Strangers cooking me dinner and sheltering me in Switzerland.
CouchSurfing hosts taking me in for an extra night when I missed my flight home from Milan, Italy.
Roaming around Isla de Ometepe in Nicaragua for several weeks, never minding that I slept in a hammock outside and woke up to the sound of howler monkeys and roosters.
Getting a heavily discounted meal in Seattle, Washington after some laughter-filled conversation with my waiter.
Each of these things happened to me while I traveled alone. Solo travel is one of the richest, most rewarding experiences you can have. I steadfastly believed that when I was single throughout my twenties, and I still believe it today as a married woman.
Perhaps you believe that solo travel isn’t for you. Perhaps you believe that solo travel is what people do when they can’t find anyone to go with them. Or maybe it’s only for those who don’t like people. Or those who are single, but certainly not married. Why on earth would someone travel alone when they’ve got a husband/boyfriend/partner to go with them?
These are things I imagine people think about me, and of course I love to experience new places with my husband. But that’s not to say that I can’t still enjoy that passion I realized in my twenties. Solo travel is about seeing the world through my eyes, not through the filter of a traveling companion. It’s about exercising my independence, my choices, my desires.
Solo travel is about gaining self-confidence. Everything is up to me: I have to make all the decisions, figure out how to get everywhere, and I get to eat wherever I choose. I also own all of my mistakes, and believe me, there are plenty.
Despite popular opinion, solo travel is heavy on social interaction. When we travel with others, whether it’s friends or family or a partner, we are wrapped up in them and don’t often invite conversation with locals or other travelers. When I travel alone, I learn all about my fellow solo travelers and relish in their travel stories. I learn about their home cities or countries; we exchange our experiences thus far and recommend activities to each other.
You know what else? Solo travel reminds me of my individuality. Marriage is a different sort of life: my life is entwined with my husband’s and I love how much we share. But I find that going off on my own is essential to my mental health and to the health of our relationship. I travel and I remember my own passions; I rediscover music that I haven’t listened to in a while. I write more, I pay closer attention to my own thoughts and linger longer at certain museum exhibits just because I can.
I love that I have found this thing that I love that is all mine. Solo travel fills me up with a warmth and lightness, and for that, I’m grateful. I’m grateful that I have the kind of supportive partner who helps me live my dreams without resentment or criticism.
I recommend traveling alone to all women, regardless of age or background or experience level. You can do this. If you feel called to travel, I promise that you won’t regret it.
I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. Today’s post is I for Independent Travel. I’ve also featured a fantastic hostel in Seattle, my frustrating delay at Birmingham Airport, and my memorable meals from my Seattle vacation last month.