s as if the universe can feel it and I’m rewarded. These rewards come in the forms of interesting conversations, new ventures, and some calculated risks that remind me that I’m strong, capable, fun, and worthy of relaxation, rejuvenation, and exploits.  
woman traveling solo

I finished a book; had conversations with kind and interesting people from all over the world; ate really well; danced salsa-like with a gentleman in Miami in the middle of the day at the Bayside Marketplace while listening to live music; worked on my tan as I sat poolside in Belize; and was grateful for the opportunity to bask in the warmth of the folks of Belize and Mexico, as well as Eduardo— my delightful room steward from Brazil. 

I don’t know where my solo travels will take me next, but I do know I will start my research soon. I don’t believe life should be lived entirely in one place. Traveling as often and for as long as I’m able is one of my life’s goals.

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Annette Benedetti
Annette Benedetti
Annette is a writer, editor and photographer from Portland, OR. Her work appears in a variety of publications including Bust, Red Tricycle, Motherly and Domino. When she’s away from her desk she can be found teaching women yoga at wilderness retreats, exploring new cities across the states and hiking the trails at Mt. Rainier—one of her favorite places on earth.