The Beauty of Solo Travel

The Beauty of Solo Travel

The Beauty of Solo Travel

It was not meant to be a solo trip, but a trip with friends to celebrate surviving one tough year, and ringing in a new year full of excitement and hope. Instead, as it turned out, I would be heading to Europe alone, and while I was used to flying alone, exploring a city alone, and even taking a tour alone, these previous experiences are not what I would consider solo travel. However, the trip to Europe that I was about to embark on was exactly that.

There would be no group to meet up with when I arrived, no friends I knew who lived in the city, no one waiting for me when I got back to my room; I would be completely and entirely alone.

A selfie in Park GΓΌell

Solo travel is always something I have considered, but this was unexpected and at first, the word alone bothered me. It was further confirmation that I was in fact alone. I tried to shake it off, but the previous months’ events played out in my head, and the thought of being alone in a season where loved ones were supposed to be together upset me. I knew I could do it, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to.

I continued to push through the painful thoughts from the past, and attempted to look at the good that was staring straight at me. There was so much, but there was also the unknown, and the fact that I had no real idea what it would be like until I got there. It was both exhilarating and frightening, freeing and anxiety-inducing; I didn’t know how to express exactly what I was feeling.

Luckily, those worries dissipated the moment I stepped off the plane in old, familiar London. I was grateful that I had decided to start the trip in the city I was considering moving to, one that also happened to speak a language I was familiar with. It was the perfect warm up for what lie ahead.

The Beauty of Solo Travel

A feeling of freedom kicked in, and a huge sense of relief washed over me. I was miles away from my problems, with no one but myself to deal with. It was the first time in months that life finally made sense, and the first time in a long while that I was really and truly happy.

As I walked to the tube, I breathed a sigh of relief, and even as I boarded the crowded car, I couldn’t stop smiling. Remember this moment, I reminded myself. It was then that all the good I had been thinking of came rushing to mind; the fact that I could do whatever I wanted, see what I wanted, eat where I wanted, and explore the city all on my own. Suddenly alone was not a scary word, but a welcome one.

This was further confirmed the moment I arrived at The Beaufort Hotel, and after checking in, instead of going out right away, I decided to take a shower and a nap. My room was so lovely, and the bed was calling my name. On the first day of travel, this is something I never do, choosing instead to take advantage of every second. But, after Christmas and traveling, I just wanted to relax, plus London was not a new city for me, and I had just been there in November.

After my nap, I ordered tea to my room and ate scones in bed while watching music videos, then I got dressed and strolled around the neighborhood, making time for some shopping and grabbing a bite to eat. Then, I made my way back to my room for champagne, as The Beaufort offers its guests drinks from five until eleven at night. This is a perk, I just simply had to indulge in.

The Beauty of Solo Travel

The next day was all mine, which is why I took advantage of seeing the inside of a sight I have been meaning to venture into for years. After three previous trips, I finally made it inside Westminster Abbey. The line was long, but it didn’t matter I had nowhere else to be.

While the entire building was stunning, and I roamed throughout it without intention, my favorite part was the Poets’ Corner. As an English major in college and a current English teacher, I was in pure paradise, admiring the names of writers whose works I had read year after year. Again, I was simply happy and could soak up the moment, rather than worrying about someone else’s agenda.

Westminster Abbey

After two days in London, I headed to Barcelona, and by this point I was so happy being alone that nothing could have thrown me off. I arrived and made my way to my GowithOh apartment. I checked in and had the intention of going out, but the apartment was so inviting that I didn’t want to leave. I relaxed on the patio before deciding to head out and stroll around my new neighborhood, picking up a few groceries, including a bottle of wine. Then set out to make a plan for my next few days in the city.

The Beauty of Solo Travel

My days in Barcelona involved a lot of wandering and seeing any sights I could, but I kept it low key and instead of rushing to see it all, I let the city take hold of me. Without plans, I completely and entirely fell in love with the Barcelona, it was impossible not to.

However, of all my days in Europe, New Year’s Eve was by far my favorite. This was the day I was most worried about being alone for, but everything about it was just perfect. During the day, I meandered throughout the streets and picked up the essentials for the night – cava and grapes. Then, I spent the rest of my afternoon on my apartment’s patio writing with a glass of wine.

