Why Travelling Alone Is The Best Thing You Can Do For Yourself

“So you’re going round the world……by yourself? Like, totally alone?”

There were many confused looks at work when I told them what my plans were. They sort of understood it – after all, I’d come out of an 8-year relationship just 9 months before and by the rules of the broken-hearted, bound to do something radical – but being one of the few southerners in the office (I was working in Warrington in the North of England), I was already an anomaly and this just added fuel to the fire.

“But it’s so dangerous! You’re so brave. How will you manage?”

I reassured them that I had been travelling by myself before in my early twenties and that even though I was going alone, it would be rare that I would be truly alone (I hoped!). I had a couple of friends I was planning to meet at various points along the way and the rest of the time would be staying in hostels.

“But time is ticking on….”

OK, nobody actually said those exact words, but I think a few colleagues were of the opinion that rather than ‘running away’ to see more of the world I should be concentrating all my efforts into finding a potential husband and having babies – after all, now I was in my thirties it was imperative in some people’s minds. A boyfriend was the very last thing I was thinking of (although a few tried to convince me) – I knew I needed more time to untangle myself from all the complex emotions that were floating around my head and just enjoy being by myself for a while.

Besides, I saw my situation in a far more positive light – I had the type of freedom I never thought I’d have again and knew that I owed it to myself to make the very best of it. I needed to get to know myself again and in my mind, the best way to do this was to put myself out of my comfort zone and look in from the outside. And being single is a lot of fun.

No, They Are Not Looking At You….

Of course, I had various fears – would I feel old and the wrong side of 30? Would I be able to make friends as easily as I did first time round? Would it be OK staying in hostels again after having become used to more luxurious accommodation? Each of these fears dissipated within a few days as I realised that nobody cared how old I was other than me. In fact, I realised it was a positive thing being a bit older – I was wiser, more used to handling emotions and far more self-assured than the 22 year-old me.

I didn’t get homesick and I wasn’t afraid to do exactly what I wanted, whether it was going out drinking with a load of people from the hostel or hiking up a hill by myself. Even sitting alone in restaurants wasn’t an issue anymore after years of practice travelling for work. However much you think people are staring at you, it’s highly likely they won’t have even noticed you’re alone as they will be far too caught up in their own worlds.

Staying in hostels was just as fun as I’d remembered – strangely, I slept more soundly on the whole than I had in the last 9 months, which is slightly odd considering I was the other side of the world, in a room full of strangers and generally, in a more uncomfortable bed – but knowing I was around kindred spirits and the fact that tomorrow was always going to be a day of new sights and experiences filled me with a sense of wonderment before drifting to sleep each night.

It’s OK To Have Down Days

I had my down days – not many luckily, but they were there. On these days I’d let myself be and go with the flow. I listened to myself and adjusted accordingly, whether it was forcing myself to talk to someone new when I really wasn’t in the mood; or going off by myself for the day with a map and my diary.

I was slowly beginning to feel the old me returning – I was living each day as it came, appreciating every little thing and fully living in the present, which is so hard to do when stuck in the usual routine at home. Being alone in a new country with different customs, ideas and ways of living makes you far more observant and opens your eyes, heart and mind in a way that is so restorative. It’s comforting to realise that really we are all the same, with the same basic desires, hopes and needs. In spite of everything in the media as of late, the world isn’t so broken and there is good everywhere, you just need to know where to look.

A Defining Moment

The realisation that I would be OK, I wasn’t damaged beyond repair and I was somebody who people wanted to get to know really helped heal my heart and gave my confidence back. I’m lucky in that I am a naturally positive person, but in the couple of years prior to going away I had found that natural joy ebbing away a little and I was fighting to find it. It was a relief to know that it was still there in abundance – and helped very much to be brought out by all the wonderful people I met along the way, many of whom have become close friends.

About halfway through my trip, on my second to last day in New Zealand, I was in a cafe having brunch with some of the girls I’d met. All of a sudden I felt an enormous wave of emotion wash over me and knew I had to get out of there – so I did a speed walk back to the hostel and sobbed. I couldn’t stop.

They were tears of relief more than anything else as I realised the pure joy, freedom and unbridled happiness I was feeling that I had thought may be out of reach. I was falling head over heels in love with everything about life all over again and felt like the best version of myself. Something inside me had shifted and I knew that this moment would become a defining one. I wanted to capture it, feel it and fully embrace it. 

