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How to Travel Alone

How to Travel Alone

Last month in Hong Kong, I went to the New Territories, a part of the region I’d never visited before. It was only half an hour from bustling Kowloon, but it felt like a totally different part of the world.

On the eve of my departure, before I’d fly to Tokyo and then to Los Angeles, I was feeling anxious.

I went for an hour-long run, my longest in a while. I set out just as the sun was setting and ran along the water, looking at the Kowloon skyline just across the narrow harbor.

I felt as if I were completely alone in the world, a pilgrim on a journey of discovery that would lead me back to my hotel. I wasn’t truly alone, of course—all around me were island residents walking dogs and pushing strollers. But I didn’t know them, and even though I came to Hong Kong often, it wasn’t my home.

I was just another traveler, out in the South China Sea, dreaming of my projects and soaking in the combination of disorientation and nostalgia that came from being in Asia again.

As I ran I told myself: everything is going to be okay.

Don’t you get lonely doing this? (AKA “What’s wrong with you?”)

Sometimes I do get lonely. Sometimes I get anxious and other times I feel sad. But these things aren’t necessarily connected to travel or to being by myself.

There’s nothing wrong with you if you want to travel alone. If you’re in a relationship, it doesn’t mean that your relationship is unstable. If you’re not in a relationship, it doesn’t mean that you’re looking for one.

If you want to travel alone, it pretty much means exactly that: You like to travel, and you like to be on your own at least some of the time.

If you want to hang out with people, it’s easily done.

These days I usually stay in hotels, but that’s after a dozen years of traveling around the world almost every month. In the early days I’d stay at hostels or small guesthouses, sometimes booking through a website like Hostels.com and other times finding something local directly through a search engine or asking around upon arrival.

While I’d never crack the spine of a guidebook now, in those early days I dutifully prepared for a trip by picking up the latest Lonely Planet or Rough Guide, which always lists the most popular spots for expats and travelers.

So the point is: if you want to be with other people, you can. But you can also appreciate the joys of being out in the world on your own.

Being alone helps you appreciate your surroundings.

When I mentioned this topic online, several people said things like: “Being on my own allows for much more spontaneity” – and also “There is a difference between loneliness and solitude.”

Traveling alone, you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want. If you want to sleep late or get up early, it’s entirely up to you. Extend your trip a day or two in a place you especially like? The world may not be your oyster, but all of these things are your decisions.

There are so many beautiful places in the world. You can see them with someone and share in the experience. Or you can see them on your own, and that’s okay too.

Do you ever travel alone? What have you learned?

– Chris

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    113 Comments

    • Ragnar says:

      I actually think that those onsets of “sudden loneliness” tend to happen no matter if you’re traveling alone or not. I’ve had it happen to me surrounded by dear and familiar friends more than once, and I’d be willing to bet that I’m not the only one. But maybe they’re more frequent when you’re far from “home” and alone.

      I’m leaving for my first long term solo travel next week, and I’m pretty psyched. Like you, I tend to think of solo traveling more like “you’re as alone as you want to be” which is something you don’t really get to choose during a normal routine. I’ll be back to share lessons learned at a later point in time, if I learn anything at all, haha.

    • Jordan says:

      Reading this from jakarta airport where I’ll sleep alone. Biggest thing I’ve learnt is just how insignificant we are in a large scale, you have to fight for yourself – she’s a big world out there!

    • MW says:

      I’ve lost count of the number of times my husband has been asked “YOU let her go by herself??!!” To which he replies with “Have you Met my Wife??”.

      Of course none of them would say anything to my face. Not that it matters as travel for them is relegated to 25th and 50th wedding anniversaries etc. Currently I travel at 50 – 70% alone and still love it. Prior to marriage more like 90% solo.

      It’s rare to meet people who are comfortable in their own skin and even more so in their own company. I relish time alone and do some of my best thinking and decompression while away and on my own. Am fortunate my husband understands my nature, values it and what it brings to our relationship.

      Thank you for this post.

    • Quade Baxter says:

      It is amazing how many people do not understand solo travel. For that matter, so many people won’t even go to dinner or a movie by themselves.
      I’ve actually had people tell me how brave I am traveling alone! Really…brave?
      I have been traveling the world alone as a life style, and really I rarely feel lonely. There are always friendly people to meet, and making friends on the road seems to come easier than back home.
      There are times I travel with others. But then we all go out separate ways, and all is good.
      This is a wonderful way to travel, I cant imagine traveling any other way anymore!

    • Scott says:

      No matter how many countries I go to. It just seems that the world gets bigger and bigger. Even if you feel alone look around your not alone.

    • Marie says:

      Chris, this is a very timely piece for me, since I’ve been thinking of taking a big “alone” trip, really a first for me. I’ve thought of it for years, especially inspired by your travels, but always felt that it wasn’t right to leave my family behind.

      Lately though, I just feel the need to just be able to soak in the experience by myself.

      MW has expressed exactly the way I feel–a need to decompress and think without having to accommodate anyone else.

      Thanks, Chris, with a special thanks to MW!

    • Pete says:

      In about a week, I’ll leave for a solo backpacking trip to Italy. In the past, I’ve traveled a lot for work a lot and my schedule my schedule and accommodations are defined set according to my work schedule. I rarely have time to explore and just “be” in a place and there are always things I’d like to do that I don’t have time for. This trip is different. I’ll be staying in hostels and B&B’s, and traveling by myself with absolutely no work to think about. This is new for me, but it feels like a reward of sorts – to escape the daily hustle and just be.

    • Ivonne says:

      For me, travelling alone is a constant and almost a tradition. I started on my own at an early age as a cruise ship photographer, believe me, it is one of the most solitary ways of travelling, in spite of being surrounded by other crewmembers and tourists. My friends tell me it is really daring of me… I think it is just normal! Mainly, it helps you becoming a more observant person, also a wiser traveller.

