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8 min read

Solo Travel: Journey Alone, Never Lonely

Solo travel isn’t about being alone; it’s about being free to be yourself.

As someone who has never even attended a movie alone in a theater, I feel an innate attraction to the idea of venturing solo into a distant land where nobody knows my name. Strange as it may seem, I cannot imagine this ever happening. I’m married with three kids, and we've raised them all to say ‘YES’ to any opportunity for adventure. They'd undoubtedly give me ‘take me’ eyes, and I’d give in. Still, the freedom that solo travel offers is enticing because, honestly, you’re not alone; you're just on your own.

Although a solo traveler has the spirit of adventure in their veins, having a trip planner assist with the details offers organized direction while still allowing for a sense of freedom in motion. Not surprisingly, women are the most common type of solo traveler in expedition cruise travel for several reasons. Women are connectors. With the desire to see the world, they naturally engage with other like-minded people. Both introverts and extroverts alike find joy in sharing stories and experiencing the newness as one. Additionally, some women’s husbands or partners simply don’t want to travel or can’t break away from work. It’s not uncommon to find groups of single women who meet up and spend time together during the trip. Finally, as one of our most avid solo travelers, Milinda M., states, “As women become more financially independent, more confident, more worldly, they are enjoying all that travel has to offer, and they no longer feel the need to wait for someone to accompany them.”

Milinda’s words ring true on so many elements of what we are finding with female solo travelers. She also goes on to say,

“What I love about solo travel is meeting other people, either locals (because I often hire a guide/plan class, etc.) or other travelers.  I've learned how to walk up to someone sitting alone at a cafe and asking if they'd like company.  I find it's best when I make a few plans to help me settle in to somewhere new, and certainly getting a guide, or planning a local activity, allows me to meet others and learn about their home country and what's best to do.  And truthfully, there are a lot more solo travelers these days who welcome meeting someone else, even if just to share a meal.” 

Personally, I think being on the ocean is a profoundly calming experience. Watching the rhythm of the waves, the sun’s reflections on the water, and the sounds of nature never leave me feeling like I’m missing out on something happening somewhere else. The newer generations call it FOMO—Fear Of Missing Out—but I think for solo travelers, the freedom to do whatever you want, when you want, and possibly having invitations to join others, leaves one feeling that what you want is exactly what you are doing at any given moment, especially on a ship.

Another solo enthusiast who we have been assisting plan trips for years, Judith L. joyfully explains I love to travel solo. It came to about 15 years ago that if I waited for someone to go with me, I wasn’t going to get there so I had to bite the bullet and go on my own.  Fortunately, I really do enjoy my own company and don’t mind being by myself.”

One of the charms of traveling solo is that you make all the decisions without needing to collaborate on the needs and wants of others. "Eat when you’re hungry, sleep when you’re tired" is the mantra. Accounting for only one budget is a perk that makes solo travel affordable. We love what Judith says about the actual travel day: “I only have to consider my budget and no one else’s. I can entertain myself with the latest book, a Netflix show, or a jigsaw puzzle. The waiting for flights is never an issue. I don’t have to be involved in a conversation or feel like I have to be good company for someone else. On the flip side, I have entered into some great conversations with strangers. People who travel always have good stories and suggestions on how to make your bucket list longer! Sometimes just commenting on the book they are reading can get you into all kinds of conversations.”

It's not a secret that cruise travel is a popular mode for going solo, yet small ships offer the opportunity to meet others since a passenger count of less than 200 creates a sense of community on board. Judith remarks, “I have many 'Travel Buddies' I have met over the years and have been able to develop a network of like-minded dear friends to plan trips with. They are from all over the place. I have met all of them on small ship expeditions. I don’t think I would have developed such wonderful relationships if I was traveling with family or friends. I would tend to concentrate on the people I am with rather than opening up to others. Being introverted, it is a huge bonus to sit down for dinner with strangers and get up knowing you have made a new friend. It is great for me to get out of my comfort zone and meet new people with all kinds of experiences, travel tips, new places to go, and discuss the latest movie or book.”

When it comes to easing any nerves about solo travel, using an expert in the specific field of travel is crucial. Milinda mentions, “I was very nervous about my first cruise as a solo traveler, wrongly thinking that most cruisers are couples or families. This is where working with an expert, like Ashton, makes all the difference. I explained my desire to find other solo travelers and he helped identify the best cruise for this. In fact, I fell in with a group of solo travelers on Day One, and we really created our own community on board the ship. This experience taught me that selecting the right location and mode of transport really can make the difference when traveling solo. It helps to talk with someone who has expertise and/or has been to the destination.”

We particularly appreciate hearing commentary from one of our favorite solo guests, Alissa A. who tells us, "On my very first trip with Expedition Trips to Borneo I met a woman that I now consider a close friend and that I travel with often. She lives in Georgia, and I live in Oregon, and we have never seen each other except in an airport, a foreign country or on a ship. We have great fun telling people how we originally met when they ask. Because of our common interests, relative freedom since we are both retired, and similar resources to work with, we often agree quite easily on places or trips that we'd like to take together. We both like to travel in our own suites on the ship, and we get help from Expedition Trips to find cruises that have a no solo supplement. It’s very special to meet someone who lives in a different place with a different culture and find that we have so much in common." Through these words, I am reminded of a mantra that my family often says in encouragement -- feel the fear and do it anyway. Alissa reconfirms this when she says, "women tend to reach out and look for new ways of living their life which is really invigorating to be around. I also think women in general are seeking ways of connecting with one another in their lives and going on a group expedition is an excellent way to get and feel connected." Knowing this connection mentality is supported is part of the reason solo travelers plow forward with their dreams.

If traveling solo has been on your mind for some time, but taking that step seems daunting, utilizing our services will help smooth your concerns. Think of it as having a partner in anticipation. You get to chat with us about your travel desires, research alongside us, and search for the best rates with our help. Then, we’ll book your trip and follow along, ensuring every detail is adhered to, even being available to you during your trip should anything occur that you need help with.

We’ll wrap up by quoting Judith again when she exclaims, "Traveling by yourself is always enlightening and leaves you richer for the experience. There is nothing lonely about being alone!!!"

Thank you, Judith. I think I’ll start out by going to see a movie now.