Going solo

“That’s so brave! I could never do that.”

“Aren’t you scared?”

“Do you think you’ll be lonely?”

These were all fairly common responses I got when telling people that I intended to go on my first completely solo trip backpacking and hostelling in Scotland.

My replies:

“I think anyone could do it if they decided to.”

“No, I’m excited with a slight aftertaste of nervous.”

“I hope not!”

At times, these reactions made and still make me feel like I have to constantly extol the virtues of solo travel. It feels like I have to evangelize to prove that the doubters are wrong. It seems that the only solution is to dramatically proclaim that I’ll never travel any other way again.

But that isn’t true!

While travelling through hostels alone, I met incredible people. Some will be friends for life, and others simply passed through my journey, leaving me with their unique and incredible stories written in my travel journal to remember. My fellow travelers are creative and brave and badass and loving and curious and generous and caring and introspective. I am better for having met them.

At other times, I was alone. When I was lost or tired, I didn’t have an old friend there to share the hard moments. There were moments when the thought that I was the only one responsible for myself was overwhelming rather than empowering. Sometimes, cities felt uncomfortable even when nothing had gone wrong.

There were both good and bad aspects of traveling solo, and I want to be fully honest about that. I’ll probably travel solo again, because it’s really lovely to be entirely in charge of every day, where I choose to go and what I do there. It also forces me out of my comfort zone at times, which is really important to me. It helped push me to meet new people and make choices independently.

However, I’m also going to travel with friends and family in the future. I love sharing these new and incredible experiences with someone I’ve known for a long time, and it’s great to have a friend to reminisce with months and years later. It’s also nice to have someone to help with decisions when I’m not sure what to do, who might suggest something that I’d never think to do on my own! Sometimes, I need someone else to be the first one to laugh in a situation that’s gone off-track, because I can be too uptight when trying to be safe and responsible.

I have meant to go solo for a long time, and I’m so happy that I did. I went solo for the experience of being independent and honestly, just to see what happened. Now, I have more experiences, stories, beautiful photos, journal writing and bragging rights than I ever would have had otherwise. The experience I had was uniquely mine, and I am thankful for it.