      You learn a thing or two about people when you’re on your own, you also discover what your limits are, and that’s really good. Alone you can risk doing more things. I hardly miss anyone when I’m travelling on my own, as you said, if you want to have company, you just have to look for it and I’ve met wonderful people in the most common of situations (asking for directions, getting lost in the subway). The world is too big to feel alone, you just need to get used to listen to that voice inside of you, it will tell you nice things.

      I won’t stop travelling alone. Some company is welcome every now and then, but it’s more personal when you’re on your own.

    • Kathy says:

      My husband and I are in our 50s, 3 grown children and one teenager still at home, and still going strong. We both grew up in families with strong travel genes, and started our first two years together traveling and hiking together. When we had children my husband had to travel separately for work and I would stay behind to take care of the children. Now we sometimes travel alone b/c with our schedules or work or interests or who we are visiting it sometimes just make more sense. I love that about our marriage and relationship that we both feel comfortable knowing the other one is doing something they want to do and trusting them while they are gone.

    • I used to travel alone a lot when I was younger, either as a student or with my job. I loved being able to spend as much or as little time as I wanted in a particular location, getting just the angle I wanted for a photograph, reading a book in a quiet corner of a restaurant or cafe, watching people go about their daily lives, without having to worry about whether a travelling companion was getting bored or wanted to linger longer.

    • Martin Gray says:

      Pretty much ALWAYS travel alone, for many reason you also outline: esp as I am someone who LOVES to be spontaneous, and mostly now that’s about being willing and open to just sit and wait and see who (locals and indiginous people etc) come along and where we go from there.
      I have done this since I stepped away from my career in IT in UK in 1995 and have kept it going somehow despite financial ups and downs. I have also been a full time house sitter for over 6 years (NZ, AUS and now Central America ) and have let my social/professional network know I am ‘available for hire’ with my income now to be a combination of portable and/or gift economy.
      When I was writing my book the other year, I also touched on ‘lonely’ vs ‘alone’ vs ‘isolation’ as some are more self controlled and empowering terms/activities than others.
      People would say things like “I hope you find what you’re looking for’ as if I were a lost sole wandering in sorrow or whatever, but it now seems to me there’s a difference between ‘searching’ and ‘exploring/discovering’ and I have moved 100% into the latter camp since finally getting more clear about who/what ‘shape’ I am, what fits/motivates me & what doesn

    • Lavonne says:

      I found out last minute that I would have a 3day weekend, so I bought an Amtrak ticket from Portland, OR to Los Angeles CA and a plane ticket back. It took 30 hrs to get there, and I snoozed a little in the observation car. The scenery was awesome! Once I arrived in downtown LA, I got on a city bus to a nightclub on Santa Monica Blvd and danced until it closed at 2:30 in the morning. Took a taxi to the airport where I found that it was closed until 6am, so I slept on a couple chairs in the lobby. Eventually got on my flight and was back in Portland in less than 2 hrs =) Best weekend ever! (Nothing scary happened for a single female traveling alone)

    • donna says:

      When I travel alone I usually have a purpose, like Art classes, language , cooking etc.
      The other thing is I engage with locals more and have always been pleasantly surprised by their friendliness .
      I’ve been taken under the wing of many I’ve met with no strings or negative outcome.
      I can do what i want when I want, and it is just time to be with myself and engage with the world.

    • Nancy says:

      I ONLY travel alone. Sometimes I’ll participate in an experience during my travels — a retreat or workshop — but I want my own space away from the group, too. There is much to learn about yourself and your environment through solo activities.

    • Bethany says:

      I love traveling alone. I usually end up meeting wonderful people and having random moments that are more valuable than the ones I planned. I have no problem traveling in my own skin. Lately, I’ve traveled with my husband, since we married and all of our trips have been together and for family related reasons. I still enjoy the excitement of going off alone though and plan to do more of it in the future.

      As some other have pointed out, there’s a difference between loneliness and solitude. going somewhere new or far away alone, and communing with yourself is like resetting my tolerance and clarity engine. Sometimes these journeys can feel like mutli-day journeys of meditation. I bring a diary, good music, or reread old diaries, take long walks. Yes, people comment. I just smile. Yes, I’ve been harassed, but more often, I’ve been helped or been able to help someone else.

    • Katana Leigh says:

      When I travelled alone from Canada to California two years ago, I figured out how to spend time alone in a way that created more value … I figured out that I had to spend time alone if I wanted to have something to share with the world. I spend time alone to blog, to write, to paint, to illustrate, anything I’ve created for other people requires some time alone. Many friends have told me being in my company creates comfortable silence as we can spend time together quietly working on a project, and when I travelled alone I discovered how to enjoy that comfortable silence for myself. Travelling alone made me feel more peaceful and less dependant on other people. I was homeless for awhile and travel meant I was having an adventure instead of a ‘problem. Reframing. <3

    • josh says:

      I love this post, Chris. And MW – your blog has been bookmarked because I’m planning a (solo) trip to Cambodia, and I like the way you travel.

      I’m married. I love my wife. I’m very happy in my marriage. I love my kids. I miss my wife and kids when I travel. But I do it anyway, because I need to be alone, and I need to soak some adventure up in my solitude. I return refreshed, rejuvenated, better able to love my family with everything I have, because I have more.

      And yeah, people think I’m crazy. Friends are judgmental. But it’s my life, not theirs. And I’m going to live it with gusto.

      By the way, my wife loves it when I travel. Because when I get back, I’m like a new man, full of energy and life. She’s the best.

    • For me, traveling alone is an endless search of who I am and my place in the world. I love photography, and I spend most of my time lost, trying to find a place in that world as well. I travel to connect with myself, to explore me as much as the foreign country I happen to be in. Next week I will be exploring on a RTW ticket visiting 5 countries. I hope a few of you will join in the solitude.

