I didn’t intend to write this blog post. It just sort of happened because I posted a photo on my Instagram on Friday about enjoying going to a bar alone and the feedback was interesting. I had some people agree, others say they could never do that, and other says they wish they had the confidence to do so. This got me thinking about why its good to travel solo and the times I’ve been solo travelling and what an amazing experience it was. Not because I was in some amazing location, but because of what it does to me as a person. Confidence, independence and even self-worth.
Growing up I was this shy, timid, under confident girl. I was hounded at school by bullies and it left me even unable to speak on the phone to someone without stuttering. I still remember at 16 having to call a shop about a temp job, and barely getting through my name.
As I got older I gained confidence and even became a sort of champion of the independent woman. I moved to London when I was 19 to do a yearlong internship, not knowing a single soul. I moved in with strangers and found myself exploring London by myself. This is definitely where I found my love for going to bars on my own!
The first time I solo travelled was to Paris. It was my first time to Paris, and one of the few times I’d been abroad. I was meeting my boyfriend 3 days later, but for those 3 days I would be alone. I think I must have got to the Eurostar about 2 hours early I was so panicked about missing it! Of course I had reservations. I didn’t speak the language. How would I get around? What would I do all day? Would I be safe? Yet, with a sort of “Oh sod it” attitude I booked it and there was no looking back.
Being alone for those 3 days was magical. I got up when I wanted, strolled outside and wandered the streets of Paris. I visited pastry shops for breakfast, had a glass of wine outside a café, watching with people go by and I hopped on the Metro (and navigated!) my way to the Eiffel Tower and sat on the lawn reading a book. When it came to dinner time, there was that slight dread feeling. Was it OK to eat dinner in a restaurant alone? So I had a thought. I looked up a restaurant with a bar area and went there. It meant I could eat at the bar and not feel as intimidated, but also I found myself chatting for hours with the bar staff and not once feeling alone. This made me realise it was good to travel solo after all.
One year on and I’ve travelled solo a good number of times. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I crave other people’s company, but traveling by myself I find very satisfying.
It sounds all very whimsical and stuff from Instagram quotes, but being by yourself, just soaking up your surroundings is very moving. Plus having a glass of wine in a bar by myself just makes me feel all powerful and Beyoncé #IndependentWoman
Being by yourself means you’re in control, you can do whatever you want. Do you normally find if you go with friends that someone takes over and you didn’t get to go to that museum because “it’s boring”? Well now you can spend all day long there. Do you want to set up your tripod and wait patiently for that that perfect crash of waves, so you capture it? You can wait all day without annoying someone else.
But all of that being said, it means you do have to take control. You have to make decisions as you have no one else to fall back on. Sometimes I’m a terrible decision maker. Mainly when it comes to food; I just cannot make a decision. Being by yourself forces you to take action, and that is something that you will take back with you once you come home.
I’ve said before in one of my posts how I’ve suffered from anxiety for as long as I can remember, and this often leaves me feeling like I’m useless and I can’t do things. Going away alone will boost your confidence so much. You’ll feel brave, you’ll feel powerful, you’ll fist pump the air when you managed to navigate that crazy public transport or successfully asked for a coffee with 5 sugars with the confidence to own that sugar addiction.
You’ll come away knowing you can do things, that you and with no one’s help, are able to make things happen. And that is a wonderful thing.
One of my favourite trips being by myself was to the Scilly Isles, but that trip also had it’s fair share of complications. My flight was cancelled, but after a 3 hour train journey there was no way I was losing a day out of my 4 day trip. So with a lot of back and forth discussions, phone calls and “Can I speak to the manager?” I got myself to Land’s End to catch another flight. How bloody proud did I feel organising it all, all by myself? So much so.
I’m not saying ditch company and go all ‘Solo 4 life’ on me, but I’m a firm advocate of women believing in themselves. Of course this applies to men too, but it’s a statistical fact that women are less likely to travel alone than men.
I’ve been with my boyfriend now for over 2 and a half years, but I still travel frequently without him. It’s healthy to be able to do things independently and assert some self-love. We have many shared passions, but we also have many different passions. There are plenty of times when you should compromise on things, that’s part and parcel of life, but you shouldn’t compromise to the point of not living your life the way you want to.
Understanding your worth is extremely important, and if you only get to go away to places other people want to go to, then you need to reassess the company you are with. Compromise goes both ways.
So sometimes going alone makes you understand the value you have and understand your self-worth. Spending time on yourself, not in a materialistic way, but in a way that you feel happy and loved, is one of the most important things you can do.
Whilst it may seem scary, why not book a trip somewhere short and small, even to another city? It’s the best leap I ever made, and now I look forward to it.
Here is my video experience at solo traveling in Dubrovnik. Let me know your thoughts on solo travel, I want to hear both sides.
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