In praise of solo travel - Travelling Homebody

Why solo travel?

In praise of solo travel

I travelled overseas for the very first time on my own — at the ripe old age of 47.  It was just me, myself and I. I was nervous and afraid — and daunted and overwhelmed. I had to travel on my own, because I had no choice. My friends either weren’t available or couldn’t afford it. And if I didn’t go on my own, well, I’d still be sitting at home on my couch waiting for someone to travel with.

Now I can’t imagine travelling any other way. I have done two trips with other people — most recently to Myanmar — and for the most part, didn’t enjoy it. I found that I couldn’t do what I wanted when I wanted, and I craved more alone time than I got.

Paddling my own canoe

I like the fact that I am responsible for all the decisions when I travel solo. I decide when to go, how to get there, where to stay and what to do. I just book my flights and accommodation and go. I don’t have to compromise on anything. If I want to spend a day sightseeing, I can. If I want to spend a day by the pool, I can. I don’t need to justify what I do to anyone. It’s empowering and freeing. And exhilarating.

I paddle my own canoe, in my own time, in my own way. And if the water gets rough — which it has at times — I sort it out. In China — my second ever trip abroad — I was stranded at Shanghai Airport without airline support (and explains why I NEVER fly Qantas) and had to figure out what to do. I got bumped from an overbooked flight in Delhi. My flights out of Bali were cancelled because of volcanic ash and I had to scramble for days to try and rebook.

No, I don’t get lonely

The number one question I am asked about my solo travel is: don’t you get lonely? And I can state categorically: absolutely not. When you travel on your own, you are more likely to engage with other people. And I meet people all the time. If I’d been travelling with someone else, I would never have had a fling in Bali. If you are travel with others you are more likely to stick with only them, because it’s easy.

I book myself on tours, so I meet people. I talk to people at the swimming pool. In queues. On public transport. In museums. The only time I have ever craved company was in Japan, but that’s cultural. The Japanese are not an outgoing race — which explains why, out of know where, a white guy was keen to chat to me in the subway in Kyoto. I would hazard a guess that he was craving company, too.

It’s not really brave

The other thing people say to me is: you’re so brave. I could never travel on my own like you! That’s not true. You could, you just don’t want to. Believe me, there is nothing brave about getting on a plane in one country and getting off aforementioned plane in another. Firefighters are brave. Khaleesi and Jon Snow are brave. I’m just a regular girl who is curious about the world. Curiosity does not equal bravery.

Having said that, I don’t put myself in hazardous situations. Invariably, I arrange an airport transfer so I don’t have to work out how to get to the hotel — if the hotel doesn’t provide shuttle or other transport. I’m not out late at night, drinking and dancing. I’m careful about my accommodation and in which neighbourhood I stay. I wouldn’t go to certain countries because of the personal risk — I value my life (I’m looking at you, America!).

Go on, you know you want to!

For those of you who know the joys of solo travel, you need no convincing. But for those who have never travelled solo and still need to be persuaded, read my article 4 reasons women should travel solo.

It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.


4 Comments

  • Martin Jacobs May 25, 2018 at 6:05 pm

    Nice article Diane, a lot of things in life are best done alone or with only one other.

    Reply
    • Diane Lee May 26, 2018 at 3:10 pm

      Thank you, Martin — and you are right!

      Reply
  • Rhiannon May 26, 2018 at 11:25 am

    100% share your sentiments on all of the above! People often ask if I get lonely when I travel solo but the answer is no, simply because I’m my own biggest fan and never tire of my own company haha!
    I travelled solo for the first time at 18 and, although I agree in that it’s definitely not “brave” to travel alone, I well and truly take my hat off to you for taking the plunge at 47!

    Reply
    • Diane Lee May 26, 2018 at 3:12 pm

      Thank you, Rhiannon! I envy you having started your travels to early… I often wonder where I would have ended up, or what adventures I would have had if I started travelling in my teens or twenties. Enjoy the journey, my dear <3

      Reply

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