    • Tisha says:

      I almost always travel alone. I like it because I get to notice more of my surroundings and simply think my own thoughts about a place. And, for me, it’s important to know that I can handle certain situations by myself – it’s an incredible, I-can-do-just-about-anything-feeling. I still love traveling with others, but I end up making more new friends if I don’t.

    • JJ says:

      Before I was in a relationship, I traveled alone mostly. I felt weird at first since everyone I knew traveled in groups, but I found it afforded me a lot of flexibility. The biggest downside was when I got lost.. it felt insecure at times and it helps to have several heads to assess the situation rather than desperately try to find you way on your own.

    • Teryll says:

      This post is so timely as I am finalizing details, plans and various tidbits for a two-week trip to Spain. It’s my first time travelling solo internationally and I have been experiencing a wide range of emotions about it. I have some things pre-planned but am also trying to leave space open for adventures that to be determined. 🙂

      I got a real visual about loneliness vs. solitude and I will definitely spend some time meditating on that, as that is one thing I’ve read about so far as being just part of the experience of traveling solo. I hope to learn more things about myself and how I interact with the world at large, but more importantly learn about others!!!!!

      I am encouraged by other traveler’s comments here too. Thank you all for posting and I look forward to more comments from others!

    • There IS a beauty in traveling alone — even for an extrovert like me! I love the freedom it brings, and you’re so much more inclined to meet new people when you’re alone. Though it has some lonely and difficult moments, I often find my overall experiences are richer when I’m traveling solo. Thanks for the post, Chris!

    • Stacy McKay says:

      Hi,Chris.

      I enjoyed your post.i am about a year away from becoming an empty nester, full time solo traveler and solopreneur. To get prepared I have started taking mini solo trips in driving distance from my home.So far, I have experienced loneliness only at dinner time upon occasion. Despite locating myself at the bar not everyone or every couple is willing to strike up a conversation. In general I enjoy my own company and utilize my solo trips to do things I love and energize me. I also work at my side hustle (a blog I’m launching that will talk about this next big chapter in my life) when I travel but that never interferes with others plans because I only have myself to consider.

      I am looking forward to this new adventure of traveling and feel confident that I will become more bold in my introductions and engaging with others. It is a growing experience. I think loneliness can creep in at anytime…whether your home or away. Knowing what strategies to put into play when it does is always helpful. Maybe it’s a funny movie, phone call to an old friend or doing something creative that help shift your energy.

    • I don’t travel alone anymore because I’m now married but when I did, I loved solo travel. There is something very special about doing what you want when you want and meeting those who just happen to come into your world. I spent 5 months alone in Australia and also crossed over to Indonesia. My first solo trip was simply to Boston, MA for a week and I met a group of random people who invited me to stay at their house for the week. Amazing journey’s. Now I share them with my wife but I always recommend people travel alone at least once in their life.

    • Tati says:

      I just can’t wait on others to book trips, so I just go. I love traveling alone and I do agree that you enjoy more your surroundings and small things. I like to learn how to catch a bus or be like a local, although I’ve always met amazing people in hostels and started hanging out with them at some point of the trip.

    • I´m right now at Newark, NJ airport and I just received this E-mail and blog post. Right place, right time. I also travel alone right now. For me travelling alone has got two advantages, you can discover the world with your own eyes, not the eyes/interests from others and secondly you are the master of your travel plans.

      Saying his, being able to be spontaneous while travelling alone is priceless. Happy travelling everyone 🙂

    • Cathy says:

      I travel alone 95% of the time. I like following my own path and not having to entertain or babysit other people. I have learned to be a stronger, more confident person by only having myself to rely on. I think it’s something everyone should do at least once.

    • I actually prefer to travel alone. I spent most of my 20’s and early 30’s doing so, and I didn’t feel any more alone that I often did back at home. It was exciting to go new places and meet new people!

      Now, I find it a bit more challenging to travel with my family, because we all have our habits that clash with each other. What I love about traveling alone is that I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, go wherever I want. I usually research where I’m going ahead of time and plan out some things I’d like to do and visit, and look into restaurants that meet my food needs.

      And then I allow for relaxation and spontaneity. I’m rarely bored, as I can always write, take a walk or hike, do yoga, or meditate!

    • Christy says:

      I travel alone all the time, and in fact just returned from a trip to Australia and New Zealand. I am a person who spends a lot of time alone by choice (large groups wear me out) and traveling solo is pretty natural for me. People are nice and friendly as a general rule, and it’s often easy to get one seat at a show or one place on a tour.

    • Kathryn says:

      I wouldn’t have thought solo travel was even an issue nowadays. It’s so cheap to travel and easy to just pick and go – easier to go alone than trying to co-ordinate time off work with other people.

      My biggest issue is airport toilets + luggage (some of those tiny cubicles make even a small bag a struggle). It’d be really handy to have a trusted friend to keep an eye on my stuff while I go!

    • jr cline says:

      I travel alone a lot. I enjoy it. It’s easier for taking pictures.

    • My first solo trip was not intentional — I wanted to explore the slot canyons of Utah and no-one was brave enough to go with me. I went anyway, and have been addicted to solo adventure travel ever since. In more than a decade of travelling alone, I’ve learned so much about the importance of solitude and introspection and what it takes to build personal courage. I’ve made a commitment to always carve out time just for me, whether I’m travelling or not. One of the best things to come out of my solo travels? National Geographic asked me to write a book about it: http://amzn.to/1b9lQWe

    • Pat Larsen says:

      I like to travel alone too.
      However, I am an extrovert and get my energy from people, so I am always meeting people along the way. I travel for a mix of business and exploration so I intentional network info the communities before I arrive. I don’t have to spend time with people, but I always have the option

    • Angela says:

      I agreed that traveling alone is not as scary or lonely as it seems. I travel all the time in the US alone for work and for pleasure, but taking a vacation solo for the first time feels different. It can be really liberating, especially when your usual travel companions don’t want to go to the same places you do. I remember how nervous I was the night before I left for my first big solo international trip to Colombia. Practically sick to my stomach with nerves. Next was India, more nerves! But now, just a few years later, I’d go just about anywhere on my own. Amazing the difference a few years makes!

