We've come a long, long way together
Through the hard times and the good
I have to celebrate you baby
I have to praise you like I should.
Solo Traveler is five years old this week and I have two special posts to mark the occasion.
In this first, I want to celebrate you – with a little help from Fatboy Slim.
I want to celebrate your stories. Especially your first-time traveling solo stories which many people shared on the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. They are such an inspiration. From the 18-year-old who bought a ticket to the other side of the world and went without a plan to the 61-year-old who took her first trip to Europe solo and “cried when seeing Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower the first time” to the 70-year-old who toured Mexico solo by bus on a whim.
Your stories are wonderful. They raise goose bumps. They are the reason that Praise You had to be the tune to accompany this post. The lyrics are simple and perfect for the occasion.
But there is one more reason that I chose Praise You. This song is the creation of Fatboy Slim but not original in a traditional sense. He sampled parts of Take Yo' Praise by Camille Yarbrough, Disney's It's a Small World, and even the theme from the cartoon series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.
Praise You is the result of many creative minds.
Solo Traveler is the result of contributions from many as well. Without you it would be nothing. Without you we wouldn't have a new destination to learn about every Tuesday. Without you we wouldn't have an inspiring pic every Thursday. Without you we wouldn't support each other with travel information, inspiration and advice on the Solo Travel Society every Monday and Thursday. Without you we couldn't have created the free Solo Traveler Accommodation Guide. Without you, Solo Traveler would be a mere shadow of itself.
Solo Travel Stories: For Those Who Love, and Those Who Dream Of, Traveling Alone
Many people still wonder whether they can travel solo. In celebration of you and to demonstrate that it is most certainly possible, I asked for your solo travel first on Facebook. Here are your stories…
- Fon – I had never been traveling alone for my whole life but after I accidentally found this blog I decided to try it. Next month I'll start my first solo trip. Thanks so much for this inspiration.
- Deborah – I was a late bloomer as far as travel goes. I took my first solo trip to Nassau, Bahamas when I was 34. I was nervous at first. But I got there and made so many travel friends. I had a glorious time. I haven't stopped travelling yet and I'll be 64 soon. Planning another big trip around the world. Retired now and will live on the “road” until I decide to come back.
- Massy – I had my first experience of solo travel just last November. I went to Japan. I am an introverted person and I get very self-conscious about myself (seriously). On 1st Jan 2013 I posted on my Facebook page the “2013 mission to Japan”. On my birthday in July 2013, I bought a ticket as a gift for myself. I got a lot of questions from friends because no one really went solo. I made it to Tokyo, Osaka & Kyoto. It was the most worthwhile and enjoyable experience. How communication clash and cultural differences bring people together. It's just an amazing journey. I learned so much. Met new people. What a journey! It's addictive.
- Victoria – I was 18 and bought a one-way ticket to the other side of the world, with no idea when I would return..
- Yvonne – I was 47, desperate for a long break from my job in Adelaide. I bought a Bike Friday NWT (see photo below), and set off without any concrete plans! After some self-convincing, I cycled from Hue to Ho Chi Min City in Vietnam, then into Cambodia, Thailand and joined friends for a holiday seeing Laos at handlebar height (Grasshopper Adventures). Looking back, I am not entirely sure how I had the confidence to take this on. I had some amazing mentors who assured me I could! (thanks Jason and Sharon) 3 months of assessing where I was at, finding out how much I loved cycle touring and the adventures began…love traveling with friends but just as happy traveling solo with my bike.
- Shelly – I was 61 years old and decided to take a two week solo trip to Paris, after a friend and I couldn't agree on a European itinerary. It was my first trip to Europe and my first solo trip. I cried when seeing Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower the first time. There is something very intimate about sightseeing solo. I was so thankful and happy that I didn't have to share these moments with others
- Wendy – I went on my first solo trip to Fukuoka and Kyoto early this month. It was an experience I will remember and definitely look forward to repeating! The people I met along the way and the life lessons made the holiday very special! I don't think I would have been as forward with strangers if I hadn't been alone.
- MG -I went to Puerto Vallarta and I was depressed. Then I met new friends at the hotel. I didn't expect to end my vacation having so much fun. This is one good thing about traveling solo. You get to meet new friends that you wouldn't have if you were in a group.
