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Kat Lapelosa responds to the recently published Why you should stop traveling alone.

Photo: krystian_o

Traveling alone is enlightening. It’s empowering. It’s explorative. People think you’re amazing after telling them a story about a place you traveled to on your own. “Weren’t you scared?” “Weren’t you lonely?” “Didn’t you miss your friends and family?” Dependent travelers are curious when it comes to solo travelers, and sometimes they don’t understand how an experience can be so positive unless shared with another. But you know better – you know how to enjoy your own company and entertain yourself.

You know that traveling alone can be a very fulfilling opportunity.

When you travel alone, you learn to rely on yourself. If you make a decision, only you have to deal with its positive conclusions or consequences. It’s up to you to create your trip experience, and your problem-solving skills develop in an encouraging way. You got lost in Beijing, don’t speak Mandarin Chinese, and don’t know how to get back to your hotel? But you found your way using hand gestures, a map, and the help of a toothless man at the grocery store? And you didn’t get mugged after making a wrong turn down a dark alleyway full of prostitutes? Pat yourself on the back, you’re an independent traveling badass.

It’s hard to travel with other people because other people can be indecisive. They can be more sensitive than you, or less, and have their own opinions on how their trip experience should transpire. But when you travel alone, never will you feel guilty for missing that train from Florence to Rome, or never will you have to apologize to anyone for sleeping in late at your hostel. You don’t have anyone else’s feelings to take into consideration, and that is sometimes the most encouraging reason to travel alone.

It’s easier to get the most out of your trip when you travel by yourself. You can set your own pace, create your own itinerary. If you want to spend five hours at a Turkish bathhouse, go for it. If you want to try on Lolita clothing in Japan and parade yourself around the Harajuku district in your new duds, no one can discourage you with, “No, don’t do that, you look so weird.” When you’re hungry, you eat. When you’re tired, you sleep. When you want to hit on a ginger-haired Irishman that others might consider to be ugly, no one else is there to criticize your decision. You can feel confident when he accepts your advances, or you can shamelessly learn from your mistakes when he reveals that he’s gay.

You can feel just as insecure in your own backyard – if you’re going to feel sorry for yourself, do it somewhere cool.

The best thing about traveling alone is that you are never really “alone.” Solo travelers meet other travelers, people traveling in groups or as a couple or other solo travelers on their own journeys. Locals will embrace your bravery to traverse the earth on your own. Or maybe they’ll pity you, so they’ll invite you home to have a meal with their family, or help you hitchhike across borders, or share a mug of beer with you at the community pub. You’ll exchange email addresses, or add them on Facebook. You’ll feel like a true global citizen, with an open invitation to crash on a bed or a couch or a hammock in several countries around the world.

The worst thing about traveling alone is that you have no one with which to share in your experiences. It can be tough to bask in the sunrise over Angkor Wat on your own, when your natural inclination may be to tightly grasp the hand of a loved one out of sheer overwhelming emotion. Or when you attend a dance concert by yourself in Budapest, featuring nude dancers who pelvic-thrusted their gonads in your face during the performance, it can be annoying when friends back home have a hard time believing your story. Don’t take it personally – they still admire your ability to fly halfway around the world on your own whenever you want. There’s no mistaking that traveling alone can be lonely. But you can feel just as insecure in your own backyard – if you’re going to feel sorry for yourself, do it somewhere cool.

Discover who you are, what you want, and where you want to be when you travel alone. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to go skydiving, but none of your other friends were into the idea. Maybe you wouldn’t go skydiving by yourself back home, but ah, when you find yourself in New Zealand and at the edge of a plane looking down, who is there to stop you? You jump into the clean, open air and see beautiful landscape below. As you glide to the ground, you feel triumphant – you’ve just jumped out of a plane! No one was there to talk you out of it, and your decision to finally do something you’ve always wanted to do was made by you.

 

 

About The Author

Katka Lapelosa

Katka is a Contributing Editor and the Social Media Manager for Matador Network. She is based in New York and has worked in the travel industry for the past five years. Other contributions include articles for Vittana, Thought Catalog, Travel Fashion Girl, Yelp!, Where’s Cool?, TripAha! and more. Read more about how awesome she is at katkatravels.com.

  • Mike Bird

    Agreed 100%.

  • Mike Bird

    Agreed 100%.

