The Beauty Of Traveling Alone

Post image for The Beauty Of Traveling Alone

This post comes from our contributor Kristen Hedges.

I’ve always been a wallflower. I thrive on background noise and body language. And I don’t need much to be happy – only a pen, some paper, and a comfortable place to sit. So it doesn’t strike me as strange that I’ve always preferred traveling alone (for short trips, at least).

traveling alone

traveling alone

Last weekend, I found myself flying from Texas, to the smoldering desert of California for a yoga & music festival. My husband drove me to the airport, helped me to sling a small pack over my shoulder, and kissed my goodbye.

When I arrived to the retreat center in Joshua Tree, my notebook pages were already bleeding through to both sides with stories of the airport, a dirty plane, the car rental waiting lounge. I adjusted the bag on my back and checked in at the gate.

traveling alone

“Anyone else checking in with you?” A woman asked, squinting up at me through the afternoon sun.

“No, just me,”

“Brave, aren’t you?” She raised her eyebrows and laced a festival pass around my wrist.

“I guess,” I said, “But it really is lovely traveling alone.”

Often, I find that folks are a bit frightened to travel without at least one companion. They think that, for some reason, they will have less fun, or that the whole experience won’t matter as much if it hasn’t been properly shared.

traveling alone

But cultivating a sense of comfort and adventure with my own Spirit has been one of the most beautiful things I’ve come to experience. When I travel alone, I often learn more about myself (about my perfect imperfectness, my flaws, the things I need to let go of, the things I need to embrace) than I would have if I had wrangled someone to come along with me.

Traveling alone, I’ve made lifelong friends, and strengthened the relationships with my loved ones back home. And above all, I’ve honored a sacred relationship with myself (which, as it turns out, is the most important connection I’ll ever have).

I don’t feel that I’m brave. I feel connected. Empowered. Centered.

traveling alone

traveling alone

So, buy a round-trip ticket to the place you’ve always wanted to see. Pack lightly, if you can. Bring a notepad, some pens, an open mind, an open heart. Accept and honor every person that you meet, every experience you collect. And when you get back (if you ever get back), tell others of your adventures and take pride in the fact that you traveled alone.

Or, keep the entire memory to yourself, forever pressed between the pages of a notebook. This time, it’s only up to you.

traveling alone

Have you traveled alone? And if not, where will you take yourself first?

You can find Kristen here, and at facebook.com/withonlylove.

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Comments

LamentingLizzie -May 26, 2014, 9:07AM

Yes, I have traveled alone. I was nervous at first, but quickly those feelings subsided. Because it was for an internship in Argentina, I did have roommates waiting for me there, but they were strangers, so it was still an adventure. When I was not working on my very part time job, free time was my own. It was lovely. I agree with your points – you learn so much about yourself when traveling alone.

JerseyJ -May 26, 2014, 9:15AM

I went to Hawaii alone for my 30th birthday last year and to NOLA this year. I LOVE traveling alone. It may seem selfish but when traveling alone, the only person I have to worry about keeping entertained or just not bored, is me. So if I want to just sit on the beach all day in Waikiki or in the sculpture garden at NOMA, it’s completely okay and like the writer stated, the memories are all mine. I lost my Hawaii pics a few months after coming home, but I can still vividly remember the bright red dirt at the pineapple plantation and the insane views from the top of Diamondhead Crater.

Anonymous -May 26, 2014, 9:45AM

What a lovely post. Sums up what I feel about traveling. Thank you!

Ramona -May 26, 2014, 9:51AM

Yes I have traveled alone and I love it. It is exactly like you write. You experience things through your eyes only and your internal world and imagination is so much more in focus. You make time to think and process things and deal with some that need healing.

Erika -May 26, 2014, 2:39PM

I went to Australia all by myself and stayed there for 8 whole months. Then I went to Hong Kong for a week, also by myself. I definitively agree with you that it’s the most exciting way to travel. I discovered new things about myself and learned a lot from my trips. And I get to decide what I want to do, without anyone else complaining, and you meet so many new and interesting people. I have booked a surf trip to Portugal in August, and I’m really looking forward making new memories that I can share with my friends when I get home again! Great inspirational post!

