Dear Hannah Smothers, You Should Travel Alone. Yes, Again.
Dear Hannah Smothers,
I read your article about traveling alone with great interest and surprise and, as a committed and convinced solo traveler, I decided to reply to you as I think you totally missed the point. I am sorry you had a crappy time in Europe, but maybe you weren’t ready for it back then?
Since the first time I moved to London aged 19, I did learn loads of shit about myself as well as discovering the true joys of being a fully independent young woman; Abroad. The first lessons weren’t profound or impressive I must admit: making my bed in less than 5 minutes, properly use the washing machine without destroying yet another shirt, or even cooking a slightly more elaborated pasta for dinner weren’t huge priorities on my personal Wonder-Woman-in-the-making list, but they surely helped me in becoming the person I am today.
Alongside the other stuff, I’ve learned how to survive on my own in a country where the humour isn’t funny (sorry Brits!), where people spoke a language I barely understood at first, and where it is acceptable to start drinking at 4pm. Whether it was traveling or yet another expat relocation, I really enjoyed my time alone. I really do. I am not some sort of creepy, lonely eremite, I enjoy the company of my friends, my family, and my partner. But I stick to solo travel and every time I get such a huge gain that I keep going back to it.
Well, for starters, traveling solo made me feel stronger and more confident. There is an empowering vibe that you get when the airport doors of a foreigner city open in front of you as if it was an entire world of opportunities just waiting to be explored. There is also a very strong kick in the ass when you are finally able to open your first bank account abroad or when your name is the only one on the rental agreement.
On the other side, traveling with others is tiring and slower. As much as I enjoy traveling with old and new friends, I hate the downside that comes with it. I’m an early riser, I only need 5-6 hrs sleep a night, I have a quick breakfast and I’m good to go for new adventures. Most of the people I’ve traveled with are slow, so much slower than I am at most things: packing, showering, walking, etc. And I hate waiting, or better I hate wasting time for other people to get ready. In a group, but also just with a partner, it’s very hard to decide what to do and how. Every single step is a battle, every food shop is a small or big compromise, every dinner a fight with somebody longing for the food to be magically ready without ever moving a finger while the pile of dishes grows in the background.
You say it sucks to see stunning places around the world all by yourself, but I couldn’t disagree more.
Whether I was at the Berlin’s WW Memorial, the Monkey Forest in Ubud or watching the Milky Way on top of Uluru, I enjoyed it all a million time more because I was on my own. Does that make me a selfish bit**? Perhaps, but I believe, there are emotions and moments that are best if lived alone, in pure connection with the elements, Mother Earth and no-one else around. Why? Because it makes everything more intense, there are no distractions, there are no superficial chit chats and there is just you and the World. That’s why I travel solo (most of the time), to go there, to that place where no-one else can enter and feel connected with the world, falling in love with it all over again.
Traveling solo is also the best way to connect with yourself and to really get to know what you stand for, to discover what you want and what your goals are. The solitude and being outside your comfort zone, alone, allows you to really get under the skin of those things that you always push in that secret drawer in your normal life back home. It is one, unique opportunity to truly be yourself or even transform yourself to a better version of you. Time alone does not exclude or compromise the love you have for others, it does not mean you are dismissing them from your life, it means you are strong, independent enough to go on with your life even when you are far away from them.
The other, less profound, reason I like traveling alone is because, oh boy! your chances are higher. Now, let me explain to you something you might have missed when you were 19 y.o but might understand now. If you are hanging in a bar in Bangkok all by yourself, you have 80% chances more of being hit on by a guy or to be approached to chat. Why? Because by being on your own you immediately become more intriguing and interesting, and yes, sometimes people would feel sorry for you and will approach you for that reason too. On the other (less cheeky) hand, if you are in fact alone you will be much more inclined to meet new people, let them be locals or other travelers which in general will enrich your travel experience.
Let me be completely honest, all the things above would happen to me or to you, even if you or I were a bloke. So, yes, I hear you, Hannah – let’s ban all these pretentious titles and blogs about female solo traveling while we wait for more men to grow some balls and start traveling alone too.
Do you agree or disagree? Leave us a comment below!
…here are some other articles you might fancy…
- 9 Questions To Ask Before Moving To A New Country
- How to Reduce Expat Anxiety and Culture Shock
- Tips For New Expats: What Nobody Tells You About Moving Abroad