  • Amy Benson

    I just spent two months traveling alone and often found that I was beating myself up over feeling lonely or insecure. I was supposed to be having a great – or at the very least interesting – time and there I was in paradise feeling glum. Next time maybe I won’t be so hard on myself. Thanks.

    • Katka Lapelosová

      It can be hard traveling alone because we don’t often have those people we trust to make us feel better when times get tough. That is definitely a downside to traveling alone. But at least you discovered that feeling on your own, you didn’t have anyone else potentially influencing you. I know you will OWN your next trip based on your former realizations, go for it!

  • Sean Kois

    “It’s hard to travel with other people because other people can be indecisive.” Truer words have never been spoken.

    • Carolyn Giles

      To go a bit further…I am generally a solo traveler and I too can be indecisive…but two indecisive people= headache! Great article Katka!

    • Carolyn Giles

      To go a bit further…I am generally a solo traveler and I too can be indecisive…but two indecisive people= headache! Great article Katka!

    • Carolyn Giles

      To go a bit further…I am generally a solo traveler and I too can be indecisive…but two indecisive people= headache! Great article Katka!

    • Carolyn Giles

      To go a bit further…I am generally a solo traveler and I too can be indecisive…but two indecisive people= headache! Great article Katka!

  • Juhri

    and there’s no competition when you’re traveling alone!

  • Scott Hartman

    Nicely said, Kat. There is, I think, a ‘downside’ (though I prefer ‘B-side’:) to most – if not – everything, everyplace, everyone. We in the West tend, I believe, to hide from that kind of ‘down-’ prefix/connotation. For me it is simply a part of Life, and traveling alone – as I have always done – see’s that I confront it, come to terms with it… Walk on… :)

    • Katka Lapelosová

      I thought about that actually, after submitting the article, all of the B-sides to solo travel. But then again, the article was not “why it sucks to travel alone” – perhaps I’ll follow up with that one!

    • Scott Hartman

      Maybe my people should have lunch with your people . . . to discuss ‘B-side’ . . . we may have an intellectual property issue here ;)

  • Dragan Tapšanov

    So inspiring, so motivating, so passionate, love this article, made me get of my bed, clean the DSLR an plan the next trip. LOVE IT! Tnx. for this Katka, you made my day.

    • Katka Lapelosová

      Your name is awesome! Thank YOU!

    • Dragan Tapšanov

      lol, tnx. hope to read something from u.

    • Dragan Tapšanov

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  • Joy Tranel

    Love this article and wholeheartedly agree about all of the upsides (and downsides). I have traveled solo to many different places and have had wonderful experiences. My solo travels have also inspired other friends to take the plunge and book their own solo adventures….hopefully your article will also inspire others to do the same!

  • Ruth Beißel

    Very nice and inspiring article! But I also agree with the other article “Why you should stop traveling alone”. I was traveling for 4 months last year, partly with friends, partly on my own. And I got extremely lazy and bored on my own. The most annoying thing was, that I was having the same conversations with different travelers over and over again… “Where are you from? How long are you traveling for? Where have you been so far?”…
    Of course you should go for the way of traveling you feel most comfortable with, but for me, it’s probably going to be a mixture. Being on your own is an opportunity to get to know yourself better, but you shouldn’t underestimate how good it feels to have someone around who’s known you for more than a couple of days.

  • Ruth Beißel

    Very nice and inspiring article! But I also agree with the other article “Why you should stop traveling alone”. I was traveling for 4 months last year, partly with friends, partly on my own. And I got extremely lazy and bored on my own. The most annoying thing was, that I was having the same conversations with different travelers over and over again… “Where are you from? How long are you traveling for? Where have you been so far?”…
    Of course you should go for the way of traveling you feel most comfortable with, but for me, it’s probably going to be a mixture. Being on your own is an opportunity to get to know yourself better, but you shouldn’t underestimate how good it feels to have someone around who’s known you for more than a couple of days.

  • Ruth Beißel

    Very nice and inspiring article! But I also agree with the other article “Why you should stop traveling alone”. I was traveling for 4 months last year, partly with friends, partly on my own. And I got extremely lazy and bored on my own. The most annoying thing was, that I was having the same conversations with different travelers over and over again… “Where are you from? How long are you traveling for? Where have you been so far?”…
    Of course you should go for the way of traveling you feel most comfortable with, but for me, it’s probably going to be a mixture. Being on your own is an opportunity to get to know yourself better, but you shouldn’t underestimate how good it feels to have someone around who’s known you for more than a couple of days.