Ashley -May 26, 2014, 7:48PM

Thank you for posting this! I’ll be traveling alone this summer to Austria to visit my boyfriend and his family. I’ve flown alone plenty of times but flying alone internationally has been a frightening thought for me. This was just what I needed to read to put things into perspective and look forward to this adventure I’m going to embark on.

Britt -May 26, 2014, 8:30PM

I’m absolutely hedging around the idea of traveling by myself. All my life I’ve gone somewhere where there is family. Sure I’ve “traveled” by myself, but there was always family waiting at the other end to pick me up at the airport or show me around town. I’ve never properly traveled solo, but I would like to, I just can’t decide where to start! I have a list and I haven’t quite narrowed it down to one place yet [I'm at like, three places]. But I’ll get there!

Emily -May 26, 2014, 8:58PM

I love this! I currently just traveled to Colorado to visit my Father. I will be flying by myself on Saturday back to Texas.

Jaime -May 26, 2014, 9:19PM

I want to travel so bad it hurts! It seems the only/easiest way for me to do it will be to go alone, which is crazy nerve-wracking to me! I’ve never even been away from home without my parents except for really short trips just a few states away. But reading this has calmed my nerves somewhat. :) I’ve been becoming more self-aware and interested in discovering more of myself, and everything you’ve written about using solo-travel as a way to connect with yourself makes sense. It’s definitely out of my comfort zone, but they say that that’s where the magic happens. Thanks for writing this article!

Megan -May 27, 2014, 12:45AM

I didn’t find travelling alone scary at all, people suggested I was crazy basically but it was the greatest thing I’ve ever done. I went from Canada to Switzerland, Netherlands, Italy, and France. I never felt like I wasn’t safe and the best thing about traveling solo is not having to abide by anyone’s schedules or plans but your own :) thanks for writing!

Amy -May 27, 2014, 12:59AM

I’m currently in Thailand teaching English and I embarked on this journey all by myself. Terrifying at the beginning to say the least, but even two weeks into it I’m already learning so much about myself and who I am, I’m so happy I did this. Learning to be balanced and centered is a struggle for me, but I am already leaps and bounds where I would be if I never made the jump to do this.

Follow my journey here: http://www.ameliaskinner.blogspot.com

http://www.instagram.com/amy_skinner

Anne -May 27, 2014, 3:44AM

Great story! I’ve travelled alone to Cairo, Surinam, The Gambia, Berlin, and loved it! I often bring a book about the joys of traveling an indeed a notebook. Can’t wait to go travel alone to Nepal this fall.

Zayra -May 27, 2014, 4:57AM

i travelled alone for the first time a few weeks ago and it was such an enlightening experience! i was went to berlin for an art conference and despite following the scheduled events, i also managed to find time to explore the rest of the city. as i was alone, i found that i was more open to make conversation with strangers and get out of my comfort zone of being the shy person who waits for people to approach them. because of this i have such a soft spot for berlin because i found that i became more comfortable with myself as a person :)

Kat -May 27, 2014, 5:32AM

Last year I moved to Berlin by myself. I didnt know anyone, any german, what I was doing, or where I was going. Everyone thought I was crazy (and still do hehe ^_^) I just followed this fluttery feeling in my heart and that feeling brought me to find myself, enchanting experiences, wonderful friends, and the love of my life. Now I feel it again, and Im following my heart wings to New Zealand. Never stop journeying… you never know what it might bring you. :)

Lindsay -May 27, 2014, 7:05AM

I traveled from California to Germany completely alone at the beginning of May. No agenda, no set plans except for a place to stay when I first got here. That way, the rest is up for destiny. I don’t plan on going back anytime soon ;)

Yoshita -May 27, 2014, 8:35AM

I went to Dortmund on my own in February. I went to see a football game there, again on my own (I love football). The day before, on Valentine’s Day, I had gone to explore the town and ended up walking the highway to the stadium and I went on a stadium tour and it was all in German. I didn’t understand a word of it and was the only one there who was on her own and not German. I loved every minute of my trip there and now on every Valentine’s Day, I can remind myself and other people around me (who want to listen of course) about my memories in beautiful Dortmund. I definitely will go back there and won’t hesitate to go on a solo trip again, wherever it would be.

