by Kate Convissor
Not so long ago, the solo woman traveler was an oddity, sometimes encountering incomprehension, cultural prohibitions and inconvenience. While these challenges still exist in some places, the world is more open than ever to women traveling solo. There are even advantages to traveling as a single female.
I traveled for a year alone throughout the U.S. During this time of intense, open-ended travel, I discovered the joy of traveling alone.
Here are the top 5 advantages to traveling solo that are on my list.
– Confidence. The more you challenge yourself; the more you stretch yourself, the bigger your world becomes. You can learn how to navigate in a strange city, build a campfire, learn a language. Overcome one obstacle, and you meet the next more confidently. Now, when seeds of self-doubt spring up, I remind myself, Well, you’ve come this far, what’s the big deal?
– Time for reflection and self-knowledge. The beauty of solo travel is time. Time to be alone; time to reflect; time to test yourself. Granted, sometimes that’s uncomfortable. Sometimes, you simply feel lonely and awkward, but recognizing those feelings and learning to overcome them is all part of the process. You get to know yourself in a new way, test yourself in new situations. After weeks of camping in remote places, I felt steeped in peaceful silence. I felt refreshed. How often do we allow ourselves to really be alone?
– No one to “filter” your experience. When you travel with a companion, however compatible, you see the world, in part, through your companion’s eyes. Your attention is split between your experience and perspective and those of your companion. When you travel alone, your focus is undivided. You can be more engaged in and more attentive to the place you’re in.
– Traveling on your own terms–no compromise, no catering. Wake up early; sleep until noon. Eat at the corner greasy spoon; dine with linen and china. When you travel solo, not only is your experience unfiltered by the perspective and opinions of your companion, but you can create the journey that reflects your style and preferences, right down to the details. You can be spontaneous without accounting for anyone else’s feelings. This trip is your blank canvas. Start painting!
– Meeting people more easily. As a single woman you’re approachable. You aren’t intimidating. Plus, you can more easily enter the often hidden feminine world of the household–the kitchen, the garden, the nursery. You can interact with the women around you. As an older single woman, I tend to be invisible as well and less a target for unwanted male attention. That’s a refreshing development. In North America, I’ve found that people are generally helpful and even protective. After a year of camping, sometimes in very remote areas, I’ve never been hassled. Occasionally, I even stumbled across couples who are mature and evolved enough to welcome my company. I’ve made some great friends this way.
Kate Convissor is a writer and teacher who sold her house and plans to travel full-time until, well, she can’t anymore. She blogs about her experience at Wandering Not Lost.