Why I Embrace Solo Travel
A passion for travel has been embraced by both sides of my family for most of my life. I spent much of my childhood traveling with my maternal family in an RV up and down the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast U.S. to visit family members. My paternal grandparents took me to Disney World a few times during my childhood and also traveled internationally extensively themselves. My maternal grandparents travel quite a bit in their earlier retirement years also. My mother let me take my first international trip at 14 years old with a group of teens to do a service project + perform a play in Europe (Italy) and West Africa (Senegal, Cameroon).
To this day my parents still travel. My mother went on her first trip to Ghana earlier this year and had a lovely experience visiting a West African country for the first time. My father and stepmother had a destination wedding in Jamaica and have planned trips to Jamaica and other Caribbean countries ever since. With that context, it makes sense that I would grow into an adult who loves travel. I did pause on travel during my early twenties because I didn’t have the extra funds.
I took my first trip to Paris five years ago because I finally made enough money to squeeze the trip into my budget and have made it a point to prioritize international travel since then. But planning trips gets tricker with your friends as you get past your early twenties. There’s family commitments, job commitments, weddings/partners/husbands, pregnancies/children, volunteer work, deaths + crises, etc. So many of us have several balls in the air that we’re juggling. Even myself who is single and not even a mother of pets let alone children yet has to really prioritize travel into my budget AND my schedule to make it happen. I fully realize that if I waited to take trips with my future partner, sister-friends, or even my family, I’d be waiting until I had a full head of gray hair. And I don’t want to wait that long to explore some of the cities on my travel bucket list that I’m perfectly OK with experiencing solo. There are some destinations I’d prefer to visit with others or a partner, but there are many that I would happily explore solo.
If I waited to take trips with my future partner, sister friends, even my family, I’d be waiting until I had a full head of gray hair. And I don’t want to wait that long to explore some of the cities on my travel bucket list that I’m perfectly OK with experiencing solo.
For this particular time in my life, I am my top priority. It won’t always be this way, so I want to appreciate this time instead of waiting until I am married with children to travel. I had my first taste of 100% solo international travel last year on trips to Mexico City and Paris and loved it! I also tend to take at least one solo trip to NYC annually. I was able to follow my own schedule, rest when I chose to, see the sights that were at the top of my list, visit places purely for Instagram photos, pick restaurants no one else would be interested in going to, and have early bedtimes. It was delightful to say the least. I even met people along the way on walking tours and in my hotels. The beauty of solo travel is that you can be as social (or anti-social) as you wish. If you want to make friends, it’s not so difficult to do so even if you don’t speak the language of the country you’re visiting (so many people from other places speak English…it’s rather embarrassing that so many of us American’s are not multi-lingual).
And while traveling solo to a whole other country can be super fun with planning, I also relish traveling in groups and had a lovely experience traveling to Marrakech last November with The Runaway Experience. I’ve also done a few trips with a DC based millennial travel meet-up group I’ve been a member of for a few years. I’ve traveled with that group to Spain, South Africa, and my upcoming trip later this month is with that same group (more on that trip in a separate post!). I learn so much about myself with each trip I take whether it’s solo or with others.
For this time in my life, I am my top priority. It won’t always be this way, so I want to appreciate this time instead of waiting until I am married with children to travel.
So as I look at planning trips for next year (my travel plans for this year are locked in), I hope to take at least one solo trip even if it’s just a quick jaunt to a nearby city on the East Coast. But I also relish any girls trips with my friends that pop up, an annual weekend trip with my Mom, and a “baecation” if I happen to have a boyfriend/partner by that point. I always realize that life happens and I’ve had friends back out of trips last minute or never quite follow through with the planning required to make it happen….And that’s ok. Truly. Because if the trip is to a place I definitely want to visit, I’ll make it happen whether I go solo or with others. Because regardless of who I travel with, I’ll have fun along the way on the journey.
Related: First Timer Solo Tips for Women