  • Ruth Beißel

    Very nice and inspiring article! But I also agree with the other article “Why you should stop traveling alone”. I was traveling for 4 months last year, partly with friends, partly on my own. And I got extremely lazy and bored on my own. The most annoying thing was, that I was having the same conversations with different travelers over and over again… “Where are you from? How long are you traveling for? Where have you been so far?”…
    Of course you should go for the way of traveling you feel most comfortable with, but for me, it’s probably going to be a mixture. Being on your own is an opportunity to get to know yourself better, but you shouldn’t underestimate how good it feels to have someone around who’s known you for more than a couple of days.

  • Ruth Beißel

    Very nice and inspiring article! But I also agree with the other article “Why you should stop traveling alone”. I was traveling for 4 months last year, partly with friends, partly on my own. And I got extremely lazy and bored on my own. The most annoying thing was, that I was having the same conversations with different travelers over and over again… “Where are you from? How long are you traveling for? Where have you been so far?”…
    Of course you should go for the way of traveling you feel most comfortable with, but for me, it’s probably going to be a mixture. Being on your own is an opportunity to get to know yourself better, but you shouldn’t underestimate how good it feels to have someone around who’s known you for more than a couple of days.

  • Gregg Brown

    I agree, that also makes a God excuse for not getting married…..loved it

  • Gregg Brown

    I agree, that also makes a God excuse for not getting married…..loved it

  • Clarisse Hammerli

    I spent 4 months traveling around Europe by myself in 2012! Best thing I ever did! Never felt more secure of myself and less lonely! Met wonderful people and found out I really enjoy my own company! There is a huge difference between being alone and feel lonely!
    Love the post! Thanks!

  • Clarisse Hammerli

    I spent 4 months traveling around Europe by myself in 2012! Best thing I ever did! Never felt more secure of myself and less lonely! Met wonderful people and found out I really enjoy my own company! There is a huge difference between being alone and feel lonely!
    Love the post! Thanks!

  • Clarisse Hammerli

    I spent 4 months traveling around Europe by myself in 2012! Best thing I ever did! Never felt more secure of myself and less lonely! Met wonderful people and found out I really enjoy my own company! There is a huge difference between being alone and feel lonely!
    Love the post! Thanks!

  • Clarisse Hammerli

    I spent 4 months traveling around Europe by myself in 2012! Best thing I ever did! Never felt more secure of myself and less lonely! Met wonderful people and found out I really enjoy my own company! There is a huge difference between being alone and feel lonely!
    Love the post! Thanks!

  • Ni Payne

    Brilliant! I always look for someone to travel with, I’ve even planned my next trip with a very good friend. However, you write your own, unique story travelling alone!

  • Tara Cote

    I really love this article and i have traveled and lived alone abroad often. I must say though my preferred way to travel is with a companion with the same temperament and travel tendencies as you. It lends itself too the same freedoms and you are still able to share and reflect on the experiences. But i believe its very important to try traveling alone and i would love to do it again!

  • Candace Shorter-Stephens

    This article inspiring, I plan to go to Greece soon, by myself! Reading this piece boosted my confidence.

  • Jongha Lim

    LOVE IT! This article makes me encourage to do something outside. Thx Katka!

  • Jongha Lim

    LOVE IT! This article makes me encourage to do something outside. Thx Katka!

  • Karl Vochatzer

    Alone, or with another… It’s ying and it’s yang, nature and nurture, neither one nor the other. It is what you are needing at the moment in your life when you are compelled to do it alone or to do it with another. Either way it is done, there are those of us that know we must do it in either manner.

    Thanks for the sentiments. I mostly identify with these reasons and rationales, however I am grateful also for the times in which I share the journey with others.

  • Amanda MacArthur

    I used to travel by myself constantly, I even drove from the bottom to the top of california by myself and it was amazing. However, it’s an amazing experience that only I can remember, and can’t truly be shared with anyone. I’d love to go back and do everything again with my fiance, because now that I’ve travelled it both ways, it’s so much more fulfilling to share the memories with someone. Traveling alone is fun for a couple days of each trip, but it gets lonely after a while.