Then, I decided it was necessary to go out and celebrate. I turned up the music, danced around the apartment drinking cava, and got ready for a date with myself, and what I’d like to think of as a new beginning; it was exactly the kind of night I needed.

The Beauty of Solo Travel

After enjoying my time in the apartment, I took a stroll to the square near my apartment and made my way into one of the restaurants. While it was a bit strange to ask for a table for one at night on New Year’s Eve, I went with it, and it wasn’t as bad as I was anticipating.

Tapas and cava for one.

Since it was New Year’s Eve, I decided to stick with cava and I ordered a few tapas, then finished off my meal with a cappuccino. I enjoyed people watching while I ate, and when I was done, I did a bit more wandering around the streets before heading back to the apartment.

There, I continued to drink the remaining cava and dance before eating my twelve grapes at midnight and listening to the cheers and fireworks from the balcony. I was alone, but not once did it feel that way.

I think that this was the best lesson I could have learned, that solo travel doesn’t equate to loneliness, even on a day when it could be lonely. Instead, I discovered that a little one-on-one time with myself was not only needed, it was refreshing and rejuvenating. The fact that I can stand to be alone with myself in a familiar city, and a brand new one, is enlightening because it means that I love myself enough to be comfortable alone.

The Beauty of Solo Travel

Will I always travel solo? No, I love traveling with others too much, but I will definitely travel solo again, without a doubt in my mind. Solo travel may not be for everyone, but I found it good for my soul. I may not have thought I needed that time alone, but it was exactly what I needed to heal from the past and move on in the new year. This trip gave me courage and a lesson about myself that I will always remember. Sometimes all we need is a little time with ourselves just to realize how wonderful we truly are.

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Comments (47)

  1. Yoshita

    Great post! I myself am going for a solo trip to Germany next month. Although I’m kind of scared (I don’t know German and I know no one over there), I’m actually looking forward to it! I do think we all need a solo trip once or even numerous times in our lives.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks! You are going to have a great time! I didn’t know anyone, or the language, and I made out just fine. In fact, it was almost impossible to leave! πŸ™‚ I agree, everyone definitely needs at least one solo trip in their life.

  2. YalΓ­

    Hi, I’m new here and I just loved this post. I definitely dread being alone around the holidays, but you actually made me want to do it sometime. It actually sounds fun and like you learned a lot. Reading your post is very inspiring. Thanks.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Welcome, YalΓ­! It was such a great experience, and I am someone who doesn’t always love being alone. Glad you felt inspired! πŸ™‚

  3. Melissa - The Mellyboo Project

    Wonderful post, Erin! So proud that you were able to find the beauty of going on your own. Solo travel has so many benefits, and you never truly are alone. I especially loved the last line “Sometimes all we need is a little time with ourselves just to realize how wonderful we truly are.” It’s so true!

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks, Melissa! It was an eye-opening experience for sure. One that I easily fell in love with. πŸ™‚

  4. Charles McCool

    It is exhilarating (to me) to travel somewhere new all by myself. Not sure whether it is because I am a guy, introverted, or whatever. I am so glad you discovered how wonderful you are!

    Oh, and wonderful photos.

    1. The World Wanderer

      I agree, exhilarating is now a word I would use to describe it! A big step for me was traveling to Africa alone and meeting up with a tour group, but this trip to Europe was entirely different.

      Thanks so much for your kind words! πŸ™‚

  5. Joe

    Great post. I think it’s awesome you embraced the opportunity. I love traveling with my wife, we’ve explored a lot in our ten years of marriage. However, I think it’s good to take time to experience things alone sometimes. As a photographer and writer, I enjoy sometimes having days to go out and shoot a location and just get lost with my camera. It also gives you the time to really think and appreciate your surroundings at your own pace.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks, Joe! I agree, sometimes things need to be explored on our own, especially as a writer and photographer. You can let yourself be fully engrossed in a place.

