Solo Travel – The Gift That Keeps Giving!
She who goes alone can start today; but she who travels with another must wait till the other is ready
At the time of writing this blog, I had just returned from a solo trip to Istanbul, Turkey while my good friend Jane Mukami happened to be solo trotting in Thailand. We’re both passionate about world travel and decided to co-author this blog and share our views on why we particularly love solo travel.
Jane & Sally at the Dubai desert – March 2016
Sally G: A few years ago, my colleagues and I had an amazing trip planned for San Francisco and Napa Valley. This was a bucket list trip for me and I was filled with excitement! Flights were booked, hotel accommodations made and all we had do was just show up and share the adventure! Just a few short weeks prior to the trip, cancellations started happening. I was left standing solo contemplating doing the same as I couldn’t fathom how a solo trip would play out! Most of the activities planned were supposed to be shared experiences. I took on the chance anyway. I was a bit fearful but it turned out to be the best experience I ever had which led to many solo adventures later.
Jane Mukami: In 2012, I had a trip planned to tour Europe. 7 countries in 14 days. My travel buddy cancelled last minute!! I went at it alone and it was a life changing experience.
Here’s why we would encourage almost everyone to give it a chance!
- SallyG: It has made me realize how strong and capable I am! Solo travel will push you out of your comfort zone! My fears have been greatly tested and overcome just by setting out solo. Try getting lost in a city where you can barely speak the language! This happened to me in Paris. Getting lost was part of my great adventure. Movies like “Taken” and many others will put fear in anyone especially a single female considering a trip to an unfamiliar destination. This should not hold you back unless you want to remain safe for the rest of your life by sitting at home on your couch! Adventure awaits you!
- Jane Mukami: Waking up in the morning stepping out into a city where no one knows who I am, hiding in plain site….it’s exhilarating. It gives me a certain kind of confidence and freedom to be myself, wander the streets with child like wonder and be totally consumed in the present. Language barrier in France, China, Thailand has potential to get out of hand but i take it as part of the adventure. As you travel solo being totally responsible for yourself it’s inevitable that you will discover just how capable you are.
2. Ready, Set, Go!
- SallyG: If you wait for the right company to come along to set out on a trip, you may wait a very long time! With solo travel, you do not have to consult anyone, wait for schedules to align, for your companions finances to allow it and a barrage of other reasons. People unfortunately can be very flaky. So wait no more! Want to visit a destination of your dreams! Research, book and GO!
- Jane Mukami: Solo travel allows you the flexibility of booking a discounted weekend getaway on a whim. It’s liberating to wake up in a different city with last minute planning or just simply because you felt like it. Talk about being in total control of your life and decisions! Solo travel is it!
Fearless Jane in Thailand
3. Self Discovery
- SallyG: It’s ok to be selfish with your time. When I travel by myself it becomes a great time to reflect. It has given me a great sense of purpose and appreciation.
- Jane Mukami: Life gets very hectic we get caught up working hard to pay the bills, not knowing if we’re coming or going. Life puts you in this position where you believe that life is all about working. Solo time gives us an opportunity to reconnect with ourselves and redefine a new normal.
SallyG: Reflecting in Sydney, Australia
4. Less people to be accountable for
- SallyG: There are no distractions. When traveling with others, compromises have to made at times to please everyone. While solo, you do just the things that interest YOU. You set your own schedule and move at your own pace. I love that freedom! While I still do enjoy traveling with my awesome travel squad, I have come to prefer solo travels!
- Jane Mukami: Squads are awesome for memory creation purposes but with them comes coordination/heading. “Let’s meet at the lobby for dinner at 8.30pm” “What time do we leave tomorrow?” When solo, you roll with the punches.
5. Faith restored
- SallyG: Nothing has made me believe in humanity more than traveling around the world by myself! I have met some of the nicest people in my travels! People from different cultures, background and religious beliefs. While we may be different on the surface, we are all the same deep down and generally want to be happy! I have met total strangers who have invited me to their homes and given me great insight on how the locals live. Stuff I can’t find on Google.
- Jane Mukami: I’m seated at a restaurant in Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport as i write this. On the table on my left is a guy from Sweden who i’ve been chatting with for the last hour. He has been on a 6 week solo trip and visited 8 countries as he spends time with himself. Listening to his stories reaffirms that time by oneself is very necessary. I’ve met people from Australia, Spain, Germany, China, Portugal all of whom shared contacts and asked me to let them know whenever i want to check out their neck of the woods. My bucket list is ever growing because interacting with other travel lovers means sharing stories of our past adventures and hearing about these places firsthand, seeing their eyes light up with fond melancholy, is better than any review you could ever read online.
6. Shattering Stereotypes
- SallyG: People will always tell you about a place based on their own opinions or something they heard – not quite experienced. I strive to create my own unique experiences and it has served me well. At the same time, I have also had to prove to naysayers that you can be a solo female traveler with no ulterior motives – I hope you can catch my drift. Being alone does not equate being lonely. I have had to ward off unwanted attention at times. I could go into great detail here but will spare you for now:)
- Jane Mukami: Gone are the days when women waited on male figures (fathers + husbands) to make plans and take them places. We now live in a world where women can make their own decisions regardless of status. I concur with Sally, It doesn’t mean we are miserable or trying to get unwanted attention. We are simply enjoying this phase of our lives by indulging in what makes us happy #JetSetting
7. Develop A Killer Instinct
- SallyG: While, one must always be alert and aware of their surroundings/people in unfamiliar places your best guide is your instinct. I have learnt to trust my gut. If it does’t feel right, it usually isn’t! I have learnt when to have my guard up or let it down. I am yet to be steered wrong by it. This is how I am able to get some great memories captured by total strangers who have turned out to be friends.
- Jane Mukami: Natives are quick to identify foreigners or those that are new to their city. Wear confidence and remember as much as you’re out exploring and welcoming new friends don’t be naive or gullible. Pay attention to anyone that might randomly pry about where you are staying or your whereabouts. Your instincts and gut feelings should be your best compass and keep emergency numbers for the country you’re visiting handy.
These are just a few of the reasons we enjoy our solo adventures! Are you a solo traveler? What have been your highs and lows? Are you afraid to try it out? What’s holding you back? We’d love to hear from you.
Often people focus on the hindrances and not the adventure. Try this instead: Can’t speak the language – Learn (at least the basics: Hello, Thank You, Goodbye, How Much, Please etc). We now have language translator apps that have made it so much easier! No airfare – start saving. Work – plan ahead. Where to go – research. Afraid – choose no regrets!! No regrets whatsoever!
SallyG: Yes new friends! On a dinner cruise in Bangkok