4 Solo Travel Myths Debunked
With my backpack as my only companion, I hopped off the plane and wandered the airport looking for the train station.
The signs were completely illegible to me and the languages surrounding me were buzzing in foreign tongues. I was alone in a foreign country.
I took a deep breathe and I said to myself,
“Let’s do this.”
The first time I traveled solo, it was a strange mix of circumstance.
I'd just taken a new job and had an extra week in between the end date of my prior job and the start of the new one. My mom suggested that I do something fun with the unexpected time off. I believe she was thinking more along the lines of a few days in nearby San Diego or maybe a quick trip to visit some relatives.
With some research, I booked a ticket leaving later that week to my grandmother’s homeland; Germany and Austria. This definitely wasn’t what my mom had in mind, but I knew I couldn’t let the chance pass me by.
With such short notice and friends that were working at the time, I knew it would have to be my first solo trip - whether I was ready or not.
And it surely wasn't my last.
I have traveled to 13 countries on my own and counting. I am a true advocate for traveling solo and remind friends and family of the benefits.
When I fill family in on my newest traveling plans, I am reminded of all the misconceptions of solo travel.
“It is so unsafe to travel all by yourself...especially as a girl!”
“Who will you hang out with? Won’t it get lonely?”
“Can’t it wait until you have a spouse or boyfriend to go with?”
“You won’t have anyone to share your experiences with!”
So whether you are a nay-sayer or just a little timid to buy your first solo ticket, I will debunk these four myths of solo traveling to help you join the bad-ass club of solo nomads.
Myth #1: It is unsafe to travel all by yourself
My family and I debate this all the time.
Although they have pulled up the data on female travel risks vs. male travel risks to prove their point, I think the main topic of conversation here should be about common sense. Surely, terrible things can happen while traveling solo (just as they can happen while traveling in a group!), but being prepared and using common sense is more of a necessity.
When traveling solo in Rio de Janeiro, I wasn't in a favela at night waving money around and yelling in English. I was checking directions before I left my hostel, tucking my phone in a secure pocket, only bringing enough money that I needed for that day, and staying in crowded, well lit areas.
It is important to be aware of your surroundings and not stray into unsafe situations. Just be smart and take precautions!
Myth #2: You'll get lonely
It not like you can’t talk or interact with people while traveling solo.
Sure, it takes a little extra effort, but I rarely feel a tinge of loneliness while on the road. There are other solo travelers on the road eager to meet people like you!
Traveling by yourself forces you the opportunity to meet travelers and locals. It is a scary feeling to trust new friends, but the kindness on the road never ceases to amaze me.
The first friend I made while solo traveling complimented my “Love Your Melon” beanie at our hostel. I thanked her and we went our separate ways.
After getting myself turned around in the windy streets of Salzburg, we found each other at a random intersection, both trying to find our way to the castle. We ended up touring Salzburg together the rest of the day, met up in Vienna later in our travels and even reconnected years later in Los Angeles!
I have friends all over the world and we share fond memories and the bond of travel.
Myth #3: Wait until you have a spouse or boyfriend to go with
Of course, it would be nice to have a forever adventure buddy, but some of us aren’t that lucky.
And even if I was, can’t a girl get some time to herself? I don’t like the idea of waiting for someone or something in order to live out my dreams or fulfill my passions.
I am in the stage of life where most of my Instagram and Facebook feeds are overflowing with engagement announcements, wedding photos, and baby bumps...which, is awesome! However, I decided on a less traditional lifestyle for the time being; chasing destinations, not boys. I am exploring new experiences, not love.
Surely you can have both (and I hope to someday too), but using the lack of a significant other as a reason to not travel is not going to work for me!
Plus, you never know what cute locals you might find!
Myth #4: You won’t have anyone to share your experiences with
There is a good point made here...
When you travel, most people would want close family or friends to experience it with them, so there is a bond associated with it. However, I argue that there is a similar bond created when you solo travel, just that this bond is with strangers.
However, that doesn’t take away from the amazing experience we shared. I will always think fondly of them and know that we have a bond forever.
It challenges you to live in the moment and not worry about the future storytelling. Friends come and go and significant others stay and leave, but those people surrounding me as we overlooked Machu Picchu, will be in my memories forever.
Human connection is everything while traveling, but I believe that it is powerful to experience it with your present surroundings.
So, you ready to ditch your friends and travel the world?!
Remember: when you hop off that plane, just take a deep breath and say to yourself, “Let’s do this.”
Then, do it.