- Mandy – My first official solo trip was in 2010, I took a road trip from my home in Southern Pennsylvania up to Bar Harbor, Maine. I took about 2 weeks to complete it- short and sweet for my first solo trip. It was an incredible time! This Fall, I will be making my way to Europe for a two-month solo backpacking adventure. I have been to Europe many times, but never solo. I am hoping for one of the greatest experiences of my life!
- Kathy – Car trips are my passion…. On my last trip I forgot my book on tape… It was wonderful. Instead of getting lost in a book I got lost in the trip. I turned on my music and enjoyed the country I was driving through. I stopped at every fruit stand and wonder I could find. I don't think I will be bringing my books on tape on any more car trips.
- Leslie – I had just gotten my professional designation, which took 7 years of exams (post-college) and I wanted to do something big to celebrate. I love to travel, but several of my friends said they couldn't get the time off or couldn't afford to go somewhere too far away. I finally decided I shouldn't be held back just because no one could travel with me, so I booked a camping safari in Tanzania! I love animals and an African safari had always been one of my dreams. Surprisingly I wasn't that scared to get on a plane and fly halfway around the world by myself (and to a Third World country, no less)…it was exciting! I learned that I'm much more self-sufficient than I thought and that traveling alone can be fun and very rewarding. Now that I know I can travel alone and be just fine, I feel like the possibilities are endless!
- Josephine – I first went solo in 2011, before turning 70 that November, On a whim while visiting relatives in San Diego I asked them to take me to the bus station so I could head for Mexico. I spent July to October traveling through Mexico- Mexico City ,Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Puerto Escondido, Chihuahua , El Fuerte, Mazatlan, Chiapas, Morella Oaxaca Tuxtla, Taxco, Acapulco, San Cristobal de Las Casas – all of these places by bus. Nothing like Greyhound which is 3rd class compared to Mexico's luxury liners that seat 24 in reclining seats and have male/female toilets. This trip changed my perception of Mexico. I have greater respect for the country, its people and the culture. I have since traveled solo to Europe and Morocco. I was surprised how easy it is to connect to people when you go solo and thankfully I have not had any negative experiences at all. I would still advise anyone to listen to their instincts and not go against them. Yes Facebook keeps you connected to people you meet. I encourage women to travel more and doing it solo really enriches your experience.
- Nathaniel – My first solo trip was to India. Needed to get lost for a while, so I spun a globe, put my finger down, and landed on India. I only planned to spend two weeks there, but spent four months. The most magical moment on the trip was on the Leh-Srinigar highway. It was dawn, the bus was slipping on the icy road, and the sun was rising over the Zoji La. Kashmir by Led Zeppelin was playing on my headphones. And I thought the bus was going to fall off the cliff.
- Jenell – September 2013 I packed up a very small backpack and went to Europe, landing in Athens, then on to Rome, Barcelona, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and finally London before heading back home to Toronto. This trip became a gateway for many more solo travel adventures including the Philippines this past January, Mexico last week and Peru the first week of May. The more I read STS posts, the more I get excited and encouraged to keep traveling solo!
- Liliana – My first solo travel was to Puerto Vallarta, a gift that I gave to myself after graduating from college. I met so many people I had so much fun. Love exploring the town by myself. That was 15 years ago and I haven't stop traveling by myself. I have been to 28 countries and most of those trips were by myself.
- Zola – My first earned vacation out of college I booked a week in Mexico. Loved going on an adventure by myself. Learned a few lessons that have useful for my other solo trips I have taken to Bali, Egypt, and Thailand.
- Angela – My first international solo was in '92 to west coast USA. At that time was still using 35mm film. I started in Hawaii then on to San Francisco, up to San Jose, Portland, Seattle Vancouver B.C. and then down to Reno. And I was in Hawaii for the 4th of July. The island literally came to standstill for fireworks displays
- Eric – My first real solo trip was Fiji in 2005… I figured if I was going alone, then why not the opposite side of the earth. On one particular side trip, I went with a fellow solo traveler I met at the resort to a somewhat out of the way remote beach adjacent to a village where locals greeted us with great enthusiasm. There was a bit of a cultural misunderstanding with one nice fellow who accompanied us while snorkeling. After we were done, he demanded money for his services as a “guide”. It was a bit of a heart racing moment as several other locals looked disapprovingly at us for resisting the notion of giving him money. In the end, we scraped together a few Fijian dollars for him to diffuse the situation. (Kind of hard not to when surrounded by several village elders). We never felt threatened. But there was definitely an attempt to shame us. An amazing trip overall with a lesson learned about communicating up front with locals who try to tag along. The photo is of a local fellow washing his horses.