    • Tonya says:

      I travel alone almost all the time, and it’s mainly for the reasons already mentioned. While a shared experience can be great, I’d rather focus on my surroundings and be free to go wherever that takes me. When you’re traveling with another person, it’s much more difficult to be fully present, and the whole experience just feels diluted. I’m hiking the Camino de Santiago in May, and will be flying solo once again. Can’t wait!!

    • Laura says:

      I always travel on my own…I’ve traveled throughout Europe, Australia, the US and Canada…I am never alone, immersed in new experiences I would never had otherwise…if I feel lonely, I go to hear music so I am surrounded by the sound.

    • Bradley says:

      I love this article. I enjoy traveling alone, but I haven’t done it since I met my wife a few years ago. Lately, I have been wanting to plan a trip alone, but I have felt bad about wanting to go alone and not include my wife.

      I don’t feel so bad about wanting that after reading this.

    • Nathalie says:

      Hi Chris,
      I’m actually traveling alone right now! I’m on my first trip to Seattle. I do travel alone most of the time; and I enjoy it. It forces me to strike up conversations while at dinner or in shops, etc. (I’m a bit of an introvert). One thing that did bug me about this trip was comments from friends/family members trying to make me feel guilty because I didn’t ask them to come along with me. I don’t think about other people when I plan my trips! I go places I want to go to and I make my plans and hit the road! I don’t always travel alone but I do love it; I just have to get over the guilt trips I get.

    • Teresa says:

      HI Chris! I have been basically on-my own overseas for the past three years. While I have spent a long amount of time in each place (nearly a year in Germany, 4 months in France, a year in South Korea, and a few shorter diversions in other countries) I certainly have experience with darting into the unknown independently. There are things I like about it and things I have found… challenging.

      One of the things that has helped me the most is connecting with groups and communities I participated with in the States that have international affiliations and participation. For me this is mostly spiritual groups including the Art of Living, Soka Gakkai International and Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki. All of these groups have community and members all over the world. It has been great to connect with people from these groups, sometimes for just an afternoon, sometimes on a regular basis, everywhere I have visited. I can’t imagine my journey without it!

      Thanks for writing the article. It seems sometimes we need “permission” to be on our own. And while there are many benefits to exploring the world or anything on our own, it’s also nice to know we’re not “alone” in our ventures!

    • The majority of the time I travel I am alone, at least for the “travel” part. Biggest thing I’ve learned is that home is a feeling, an inner state, not a place. I’ve also learned how highly I value personal freedom.

      It may sound cliche, but it’s true: home is where my heart is. And because I’m a nomad at heart, everywhere and anywhere can feel like home (sometimes even more than my day-to-day residence does). I don’t associate “home” with physical attachments, but rather emotions.

      I’ve learned I can be very happy living out of a hotel room with nothing more than a single bag or suitcase. Often the fewer things I have with me, the happier I am, because the freer I am.

    • Ben says:

      I always go alone. I like it – though I can also enjoy being with a good friend. I also like going with another friend who likes to travel alone. We split up during the day and meet for dinner or an evening event. This is ideal I think because the time of an alone trip that gets lonley is at night. I usually don’t mind but sometimes it would be nice to go to a show or concert and have a friend. Some people would probably so these things alone but my personality tends to not like to do those specific things alone. There are many apps now for meeting people. I’ve met awesome locals and gone out to dinner with them and learned a lot about their city so that is always an option. I’m an only child so perhaps this is why I don’t mind being alone. I love it for all the reasons Chris mentioned. Plus I don’t feel tied down to activities? If I want a to do a food tour or longer in a museum or skip an appointment because I want to people watch – all my choices. I never get sad travelling and really enjoy each adventure.

    • Whether you’re traveling alone or with some one, one of the most spectacular places I’ve ever been is walking the circular path/road around Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak, starting at Lugard Rd. Oh, and the drive into Kowloon from the airport, with sea and mountainy islands. Soooo beautiful! Highly recommended.

    • usha says:

      I prefer to travel alone,like visiting places of interest/sightseeing, though in India it is still thought as unconventional for a woman to do so. (I mean , it should be with either friends /groups/ relatives ..).But ,I agree that one has the opportunity to spend time leisurely as per the individuals’ wish, if travel alone.

    • I’ve traveled alone quite a bit. As a female in my early 20’s there are scary moments, but I have really loved it overall! Some of my best times of reflection have been while I was sitting alone in East Flatbush, Brooklyn and journaling while riding the bus into LA. Traveling alone allows me to really observe and reflect and be inspired. When I travel with other people, so much time is spent trying to decide what everyone wants to do, see, eat, and spend money on, which can end up wasting a lot of time. Besides, when I am alone, I have the opportunity to meet new people more easily as I am more approachable, in say a cafe or bookstore, than I would be if I had an entourage with me.

    • Benny says:

      I’ve traveled alone a lot and I enjoy it. I like going at my own pace. I don’t have to worry about waiting for someone or asking what to do. I like just soaking in the environment. I don’t feel scared or alone. It actually makes me feel great.

    • hutchy says:

      That people are welcome and awesome by default across all countries languages barriers etc.

