The first time I travelled solo was to Paris. My boyfriend suddenly had to cancel the first 3 days of our holiday because of work, leaving me to head to The City of Light alone. I had reservations. I um’d and ah’d over whether to change my stay, but I also wondered if this would be a great opportunity for quality me time. Sure, I didn’t speak the language. How would I get around? What would I do all day? Would I be safe? Yet, with a sort of “Oh sod it” attitude I hopped on the train.
Being alone for those 3 days was magical. I got up when I wanted, wandered the streets and took a million photos. I visited pastry shops for breakfast, had a glass of wine at an outside café, watching people go by and hopped on the Metro, and navigated my way to the Eiffel Tower all by myself. Sure, I butchered the language but I laughed it off.
When it came to dinner time though, there was that slight feeling of dread. Was it OK to eat dinner in a restaurant alone? I looked up a restaurant with a bar area and went there, so I could eat at the bar and not feel as intimidated. I found myself chatting for hours with the bar staff and not once feeling alone. Since that first solo trip years ago I’ve travelled solo many more times. And while sometimes I do crave other people’s company, I find travelling by myself very satisfying.
The Benefits of Travelling Solo
I want to stress that however much people bang on about their gap year and travelling around the world on their own, solo travel doesn’t have to be this long-winded month at a time affair. Solo travel can be as little as a weekend away by yourself. It’s simply about making time for yourself and enjoying exactly what you want.
One of the greatest benefits I’ve found while travelling solo is the feeling of independence. Sure, it sounds whimsical and the stuff of Instagram quotes, but being by yourself, doing exactly what you have chosen that day, is powerful. Plus, having a glass of wine in a bar by myself just makes me feel all Beyoncé #IndependentWoman-like.
Being by yourself means you’re in control, you can do whatever you want. Do you normally find if you go away with friends that someone takes over and you don’t go to the museum you wanted to because “it’s boring?” Well, as a solo traveller you can spend all day there. Do you want to set up your tripod and wait patiently for that perfect crash of waves to capture it? You can wait all day without annoying someone else.
All of that being said, travelling solo does mean you have to take control. You have to make decisions as there is no one else to fall back on. Being by yourself forces you to take action, which is something you will take back with you once you return home.
Solo travelling boosted my confidence. It will make you feel brave and powerful. You’ll fist pump the air when you’ve managed to navigate the crazy public transport or successfully asked for a coffee with 5 sugars in another language. You’ll come away from travelling solo knowing that you and with no one’s help, are able to make things happen.
I’m not saying ditch all company and go all ‘Solo 4 life’ on me, but I’m a firm advocate for believing in yourself. Spending time on you, not in a materialistic way, but in a way that will make you feel happy and loved, is one of the most important things you can do for yourself.
Whilst it may seem scary, why not book a short trip to somewhere near, maybe to another city? It’s the best leap I ever made, and now I look forward to you making the same.
Laura Hyatt is a 20 something year old City girl and blogger. Balancing a corporate career and the travel and lifestyle blog, Heroine in Heels, she blogs about having it all. Good travel, food, fashion all whilst having a demanding job.