  • Christine Cordt

    I love travelling on my own for completely different reasons. Its about meeting interesting NEW people and getting to know yourself be tter. I dont support the idea that these mentioned egoistic reasons should be decisive.

  • Alex Berger

    Far, far better to travel solo so long as you have social outlets like hostels or couchsurfing.

  • Richard Andersen

    I love the adventure of solo travel much easier to explore and you never have to wait for someone. I am on year three outside the US

  • Barb Hautanen

    At age 18, I learned that if I was to pursue my passion for travel I couldn’t wait around for someone to hold my hand. At that time, I wanted to go skiing in Colorado, but friends had reasons for why they couldn’t join me–no money, no time, don’t want to leave my boyfriend, etc. So, off I went by myself and I’ve continued to do this ever since then. About ten years ago though, I found a way to combine traveling alone & being with others to share an experience. I now volunteer overseas with animals. I travel to & from the destination alone, go before the project starts or stay after to do some sightseeing & if the project doesn’t include accommodations, I stay somewhere by myself. But while on the project, I am with like-minded individuals from around the world sharing the ups & downs of the adventure. I now feel like I have the best of both worlds when it comes to traveling.

    • T Joy Greger

      I went off to study abroad by myself. First time on a plane. First time in a foreign country. First time in a huge city (Paris). I met up with other students there but essentially I did it all on my own. I am so happy I took that step!!

  • La Viajera Morena

    Katka that is a great post! Thanks for sharing :D

  • TravelnLass

    “But you know better – you know how to enjoy your own company and entertain yourself.”

    There you have it, the key difference between you, Kat – and Bart.

    And furthermore, you’re not so insecure that you need to yap about your travel experiences to your tidy little clique of chums for the rest of your days.

    But the real tragedy here is that – if even one person who reads Bart’s post puts off their dream of traveling in hopes of one day finding someone to tag along – that someone may never come, and then… sadly, that’s one poor soul who will never know the joy of traveling at all. ;(

  • Crazy Sexy Fun Traveler

    Love the article. I usually don’t have any problems when traveling solo. It actually makes it easier :)

  • Crazy Sexy Fun Traveler

    Love the article. I usually don’t have any problems when traveling solo. It actually makes it easier :)

  • Laureene Reeves Ndagire

    I travel alone to understand life and its meaning, to understand myself. I feel that I have to lose my life in order to understand life itself. It’s liberating being on the road, but I do appreciate it when I make friends along the way, its sad when we part because I want the memories to stay that way.

  • Fahd Chaudhry

    This article is spot on with all the positives of solo travel. I’ve traveled with friends, I’ve traveled alone, and I have come to similar conclusions. Solo is so much better. You have the freedom to do what you want when you want. Great write-up.

    • Fahd Chaudhry

      @[9302033:2048:Shehryar Khan] I think you linked this article before. Cheers.

  • Kelli Hatfield

    I spent three years travelling alone and it was amazing at times and a struggle at others. One thing that it did was to renew my faith in the kindness of human beings. Getting mugged alone…no fun. Having a stranger pay your hotel becuase you have no money and a family hand you their $100 emergency cash at the airport so you can pay you airport departure fees…heartwarming.uyou

    • Carl Withad Frost

      Can’t agree more. :)

  • Anonymous

    Loved your article. I started traveling alone when I was 24, I have been abroad 3 times on my own and although there are some moments when you wish you were traveling with someones else, the experience itself is very empowering and you discover that you can do things you never thought you could. On the other hand, I don’t want to travel alone forever but if I am going to share a trip with someone else, it has to be the right person because not everyone shares the same vision on traveling.

  • Megan Krempels

    Great post! SO proud of the community that encourages women traveling alone. Getting weird looks, pity or criticism for traveling alone is something I’ve felt :) http://trekity.com/traveling-alone/.

  • Sam@GreenGlobalTravel

    Great topic! When I studied abroad in Australia, there were a lot of people on my trip who would never have traveled alone outside of the program, but I was so glad I did. If I waited to travel with other I would have had to make concessions and not been able to do everything that I wanted to do. Also, I would never have traveled to New Zealand, which looking back was one of the best parts of my study abroad experience and I met so many people who I never would have had the chance to meet otherwise.

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