Juliette Laura -May 27, 2014, 11:05AM

I love this, I love traveling alone, true peace is feeling comfortable alone.

http://juliettelaura.blogspot.com/

Alannah -May 28, 2014, 12:41AM

Beautiful photos!

Sarah -May 28, 2014, 11:10AM

I had a friend drop out 2 weeks before our big trip overseas. I had my ticket already, so I took a deep breath and went alone. I ended up meeting my husband, moving countries and having an entirely different life to what would have been if I had just stayed home. That was over 20 years ago now, and I have no regrets at all that I got on that plane alone and a little scared such a long time ago.

Abriana -May 28, 2014, 5:33PM

Maybe you’ll post a traveling playlist next.

Natalia -May 29, 2014, 5:12AM

I’ve travelled around a lot with my boyfriend, but it wasn’t until last year I went on my first solo trip. I flew to the absolute opposite side of the world to beautiful Sweden. I escaped Australia’s winter to re-unite with my childhood friend. First we danced around the maypole for the midsummer festival in the archipelago and made flower wreaths with fresh flowers we picked around the island. We then went to Stockholm city so I could see some of these huge old pirate ships she constantly spoke about and so I could venture around the bohemian part of town, södermalm. After, I took a solo trip to Visby, on the island of Gotland, to soak in some Viking history. There I stumbled onto Adelsgatan, a street of boutique stores with the most gorgeous linen long flowing lace-up dresses by local designers. I finished my solo trip up north in Norhassel where I saw the midnight sun and enjoyed schnappes and krusbär with her family for her grandparent’s 60-year anniversary. I was so afraid to go alone but I can’t recommend it enough!

Luna -May 29, 2014, 11:41AM

This was such a coincidental post for me! I have had the idea of traveling alone for…what seems like forever…but never actually gave it a try, and this just gave me a bit more of a push.

Melanie -June 6, 2014, 3:27PM

Im currently planing a solo trip up north from central ca to Oregon + Washington!!

Does anyone have any special places that I would have to check out or some cool spots to hike!?
Im driving up with my husky :)

Thank you!!

@Seven__Seas

Meghan -June 9, 2014, 3:02PM

When I was 22 I traveled alone to Morocco for 2 weeks. Sure, it was rather extreme I must admit and everyone in my family thought I was crazy. I’m not sure if I can even describe what it was like but it changed my life forever. This article is making me look back and analyze and retrieve wisdom from my experience and the people I connected with.

Sjoukje -July 20, 2014, 2:38PM

Love this post. I am always with someone when I travel but I’d love to go Barcelona, one day, on my own. I have been there – once, and it was lovely, but I’d just love to explore, see, experience the city on my own. x
http://www.lemontierres.com

Anonymous -July 23, 2014, 1:51AM

Have you ever considered what it is like travelling alone as a woman who in underprivileged….a woman who doesn’t get a ride to the airport, a flight, a rental car? As a woman who has travelled cross-country by hitchhiking, freight train, and, when I’m lucky, the greyhound, I recognize that the serenity of travelling alone is tempered by a very real vulnerability. The problem with Free People is that they celebrate the whimsical free spirit without recognizing that getting to experience ‘freedom’ (whatever exactly that means), to be spontaneous and crazy and live an exciting beautiful life is made exponentially easier because of class privilege. The world isn’t one big vacation for all of us, and the trade-offs of being a woman, travelling alone, can be pretty brutal.

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