- Sharon – My first solo trip was a week in Paris in 2011. I met people from all over the world! I got good at asking people to take pictures of me at different sites ( I still have to master the selfie). I loved just watching Parisians live their lives. I saw lots of great art.
- Thanatcha – I don't have lots of stories from my first time. It’s just that I really wanted to go so I checked my savings then booked a ticket and went to Phuket. I didn’t know anything about that place but got lots of experiences. I got lost, LOL, but then stayed in the little beautiful hostel. I didn’t know much, I just felt like yeah this is my way, this is what I always seek for. Hahahah! So now I just can’t stop exploring. By the way this is my first pic (below) as a solo backpacker.
- Jessica – My first big solo trip was to New York, two years ago when I was 24. It was something I'd dreamed about doing for years and I finally had enough money so I decided to just go for it. At first it was nerve racking being in a foreign country by myself but after a couple of days I felt like I belonged there. I had an amazing time just wandering the streets for hours, soaking up the energy of the city, chatting to different people and doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I just got back from another solo trip to Paris which was also a great experience and I'm planning many more solo adventures over the next couple of years
- Luz – My first solo trip was a two weeks break from work to Costa Rica, it was really good, when I came back home I had a dream I was flying over the Christ of Redeemer in Brazil. I had this strong weird feeling then of wanting to experience and see more of this world, but as a single mom with a full time job I thought it was “impossible”at that time. Well, now that my wonderful kid is out in college, I decided to fill my “empty nest” syndrome with my dreams…so far, so good. Is there any explanation for this wanderlust feeling? Why some people feel it and some don't?
- Brenda – My first solo trip was taking the Greyhound around the East Coast of the USA and including Chicago and my latest trip this year by myself was around Agra and Rajasthan in India and it was amazing
- Judy – Have been traveling full time alone in my 35ft RV for the past 7 years. But I'm taking my first sorta solo trip to Peru today. It will be with a group on an Amazon River cruise, but I won't meet my group until I arrive in Lima.
- Heidz – My plan was to save dollars and later go on a trip. I was Googling for a project when I stumbled upon a cheap return fare to London – under $500-flew from LAX in 2008. First, I joked with my mom that I found a great deal to the UK and asked her if I could travel there. She said “Yes” only if I go w a friend or sibling(s). I had never traveled abroad alone or with a group before. Because it would take some time to get a final decision from my sister or friend(s), I decided to buy the tickets right away before they were gone! It was my very first solo trip. I spent my first Spring Break abroad! I spent 5days in London visited Windsor, Oxford and Stonehenge on my own and spent under $1000 including airfare. Since then I started traveling alone and saving money. A few years later, I went to France and this time I used couchsurfing. I had attended local events but never tried it when traveling. I found Solo Traveler for safety tips. I met awesome locals and travelers on my journey who offered help, directions, recommendations and translation. It was an experience of a lifetime!
- Gaelyn – First solo road trip across the US almost 40 years ago will stand out in my mind forever. Lived in a Vega with a dog for almost 2 months. Haven't stopped traveling since.
- Suzanne – I was 25 when I flew to Vancouver from OZ. I didn't know anyone. I stayed a couple of months and made many friends. Went to Alaska and made my way down to Mexico. Away about 6-months for $4000 back in 1980. Lots of good memories. I couldn't afford it now as just sailing the inside passage to Alaska costs a fortune.
- Shelley – I was 26 went to Europe in winter and planned to spend forever and a day…..loved it
- Shari – I drove 3723 miles from Seattle to L.A. then to Florida with only 2 ferrets and a cat. 600 miles a day then holed up in a hotel/motel at night. At first I was scared, but I blogged my whole trip to Facebook friends and family, via iPhone so everyone would know where I was. I felt empowered and fearless when I hit Florida, then continued South. Ferrets loved it. The cat still hates me.
Maybe you have a solo travel first to share. Please do so in the comments.