  6. Brittany

    Sounds like a good time. And it gives me confidence to go on my first solo trip in April. That was good that you were a bit familiar with where you traveled. Sometimes solo travel is looked at in a negative light but this shows that it can be wonderful as well.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Where will you be heading in April? So glad this blog gave you confidence! I think it can sound frightening until it’s done. Now I can’t wait to go on another solo adventure. πŸ˜‰

  7. Stef

    Great post! I enjoy both travelling solo and with others too. Both has its advantages and disadvantages. I think everyone should travel solo at least once to see if it is something you like or not. You realize whether you’re comfortable with being alone or not. And in my opinion this is important to know.
    I’m happy you had a great time in London and Barcelona, it really sounds like a good New Year’s and it shows that it doesn’t always have to be a huge party. I think I would be fine with getting to know a new city for New Years as well.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks so much, Stef! I agree that everyone should try it at least once. It’s definitely important to know. At the end, it’s also nice to see how much you’ve accomplished on your own. πŸ™‚

  8. Leah

    I’m happy you found some enjoyment and peace with solo travel. I really love traveling alone. I have nobody else to consider or contend with. It just allows me to get lost in the place I’m visiting. I like traveling with others for a change, but solo travel is probably my favorite. Of course, I also like to go to movies and shop alone.

    1. The World Wanderer

      It’s really a wonderful way to see the world. I love shopping alone too, but I haven’t done the movies yet, haha. That makes me nervous for some reason. One day, I’ll do it!

  9. Lance | Trips By Lance

    I’m not a fan of solo travel, although I will admit I haven’t done it much. I need someone to keep me from drinking too many beers. I think the fact you tackled it over the holidays shows a lot of courage. Good for you.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks, Lance! It wasn’t easy. I hear you on the needing someone. Actually solo travel prevents me from drinking too much, haha.

  10. Karisa

    I love this post, Erin!! I started traveling solo last year and went through a similar emotional journey. I had planned on traveling to Myanmar with a friend and when it turned out that she couldn’t get time off work I was a little sad to be going alone. But, it turned out to be the BEST trip I have ever taken! I felt so liberated being able to travel solo and do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted! I found it to be so empowering too! Now I don’t have to wait for other people to be able to travel with me, I can just go wherever I want to whenever I want to! πŸ™‚

    1. The World Wanderer

      Exactly, Karisa! I actually think that this may be the best part. The fact that we both have the confidence to see the world, whether or not someone can come along with us. So liberating!

  11. Francesca

    I love this post. So genuine and honest. I haven’t done much solo travel but the little I’ve done has boosted my confidence tenfold. I always remind myself of that whenever I’m feeling doubtful. Loved seeing your face in all these photos, too πŸ™‚

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks, Francesca! It was a great learning experience.

  12. Traveling Ted

    You didn’t have to travel solo to find out you are wonderful; I could have told you that. Great that you found out the obvious in a beautiful city. Barcelona would be a great place to travel solo. I hardly ever get lonely while traveling solo whether it is in a city or backpacking by myself in the wilderness. The only place I do not like to travel solo is obvious couple places like the beach. I spent three months traveling solo in SE Asia and the one day I felt lonely was one day in Nha Trang, Vietnam.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Aww, Ted! You’re the greatest. πŸ™‚

      Yes, it was a nice lesson to learn. I agree that an obvious couple place would be a hard place to travel solo. Nha Trang would probably be lonely as a solo traveler, I can definitely see that. It’s one of my favorite places, but I was with two of my friends, and we met lots of groups of people. I’d imagine a tropical island would be the worst!

  13. lola

    you are such a beautiful STAR of a person. i’ve been doing more by myself as of late too. i am such a social butterfly, it’s strange to be alone but from the few times i’ve gone out on my own, i’ve realized i’m never alone for long. i always seem to make friends and that’s one of my favorite things about traveling…new people & new experiences. i’m proud of you for doing all of this and i know it was really good for you. LOVE YOU!!!

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks, friend! So glad to have you in my life. πŸ™‚ It’s nice to be on your own for sure, but you can’t beat time with friends: old and new. <3

  14. Escape Hunter

    Traveling alone can be fun, can be great… you can still meet a lot of people on the road.
    What I love about solo trips is that I don’t have to adjust according to others’ needs and wishes. I can go anywhere I want, whenever I want.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Agreed! I think that could be one of the best parts. πŸ˜‰

  15. D.J. - The World of Deej

    Oddly enough, the one and only day I was ever in London was basically by myself. My travel partner decided he was going to sleep the entire day, and I was left to my own devices. It was fun for a while, good for the soul as you said, but I was happy when he decided to come around. By contrast we went out for St. Patrick’s Day that night and it turned out to be one of the most fun nights of my life. Everything in moderation I guess:)

    1. The World Wanderer

      Couldn’t agree more – moderation is key. I wouldn’t love to travel solo all the time, but it felt good to do it once, and I’d do it again without question. I’m sure St. Patrick’s was a blast!

