Guest blogger, Betsy Talbot, is the author of Strip Off Your Fear: Slip Into Something More Confident in which she writes about gaining confidence as a woman. She knows lots about solo travel and couple travel. She and her husband Warren have been traveling together since 2010 and write about Living the Good Life on Married with Luggage.
“I can’t go into a restaurant by myself!”
Have any of your friends ever said something like this to you? I know I heard it a lot in my single days, and I wondered how those people managed to eat out, go to the movies, or take vacations.
Then I realized: They don’t.
When you wait around for life to be just right before you start enjoying it, you cheat yourself out of some really fantastic experiences and personal growth opportunities. Travel is at the top of the list for both, and there is plenty of room out there for solo travelers.
As someone who has done quite a bit of solo travel before and is now partnered, I have seen it from both sides. We’ve been traveling full-time now since 2010, and in that time I’ve met many solo travelers of all ages and they all have some things in common:
Whether they had it before they left or gained it en route, confidence oozes from these solo travelers. They are not embarrassed by their single status, interests, or budget. You shouldn’t be, either.
My favorite solo traveler of all time is a man from Holland who is bold and adventurous about every single thing he encounters. He has a lust for life and it shows in everything he does, including stripping off his clothes and jumping into the Southern Ocean on his birthday in front of a beach full of shivering onlookers. It only took a little bit of nudging from my husband (“C’mon, I’ll do it with you!”) to get him to do this, and he’ll have a great memory for a lifetime.
Solo travelers are used to making decisions. They don’t wait for someone else to suggest a meal, activity, or destination. It is refreshing to be around someone who expresses an opinion instead of an, “I dunno, what do you want to do?” response.
One of the solo travelers I admire most is a German woman we met in South America. We were there to depart on a long-awaited trip to Antarctica. She just happened to be traveling the country on an extended break and found a deep discount on a trip to Antarctica – if she left the very next day, that is. And I’m glad she did, because we have become good friends since then.
Birds, scenery, history, cooking, arts, culture – whatever the solo traveler is interested in is what she pursues, and because she has no one else’s preference to consider, she can take a deep dive into her preferred subject.
One Canadian solo traveler I know volunteered on an estancia in Argentina through an entire winter. When she emerged, she knew more than she ever thought possible about working a ranch and had near-fluent Spanish. It would be hard to convince a less-than enthusiastic partner to withstand brutal temperatures, hard work, and the limitation of a once-weekly bath to satisfy your curiosity.
Solo Travel as Personal Growth
Solo travel, solo living, and solo entrepreneurship are all ways in which you can expand your confidence, decisiveness, and curiosity at a faster rate than most partnered people. Without a fallback conversational partner, you are more inclined to reach out to new people. Unencumbered by another person’s schedule and preferences, you can take a deeper dive into the subjects that interest you most.
In the bigger picture, you show all those friends who won’t even eat in a restaurant alone how much they are missing by requiring a partner to enjoy business, travel, and life. Besides enjoying your own adventures, you may encourage them to break free from their self-imposed isolation. And wouldn’t that be a great thing.