    • I LOVE traveling alone, although with a family of five I rarely get to do it. But even day trips on my own are great. I love being able to do exactly what I want, when I want it. I love being able to linger or take photographs to my heart’s content without anybody nudging for me to move on.

    • Michael says:

      Loneliness is a companion that never deserts me. Never wanders far from my side. Has traveled with me to ends of the world I’d never imaged seeing. Loneliness has been a steadfast friend. Loyal and open hearted. We grown to enjoy each other’s company.

    • Teags says:

      I nearly always travel alone for all the reasons you mentioned… I prefer to travel, sleep, eat where I want, when I want – without having to consult anybody else! I also reflect a lot on life when I travel and travelling in solitude allows me to do this in peace. If I ever start to feel disconnect from like-minded people, then I will go and stay at a Hostel and participate in some of the activities. You’ve got to be open to new and very different experiences when you travel!!

    • Paul Latta says:

      Chris,
      I am currently traveling alone on a 4-week journey through the Yucatan and I’m loving it! I have felt the same feelings throughout this trip that you encountered in China — both the good and the bad.

      Originally, my girlfriend was to accompany me for the first week but decided the day before departure that she did not want to go. She was afraid to tell me earlier because she thought I would be disappointed. Instead I was elated!

      I told her I would rather have her stay home and be happy (she has a lot going on) than to have her along and miserable for a week — that would only bring me down.

      Now the only person’s whims and fancies I have to worry about are my own.

      I’ve seen what I’ve wanted and I’ve done what I’ve wanted. I’ve met a lot of great people and have made many new friends — many of whom I anticipate seeing again in other places.

      In fact, this evening, I met an older couple from Vancouver and we all enjoyed a free Trova concert on a square in Merida, Mexico. Might not have happened otherwise.

      Sure, there have been things I wish my partner could have enjoyed with me, but I’m just grateful I got to experience them.

      thanks for sharing your journey with us.

    • abhinav beri says:

      I have travelled alone lot many times and for me it has always helped me to explore things in my prespective, sometimes it has helped me to see those things which might get ignored while I am in a group but yes in a group you can get differerent opininons for one particular matter only people are found of discussing and exchanging thoughts.
      Being alone is like knowing your SELF.

    • Great to read this because I’ve just come out of a 26 year marriage where my ex and I travelled a lot and always together. I’ve come away with my gypsies heart still beating but a bag full of fears has about continuing to travel by myself. After reading your post, Chris and all the lovely comments I feel more excited than afraid.

      Bring on the solo adventures!

    • Robin says:

      I have been traveling and living alone abroad for the last year or so, mostly in Oman. I’ll be honest. It is lonely. It is boring. When I am by myself, I am more likely to avoid visitings sights or doing fun things. Instead, I get stuck in various self improvement routines. Running, meditating, healthy food, self discipline. And working (I am a researcher). I can certainly see how it could be liberating for people with busy and social lives to eat or travel alone now and then. But when every meal you can remember has been alone, and everyone you know is more an acquaintance than a friend, it can feel a little like being stuck in limbo. For me, I want to have people in my life who I care more about than myself, and I want more for my life than just being a stranger. Maybe that is the difference between traveling alone and being lonely while traveling.

    • kabamba says:

      “Sometimes I do get lonely. Sometimes I get anxious and other times I feel sad. But these things aren’t necessarily connected to travel or to being by myself”
      Thank you.

    • Lisa says:

      I had my first trip abroad last summer and it was solo. My family thought I was insane, but it was the best thing ever! I met so many new people, got to spend as much or as little time as I wanted on things, do whatever I felt like doing without anyone trying to say they knew me better. It’s a lot easier to find yourself and know what you’re capable of when you go it alone. Loved every minute of it, even the small lonely parts as they were learning experiences, and can’t wait to do it again!

    • Oliver says:

      Travelling alone can you make feel less lone than travelling with others. As you said, you appreciate your surrounding on a different level, are more awake. Strangers are also more likely to approach you whenever you are lost or simply look like that… 🙂
      I have been doing a lot of travels alone and lately some extensive trips with my girlfriend as well. So it depends a lot on the companion, your ability to compromise and also the time you seek solitude even though when travelling together.
      I enjoy both and have to admit that I turned into a slow traveller over time which is also a good thing… However, everyone should at least once in their life travel alone which tends to be more of a journey within as well…

    • Leonardo says:

      A great starting point, if you want to travel alone, is to take mini roadtrips near home by yourself. This way you start getting accustomed to going on adventures by yourself.

      I have noticed that one of the things people feel really awkward about is eating in a sit-in restaurant by themselves. Going out alone to local restaurants and enjoying it can help in reframing our mind to the idea that we can have a good time by ourselves.

      These are good things to do before you go out in a big trip by yourself, especially if you are unsure of solo travel.

    • Lisa says:

      I mainly travel alone and it can be very hard when people ask you ‘why are you travelling alone?’ Some people just don’t understand that it can be the most rewarding way to travel. I meet so many people, have so many mini-adventures and love the freedom of being able to do what I want. I definitely endorse it!

    • Nate says:

      Traveling along in Argentina for six weeks gave me more confidence than I ever had before because at first I had no friends. But when I returned to the US I was more confident and had more friends.

    • Great Article, inspiring as always Chris.

    • Kathleen says:

      It’s no exaggeration to say that traveling alone is the single best thing I ever did for myself. In my twenties, between jobs, I planned a six week trip to France. Various friends who were supposed to accompany me for a week or two all dropped out, and I went anyway.

      I’d always been shy, and socially very timid, and though I had been to France before, backpacking with a friend, and spoke some French, the idea of going by myself was so terrifying I literally threw up all the way across the Atlantic. This was pre-Internet, so I had a rail pass and a copy of “Let’s Go” and no reservations except for a hotel my first few nights in Paris. I had to find hotels, find restaurants, figure out train schedules, all by myself. I cried a lot.

