I have never understood the reactions I get when people learn that I travel on my own! People are either too flabbergasted to react at all other than maybe “Really? You travel alone?!?”. Or they come up with the mind-blowing statements, “Wow, you travel alone, you’re so brave?!?” and the “Oh, I could never do that, I wouldn’t like it”, even though they have never tried it. Then there is the unavoidable “Don’t you get lonely?!?” or “Don’t you miss sharing special moments and memories with someone?!?”. Don’t forget the “But how do you do it? How do you know where to go and what to do?!?”. Apparently that changes when you travel alone compared to with someone else. And of course, there are always the few condemning ones stating “You travel alone?!? WHY?!?”.
I just don’t get it. So, I decided to devote a blog post to why I travel alone. I mean, is it really that brave to travel on my own? Apparently many of you feel that way. Well, I don’t!
First of all, being single, I have basically four options
I don’t go on a holiday!
Wait, that’s just not an option for me. I love traveling, discovering beautiful nature, awesome cities and amazing cultures, and meeting new people. But that’s a whole different blog post. So, let’s start again.
First of all, being single, I have basically three options when I want to travel
- Travel with friends
- Travel with an organised group tour
- Travel on my own
Of course, I like to travel with friends!
However, being 33 and single with mostly very non-single friends, often that’s just not an option. Most of my friends simply don’t have the time to go traveling with me. And seriously, can you blame them? They are all very tight up in a relationship, a lot of them even with children.
I’m sure many of my friends wouldn’t mind going away with me for a few days. But let’s face it, everybody wants to do some serious traveling every now and then. And with serious, I’m talking weeks instead of days. Time my friends want to spend with their family, which makes perfect sense to me.
And let’s be honest. Don’t you just hate the whole planning phase when traveling with a group of friends? First, all the agendas have to be matched to find the perfect date for the trip. Then, the whole ordeal of agreeing on the destination starts. When you finally get to your destination, everybody wants to do something else. Traveling with friends, it can be a hassle at times. Awesome for a couple of days. But for longer, well….what can I say…I like traveling on my own.
The lovely thing about traveling on your own is:
- You get to go when it suits you.
- You get to stay as long as it suits you.
- No arguing about what you want to do and when.
Why wouldn’t you want to travel alone?
Organised group tours: the good, the bad and the ugly
I have tried it a couple of times. Six years ago, I went on a group tour to Morocco. Beautiful country! I can recommend it to anyone. The nature ranging from desert to sea, from mountains to gorges filled with palm trees and more. Very friendly people, a lovely climate and beautiful old cities! I must admit, I would definitely have seen less of it, had I traveled on my own.
When traveling with a group tour, you don’t have to worry about where to sleep, how to travel and where to eat. However, there were places I would have loved to stay longer in Morocco, like the lovely blue city of Chefchaouen and the beautiful gorges of the Todra and the Dades with their palm tree plantations. Others I wouldn’t have mind skipping like our visit to Zagora in the south of Morocco. Basically, there was nothing to see or do and it was a long drive to get there.
I might sound a bit strange, but what I miss the most when traveling with a group is meeting new, fun and interesting people. When I travel on my own, I meet new people everyday! When you travel in a group, it’s hard to meet people outside the group. A group of 15 people arriving, can be a bit daunting for outsiders. For me, traveling in a group can at times feel more lonely than traveling on my own.
Most of the time, I just love going through the hassle of organising everything myself. It’s part of the fun!
But how do you do it?!?
The most difficult part is choosing my destination! You might think that my wish list of places to go would shorten over time, but it only gets longer and longer. When I travel, I meet other travelers, who tell me about their travel adventures. And I just have to add that country, city, National Park to my wish list!
Most of the time I just go with my gut feeling and choose a destination. Then the real fun starts! I buy a travel guide and start reading and browsing the web. When I go on a short break, like a city trip to London or Barcelona, I just book a flight and a hostel (last-minute), pack my backpack and go. I love exploring cities with no real game plan! Even better when it’s done with random people I just met at the hostel.
For longer trips, like my 17 days backpack trip through Thailand last year, I like to make a preliminary travel schedule. But I didn’t book anything ahead in Thailand except my flight. The travel schedule gave me a good indication of how long I could roughly stay in one place and still get to see everything I wanted. Not booking any guesthouses gave me the freedom to stay a day longer or shorter. That’s how I ended up staying a day longer in Chiang Mai to be able to spend an amazing day taking care of elephants! And I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!
I do get lonely sometimes!
But not more than back at home, when I come home to an empty house after a day of hard work. When I feel lonely, I go out to meet people and have a drink with them! Or I go online and post something on Facebook and feel connected to my friends and family. Most of the time they get so jealous of my stories, their reactions make me feel a lucky bastard and I feel great again!
I always stay in guesthouses or hostels with common rooms. Most people in these places travel alone and feel like meeting new people. I meet so many people, there are always a few who I hit of with. Long term (and sadly long distance) friendships have been established during these random city explorations. People I met for only a few days, hang out with, had amazing discussions with, relaxed on the beach with, drank lots of wine with…and I’m still in touch with years later.
Wow, you travel alone, you’re so brave?!?
Well, not really. Like I said, it’s easy to meet people. No worries about feeling alone. There’s hardly any time to feel alone. So, no bravery there.
I used to think I would never dare to travel on my own. Ten years ago, I went to Australia to do an occupational training for my studies. I lived and worked in Brisbane for 3 months. Since I was there anyways, at the other side of the world, I thought I might as well do some traveling. I was very nervous, I had never traveled on my own before. But once I discovered how easy it was, I was hooked and have been traveling on my own ever since!
I just take basic safety precautions, like I do at home. If I know I arrive late in a city, I book a sleeping place ahead. No wandering the streets on my own late at night, in areas I don’t know. My motto is better safe than sorry. I either stay in the guesthouse and spend time with people there or read a book. Or I go out with a bunch of people I met and trust. I rely on my common sense!
Just go out there, use your common sense and enjoy yourself!
You travel alone?!? WHY?!?
I just love the adventure of it. It makes me feel alive!