Travelling solo takes guts and calls on your reserves of resilience. But it can be incredibly fulfilling. If you’re someone who wants to observe, think, absorb, then solo travelling is a way to give yourself the space to really live in a culture, rather than rushing through it chattering to a companion.
I found it scary at first but then began to relish the insights you get. Walking down a quiet street in a Spanish town, noting the Moorish influences and exchanging a nod with a lady sitting outside her shop. Watching the Northern lights in silence from your balcony while you drink a weird Norwegian liqueur. Even standing in a city centre first thing and watching people rushing to their offices, then taking a late breakfast in one of the places they eat at.
These are all things that are just as good, if not better, alone. Haven’t we all had the experience of trying to take in a spectacular sight while our travelling companion talks non-stop?
The thing is, solo experiences needn’t be lonely experiences. With social media, email and smartphones, we can share the special things we find with people whose opinions we really care about, even when it’s not possible to be in the same place at the same time. Our experience enriches them and their response can light up our journey.
And travelling solo has changed hugely with the advent of sites like airbnb. It makes a great change to stay with people who live in a place, rather than only meeting other travellers. And you can use these sites’ identity checks as an extra level of security when travelling.
And I guess I’ve learned too, that with a smartphone and a good book – you’re really never alone.