      I also met wonderful people and had amazing adventures and grew up a good ten years worth in six weeks. At the end of the trip, I was staying in a cheap hotel near the docks in St-Malo, and I came down to breakfast to find that the hotel bar was packed with loud raucous dock workers. A few weeks before I would have fled in tears, but instead I claimed a seat, found the owner, and asked for my breakfast.

      I’m still too shy. But I go wherever I want to.

    • Carolyn Lang says:

      I love traveling alone, I love the anxiety that comes before leaving, I love the feeling of wandering around in a big world as just a solitary person. When I started traveling alone internationally when I was 20, people tried to put this fear in me. As if being a young woman traveling alone would automatically attract every possible bad experience to me like a magnet. It didn’t. I went to San Juan and Rio de Janeiro and Rome and Phnom Penh. Being alone gave me time to think about what I was seeing and to situate it into my life. I almost couldn’t keep up with the amount of things I was learning. I think the more you see of the world, the more the world lives in you and the more confusion you inherit from its idiosyncrasies. It’s good to travel with other people, I think you develop a shared bond over the close proximity of traveling; the train rides and the flights and the little hotel rooms, the challenge of a different way of life. But I also think it’s good, and maybe even necessary, to put yourself into new situations alone, vaguely unprepared, and experience the ways that you will adapt, because if you have the privilege of traveling you owe it to yourself to try.

    • Thanks Chris for the depth of your sharing. It validates our own journeys.
      I enjoy traveling alone. I love the adventure of it. Now I see the world differently then when I was younger. Now I see I am never alone because every where I go I meet my brothers and sisters. We are one family on this planet. Our similarities are so much more than our differences. Each encounter on a soul-to-soul level offers windows into the awareness of unity and oneness. All you have to do is truly listen with an open heart and you make friends everywhere you go.

    • Melissa says:

      When I was traveling in Munich, everytime I got lonely a person walking their dog would show up. I immediately connected with the dog and received a smile and conversation from the owner. It was a mini adventure in itself . Thanks for the article!

    • Carolyn says:

      Loved your article! I have never travelled completely alone until 2011 when I wanted to tour Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. I had specific places I knew I wanted to go, and I didn’t want to take the chance of travelling with someone who may not want to see what I desperately wanted to. I flew there, drove 2,000 miles in 9 days and flew home all by myself. As an older woman, everyone thought I was out of my mind, but it turned out to be great! Yes, there were times I would have liked to share the beauty with another, but it was still worth it. Then in 2013, I walked the Camino de Santiago alone, but once I got there, I was not alone because I met so many others along the way.
      Again, thank you for your article which was very encouraging and validating! I will probably be travelling alone again!

    • amy kaplan says:

      We may have others in our regular everyday life and they keep us company, but, really, we travel through life alone so actual traveling alone is good practice for every day life. Most of my loneliest moments have been in the company of others and not when I am all by myself.

      The points I liked best that you made, Chris, were the assumptions that people make about why you are traveling alone, in sum, as if there is something wrong with you. I have been unrooted– by choice– for almost six years and everyone assumes that I live the way I do cause I am lost, distraught, etc. This is somewhat true and I also cherish my ability to move and to mix out there in the wide world. Staying still can be the most lonely place of all to be.

      I have yet to travel abroad ~alone~ or at all but I see that in my near future . . . hugs!

    • John says:

      Traveling alone at least once a year is a must! It will clear your mind like nothing else. You will interact with locals at a much different level than when traveling with someone. Also, it is great to be free of the hassle factor that comes with traveling with someone else, no matter how compatible. No 2 (or more, which is torture for more than a few days) people are exactly, or even close enough, compatable in terms of getting ready, night owl vs lark, walking speed, luggage pounds, fitness level, food desires, temperature tolerance, etc…., so traveling alone has great appeal and benefits. Traveling with someone does have its perks of being able to share the experience, and getting insights/ideas from each other. It just needs to be alternated with traveling alone. Did you book that solo trip yet? John R.

    • Angela says:

      In 2012 I sold everything, moved into a van and drove around the US for 6 months solo. My family and friends told me I needed someone with me or a big dog to protect me. Wouldn’t I get lonely? Wouldn’t there be threatening, creepy people lurking in the dark ready to pounce? Not really, and no.

      Like most people have said, you can get lonely in a crowd and that’s actually the only times I did feel the twinge of loneliness; when in a city full of people. But, loneliness pushes me to talk to people and that’s when amazing things happen. I had complete strangers go out of their way to help me and I think it would be less likely to happen if I was with someone.

      I was also told I was very ‘brave’ to go out on my own; the alternative was NOT going and that wasn’t really an option. Solo travel is the best way in my opinion. You pay attention to your surroundings more and your instinct kicks into overdrive. You can do what you want, when you want, and be as spontaneous as you feel. I’m comforted to hear there are so many people who share the same enjoyment in solitude and that some have found partners who understand this need. Gives me hope. Collect experiences, not things.

    • Last summer I went on a 4000-mile roadtrip on my motorcycle, more than half of which was spent in solitude. It was an incredible experience, one that I would recommend to anyone.

      I really think the first thing a person should ask themself before traveling alone is “why am I traveling alone?”

      For me personally the purpose of my trip was self-discovery. Traveling alone gave me a LOT of time for self-reflection, and as a result I was forced to face some of my greatest fears and failures from the past. I’m not gonna lie, it was painful, but I can say that my prayer life increased significantly, I experienced inner healing, and I made friends with some of the coolest people on the planet!

      So I think as long as a person is clear about WHY they are traveling alone, and is not afraid to learn from the unexpected things they experience regarding themselves and others along the way, then I think traveling alone is a great idea.

      Kudos to Chris for this excellent article and discussion topic.

