Don’t pity the solo traveler. Traveling solo is fun!

Recently over the long weekend, I went solo to Washington DC to check out the museums and enjoy the city on my own. At the entrance to one of the museums, the security guard was helping groups of people who were traveling together through the security check. When it was my turn, he asked me “How many?”. “Just one,” I said. He said “Awwww šŸ˜¦ “

While meant in good faith, his reaction was a bit of a surprise to me. Was traveling solo something to be sad about? Was there an assumption that if you’re traveling solo, it’s not by choice but because you’re all alone and have no one else to travel with? šŸ˜€

I think there’s a general narrative often times that the only way to travel and experience things is with someone else / other people – a friend, a partner, your family. And while traveling with other people is certainly a lot of fun, traveling solo is in a class of its own, and should not be dismissed! I’ve often found that my experience of a place is very different when I’m traveling solo and when I’m traveling with someone else. You can’t really say one is better than the other. They’re just different. When you’re traveling by yourself, I think you spend more time lingering at places and activities that appeal more to you. You tend to become more aware of and in tune with your surroundings. Your primary focus is on the place around you, and it’s not split between the place and the people you’re with. You start noticing things that perhaps you might have missed otherwise.

Taking in the streets of Istanbul from a cafe

There’s an assumption that traveling solo can be boring. That is not true! There’s nothing stopping you from exploring a place yourself at your heart’s content, and really do the things that interest you, without having to worry about whether they’re interesting to the other person. You can use your hobbies and interests to create your own personalized itinerary. Traveling solo is a way for you to spend time with yourself, in a foreign environment where you can no longer rely upon your routines and rituals, and instead having to figure things out on the fly. I find that traveling solo helps me become much more in tune with myself. Worth trying!

And don’t get me wrong – I love traveling with friends and family šŸ™‚ Traveling with someone enables us to share beautiful moments and places with people we care about. Of course that’s amazing! But don’t dismiss solo travel. I wish I can do more of it in my life!

If you’re curious about solo travel, try reading Vagabonding by Rolf Potts. It’ll certainly inspire you!

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