  16. Annabel

    I’m glad you conquered solo travel! I often travel on my own, mainly for a lack of travel buddies, but I’ve found that I really enjoy it, and love exploring on my own (even if sometimes it’s nice to be with people!). Go you!

    Ps. LOVE your hair. Wish I could tame mine into doing that!

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks, Annabel! Yes, lack of travel buddies is absolutely not a reason to stay home. I am feeling that lately, hence why this trip was solo. πŸ™‚

      It’s taken me years to tame my hair to get it like that. Practice makes perfect? πŸ˜‰ Thanks! xx

  17. Christine

    Hi Erin, I really enjoyed your post. I stumbled upon it on Twitter and I’m glad I did!
    Your solo trip sounds pretty perfect! I’m jealous! I think a solo trip is something everyone should do, not that I have really, yet.
    But Barcelona sounds like the perfect place to do it. I love that you got all dolled up and had a few pre-drinks for your date with yourself!
    I’m off to have a nose around the rest of your blog πŸ™‚

    1. The World Wanderer

      I’m so glad you found me, Christine! It was perfect, I honestly cannot imagine the trip any other way. It wasn’t what I was planning for, but it was definitely something I needed.

      Barcelona was the ideal spot to do it. It’s funny because I didn’t really plan for it, and it all worked out so well. I hope you get on a solo trip one day! πŸ™‚

  18. Jamie @ The Inspired Globetrotter

    “It was the first time in months that life finally made sense” – I can definitely relate to that, I get that feeling as soon as I get on a plane leaving for a new destination.

    Glad you really delved in to solo travel, it can be rewarding, frustrating, lonely but overall character building.

    Happy travels,
    Jamie

    1. The World Wanderer

      Definitely can agree with you on that getting on a plane feeling. Like nothing else in the world. πŸ™‚

  19. Harvey (H-Bomb's Worldwide Karaoke)

    I travel solo all the time; I really do enjoy having complete control over what I’m going to see and how long I can spend at any particular location. And, as a fellow blogger, you can appreciate this: when you are traveling solo, you don’t have to worry about being rude if you want to spend some time writing a post or sending a bunch of tweets. And depending on where you go, it can be pretty easy to meet new people. My own New Year’s Eve this year, I was alone in Dublin but had a great time at a pub that I went to. The one thing that sucks, in my opinion, about not having a travel companion, is having to depend on strangers to take pictures of YOU. When you ask a random person to do that you don’t know what you’ll be getting in terms of quality (so sometimes I will have to have several different bystanders snap the photo until I end up with one that I like); and in Dublin, one person who I asked to photograph me in front of the James Joyce statue accidentally dropped my point-and-shoot camera and broke it.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Yes, Harvey, you are so right. I actually didn’t trust anyone to take my photo on this trip. I took only selfies, which are never the best in terms of travel photos. When with friends or family, I make them take it a million times before they get it right. Fellow travel bloggers are the most patient when it comes to this, but friends and family often get frustrated over time, haha. I can’t believe someone broke your point and shoot, so disappointing. πŸ™

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  21. Aggy

    I love this post Erin! I am always a little scared to start my solo travel but once I’m actually doing it, it’s really not bad, in fact it’s liberating. I love getting to know myself through my solo travels and it’s in those moments that I start to appreciate the little things πŸ™‚

  22. Tracey

    What a delightful post. Your trip sounds like heaven to me! No rushing around trying to please others. Just doing what you love and going at your own pace. That’s what solo travel is all about. Wonderful.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks, Tracey! I had a really wonderful time. πŸ™‚

  23. Patty Lauren

    As a fellow solo traveler myself, I LOVED this post. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who enjoys just being and not necessarily feeling like you have to run yourself ragged – drinking wine on a patio in Barcelona sounds just about right. πŸ™‚

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks, Patty! I agree, sometimes it’s just nice to get away! Part of me felt guilt for not exploring, but really, what’s better than wine on the patio in Barcelona? πŸ˜‰ My trip was just perfect!

  24. Danielle

    I’ve always wanted to travel solo. I have a round trip domestic flight from miles waiting to be booked and I want to go somewhere alone but I’m scared to take the plunge into solo travel!

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