    • Linda says:

      Once again, you strike the right cord Chris.
      I appreciate reading the comments as much as the article.
      I have travelled extensively on my own, not so much now, and I loved it.
      The freedom to think on my own without interruption and the spontaneity of being able to jump onto one of those thoughts and run with them to a different location on a whim – GOLD
      Best thing i learnt: if you feel like you want company, sign up for a local sightseeing tour in that area.
      When you have finished, you will have got your hit of company, have swapped an email or two and be ready for you time again.

    • Diego says:

      But, what about the people who is afraid or traveling alone? … I’m from south america and I want to travel to New York (some time in the near future), but I dont feel like able to do it… Every now and then I’m spreading my idea among my nearest friends to see if the want to join me, but I havent gotten a positive answer so far.

      I guess, for some people, it is kinda harder to get out of the “comfort zone”

    • I began solo travel largely through necessity. My friends liked to go to warm places in summer or holiday periods. I preferred going to cold places in winter and avoiding crowds. They liked sitting on beaches, I liked skiing or hiking up mountains. Not much scope for compromise there!

      In pursuing my chosen activities alone I learned how satisfying it can be, as so many other commenters have shared. Solo travel helped me to become fully aware of my introverted nature, and to be comfortable in that skin. Nowadays travelling alone is all I do.

      It’s still a shame when others just don’t get it, or feel sorry for me. But it’s good that we’re all different. When the social animals flock to the beach resorts it leaves the forests and national parks quieter for people like me to enjoy in relative peace.

    • Kate says:

      This is especially relevant for me as a solo backpacker, one week into my year around the world trip! I had backpacked solo before but it’s been a few years, and yet I’m enjoying it as much as I thought. I do get surprised reactions all the time, but hopefully I can inspire them to try it!

    • Sean says:

      Loved this!!! I can really relate. I have friends I enjoy traveling with, but those same friends don’t enjoy all the same activities. Sometimes it’s just nice to explore by yourself.

    • Susan says:

      So much of what you say here resonates with me. I wrote about it some time ago – learning to travel alone was transformative for me. And not just traveling alone because I had to for business, but choosing it.

    • ATA says:

      Yes once I embark a solo journey to Rio, Brasil last year about ten days. I went there, at first before my flight take off I felt like crying regretting my decision to go there alone without any friend accompanying. But, after arrived I never felt the same again and all I had was exciting. Its my only experience travel solo and I MUST say that, it soon enough to embark another solo long-period journey. Sure I can’t wait for it.

      You know why? The solo journey not only forced me to learn Portuguese but it also got me some chances to make friends with lo of locals and even still kept in touch with them right now. I met someone sitting beside me in flight from Dubai to Rio, and she offered me her house to stay. Its BLAWG because I never knew Brazilian was very easy and friendly. So much more to tell about solo journey, the best i can say is you need to experience yourself first before you ever get your words on it.

    • Aqiyl Aniys says:

      Yes I have travelled alone. I think it can be a good time to just in tune with yourself. I remember talking to a friend of mine a bout a road trip I took from NY to Florida in the US by myself and he thought I was crazy. I told him the trip was awesome because I was able to clear my mind and I listened to jazz all the way there. I told him that you really have to be comfortable with yourself to do something like this. He agreed and said that is why he would go crazy. He is not that comfortable with himself.

    • Niel Malan says:

      Now I’m trying to think if I’ve ever traveled with a companion.

    • Traveling alone really helps me appreciate my family when I go back to the states. The time with them is focused and it is quality. If I can deal with people ripping me off in Nicaragua, Peru or Spain with a light heart, I am so much better of a man when I return for some good ole fashioned Missouri family time.

    • Sherryl says:

      I love to travel alone, although being female means this is not always easy i.e. I have to make sure I feel safe and don’t take stupid risks.
      All the same, I love making my own decisions. I hate travelling with people who complain – they ruin it for me. Their restrictions, rules and demands always seem to encroach on what I want to do.
      Sharing a trip is fun with the right person (my brother has turned out to be a great fellow traveller) but hell with the wrong one!

    • Paris says:

      I just came back from my first solo vacation. I attended SxSW in Austin, TX. I had a ball. Even though I was by myself, I never felt lonely. I met lots of interesting people while I was there. I look forward to my next solo trip.

    • One thing I love about traveling alone is the freedom to do exactly what you want. Your type of breakfast, your work location. It’s hard to beat unless you have a superb companion!

    • Chris says:

      Back in January this year, I traveled to Thailand alone. It was my first trip so far from my country Romania and it was extremely enjoyable. I wasnt actually alone because I made so many friends out there that I keep in contact with right now. I met and befriended people all over the world.

      And yes, you can go to sleep whenever you want, you can eat whatever you want, and you can whatever crosses your mind. I find very pleasing to travel alone

    • June says:

      I did all my travel alone until I got married. It was difficult then to explain to people that there was nothing wrong with me and that I actually loved traveling alone. It’s even more difficult now to explain to others why I would rather travel alone despite having a family. Not that I need to explain but I do sometimes feel bad about wanting to travel alone. I love the freedom of solo travel, but I mostly love how I interact with my surroundings when I travel alone. I want the experience to be mine, I don’t want to share!

    • Anita Chase says:

      Another great post, Chris! I have found that traveling alone, at least once a year, helps me retain my sanity. It gives me time to think away from the expectations and distractions of familiar people. Also, I like to be on the move and many people I have traveled with like to take things at a more leisurely pace – although I often find myself moving slower when it is just me. Just reading this post makes me want to plan a trip!

    • Dave says:

      I travel alone more often than not. I always try and get someone to tag along but if not, I go anyways. I’m not going to wait until I find someone to have adventures. There will always be more.

