At first, traveling alone wasn’t really my scene. I was staying in Amsterdam, my first stop on a three-month trip to Europe.
“Maybe I hate this city because of its inherent melancholy, flowing through the pipes of the old houses, lining the underbelly of the dark-watered canals,” I wrote in a very dramatic journal entry.
I basically wandered around the narrow streets in the drizzle, cold, jet-lagged and lonely. Sartre would have been proud.
A few years later, I now love traveling alone more than I ever thought I would. You don’t have to get sick of someone else, you can go wherever you want and most importantly, you meet infinitely more people.
When traveling by yourself, one will often hear the question, “Are you traveling alone?”
Followed by other questions such as:
“Come by the pub tonight.”
“Stop by tomorrow for coffee, on the house.”
“My friend’s having a party Wednesday, did you want to come?”
So far I have made solo trips to Amsterdam, Barcelona, London, Dublin, Scotland and twice to the west coast of Ireland.
This summer in Dingle, Ireland, I started chatting with an American family outside a pub. They invited me inside for a Guinness and then took me out for a multi-course dinner at the best seafood restaurant in town. We happily shared stories about our travels in Ireland over fish chowder and brown bread.
From personal experience, this probably would never have happened if I would’ve been traveling with someone else. When you’re alone people have a tendency to want to take you under their wing and make sure that you have a good time. Plus, it’s always easier to make room for one more person than two or three.
Other travelers often ask,
“But don’t you get lonely?”
No, not really. For me it’s the perfect combination of socializing and solitude. I can explore all day, often with a newly acquired friend, have a few hours to shower, read and relax, and then go out for a night of fun. Solo travel has led me to opportunities I would never have experienced before; couchsurfing with a delightful Greek girl in Corfu for almost a week, taking a train up to the stunning Scottish highlands and road-tripping across the Dingle Peninsula with Irish guy I just met.
So honestly, if you love being surprised and having random acts of kindness bestowed upon you, give solo travel a try. I know it seems scary but it will probably work out. And just send me a note if you’re feeling melancholy.