    • Your post is what I needed to read. I travel for my business and I really enjoy it. But family pressures have curtailed my travel and I am missing it. I mostly drive because I have to take inventory with me. I embrace the solitude, it keeps me sane. My family has been pressuring me to give up the travel and focus my business more online. This would give me more time and allow me to rest up. I was starting to think that maybe they were right. You reminded me of what I get out of traveling and that is really what is important. I am going to book my next trip. Thanks.

    • holgamaria says:

      I love to travel alone, or at least get together with some friends at night for a concert or so, but then the rest of the day is mine ♥

    • I have always for the most part traveled alone, whether it was for work or pleasure. I took my first international trip alone when I was 21, where I traveled around Spain. What I love about traveling alone is that you are 100% in control of what you do, where you go and when. Also, being alone is so underrated. I think you learn so much more about yourself and learn to trust yourself and your instincts more when you are by yourself. This is so much more magnified when you put travel into the equation.

    • Iris M. Gross says:

      If I waited until I had companionship to go anywhere, whether it’s to the movies, a restaurant, a show, or San Francisco, I would never leave my bedroom. Just do it.

    • Jenni says:

      I’m heading on a solo trip to Spain at the end of April and I can’t wait. Tapas, vino and peace!

    • Most of my travel is solo. Many, many people express shock when they meet me and I tell them I’m on my own. Maybe it’s because I’m female.

      There are pluses and minuses as with everything. The major plus is I feel I experience more and more of what I love than when with someone else. The decision-making process can take a lot of time and the results can be you don’t even enjoy what you’re experiencing.

      The minus is – in the evenings it’s more lonely.

      I’ve taken up keeping an illustrated journal on my trips and while at home. This has helped a lot to allay loneliness and to savor the experience more.

      Ideally a blend of solo travel and travel with others would suit me perfectly.

    • Jo says:

      I want to drive across the US, coast to coast, just me and my camera. I’m an empty-nester and watch my 4 children come and go with pride and not a little envy. My daughters, in particular, are independent and feisty and travel alone. I can cite a million “reasons” why I haven’t done it yet. Lack of funds, not being “fair” to leave my husband alone, personal safety concerns. But I know the only thing holding me back is me. I WILL get out of my own way – thank you for the inspiration!

    • Valerie says:

      This resonates with me, especially the part about being in a relationship. Being able to travel alone while in a relationship speaks volumes about the stability of the relationship! I’m so glad my boyfriend is supportive, and I don’t think I could be with someone who held me back from solo travel.

      As a relatively new solo traveler, I’m learning how to navigate the emotions that arise from being alone in a new surrounding. My solo trips give me a sense of freedom and accomplishment, though, and I love being able to meet other people. People are usually very friendly to solo travelers! It’s a one-of-a-kind experience!

    • This is a great post, and reading through the comments was interesting too. Traveling alone can give you a new perspective on things. Just like taking a quiet walk around the block can. I agree that it’s possible to feel lonely in a crowded room, but sometimes we need to feel those moments in order to find connection with others. Keep it up… your work is inspiring!

    • Chris says:

      this is also a test

    • I’m really enjoying the theme/design of your blog.

      Do you ever run into any internet browser compatibility issues?
      A few of my blog visitors have complained about my website
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    • Yana says:

      I love travelling alone, but it’s a very different kind of travels. I find myself not to talk to anyone for days, because I am always by myself, and not the type to strike a conversation with strangers.
      Mostly I talk to people at bars, listening to music.
      Sometimes I feel lonely, but mostly I feel relaxed. I don’t have to answer to anyone, I make my own mistakes and my own plans. I went to a small museum and spent there half a day, just because I found it amazing. I wouldnt be able to do it if I was with someone.
      I read, I write, I take bath actually sitting in a bath tub, I don’t rush anywhere. Today I slept almost all day. And I felt ok with not seeing sights, because I was very tired. I took a long walk in a park, then sat on a bench talking to a friendly baby for awhile while her mother was standing few steps away smiling.
      I don’t argue, I don’t disagree, it’s just me, there is no one to argue with. Today it’ll be watching movies probably till 2 am, because I slept all day.
      And people also ask me how is it my husband lets me travel by myself. We don’t LET each other and we don’t forbid each other. We discuss and budget together, but we also want each other to be happy and we are letting us live the way we want.

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    • Michelle Pinheiro, Dubai says:

      I absolutely love travelling solo it feels like your the star of your movie.

      You make your bookings, wait patiently for the big day to come –
      You question your decision once again but your 20,000 feet flying!

      Sometimes you feel a co-star would be perfect for this beautiful journey.

      So you keep on going solo until you find another like you…. where LIFE is always an Adventure!

      Adventure is Out There 🙂

    • Jasmine says:

      yeah its good for sometime travel alone 🙂

    • Well I like the thought behind it. I like myself to travel all alone and you displayed it here.

    • marty says:

      Some times its good to travel alone. We will know about the place, people, their culture and lot many things. Whereas if we travel with our family or friends, we will just have fun.

    • Lucika John says:

      Well I can only say after reading this post I can travel alone alone. I need no friends if they are unavailable for me why to force them. Go ALONE and enjoy! CHEERS!!

    • Lucika John says:

      WOW! I will travel alone just after reading this post:P

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    • if you want to like like a king then follow yourself. be independent and be alone. it will help you determine your destiny and hidden power. a traveller has all these quality in him. while a toursit is just like a normal guy. be a traveller not tourist.

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    • Decky Harris says:

      Travelling alone gives peace of mind. It encourages self-confidence and keeps yourself to be refreshed. Specially Entrepreneurs needs to travel a lot to keep them away from stress. But before traveling they have to plan their schedule completely or it would be big stress on how work goes. I usually use to delegate all my work to my virtual assistant at Habiliss, so things get done as per the schedule.

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