What Really Matters

The knock-on effects of that solo trip 2 years ago have been huge. It changed the course of my life and gave me clarity I would never have got otherwise. I hadn’t even realised that my priorities were all wrong – having a sensible job, a mortgage, a nice car, the latest gadgets etc. What I thought was making me happy was actually trapping me. I gave up my old office life, am travel blogging part-time, have moved back south to be closer to my family and I still take regular trips alone. Yes, it was scary making the change, having far less money and it’s always hard going against the norm – but I am far more content and peaceful just knowing that I am finally being true to myself.

Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway

No matter how old you are, who you are, what your story is – get out there and put yourself out your comfort zone, whether it’s 3 months backpacking round India or a weekend away in a neighbouring country or city. It’s easy to lose sight of ourselves in every day life and we all need time out to make sure we’re following the path that’s right for us.

There is something truly wonderful about only you knowing which exact bit of the planet you are on at that precise moment. You will gain a new perspective on yourself and the world, that I can promise you.

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Why Travelling Alone is the Best Thing you can do for yourself












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85 Replies to “Why Travelling Alone Is The Best Thing You Can Do For Yourself”

  1. Completely agree Louise, from travelling alone personally. It allows me to experience things for myself and grow as a human being. I left everything behind a year ago and jumped into the complete abyss. I was sick of my repetitive boring lifestyle and my soul wanted a change

    What countries have you been to?

  2. I love your blog, and following your travels. It sounds like the timing was great for you to do some traveling by yourself. I am sure you learned a lot about yourself, and it sounds like you had a lot of fun along the way. I had friends who graduated from college and did some traveling before they had to get a job and I always felt envious. I pretty much got a job and went to work. It’s great that you were able to do travel and have some amazing experiences. Keep up the good work, I will continue to follow your blog and see where you have been. I am glad you found your happy place.

  3. Hi Louise,

    This was such an inspiring post. I think you are absolutely right that we get caught up in things that mean something on the outside but maybe don’t really make us happy. I feel that way right now and I’m trying to fix it – though maybe not quite as bravely as you.

    I love to travel and don’t feel that traveling alone is too daunting – it is freeing. You mention adjusting yourself to your mood and I think that is a great piece of advice. Have you found an absolute favorite place to travel by yourself yet? I have a couple of big cities I love to lose myself in but mostly I gravitate to unpopulated wilderness. Keep the great stories coming!

    1. Thanks Leslie, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Every place is so different I think I’d find it really tough to choose a favourite! Like you, I do have a few favourite cities though…..Buenos Aires, San Francisco, New Orleans, Barcelona….

  4. Hi Louise, this was a very inspiring read thank you for sharing your empowering experience. I travelled alone to India in 2012 and everyone thought I was crazy but since then my life has opened up in so many ways and I love to take trips on my own whenever I can. I really respect your courage to take those curious steps and I wish you all the very best in your adventures!
    Much appreciated,

  5. Fantastic story! I honestly believe that solo travel is one of the best things you can do… it’s given me so much more confidence and I’ve made friends all around the world! Like you said it’s not like you’re ever truly ‘alone’ while on the road when staying in hostels!! Here’s to more solo travel adventures

  6. So inspiring! From a slightly different perspective, I attribute my happy family life to continuing to travel apart as well as together. Maintaining a sense of self when you have the demands of a small child is so important and it’s amazing how much they pick up on, you can really inspire them to follow in your footsteps one day.

    1. Thank you! I totally agree – it’s so important to keep our sense of self, which as you say is even more difficult when you have the responsibilities of a family. Continuing to inspire your children and each other is so important 🙂

  7. I wish I had the money to go on a long solo trip when I came out of my last relationship. I think it would have healed me faster. Now I’m married and with a little one, I want to travel with them.

  8. I sort of agree – in a sense that it’s really worth it to go out of your comfort zone – whether it is alone or with somebody. Because even if you’re with somebody – you just gotta face the world – and that’s priceless:) Awesome pictures btw!

  9. Great article! I agree, solo travel is life changing. I encourage everyone I can to take a solo trip at least once in their life. I can’t wait to plan my 2018 solo trip.

  10. I haven’t experience traveling alone. I don’t know but I don’t have the courage to do it or perhaps I don’t need to. For me discovering places and experiencing new things are best shared with someone you love (friends, family & husband).

  11. To be honest, I am no way ready to do a solo trip I am way to nervous, I really admire you and you inspire so many people. Reading posts like this makes me want to one day go on a trip on my own. You keep going girl! Respect!

  12. Hey Louise, what an amazing post! I’ve been traveling by myself for the past 6 months (until I met my now boyfriend) but it’s been so eye-opening! And even though we travel solo, I feel as though you’re never truly alone. Meeting so many cool and new people along the way is unbelievable and such a great experience. Thanks for writing such a great post!

    1. Thank you so much Sophie! That’s exactly my feeling – travelling alone actually made me feel less alone in a strange way!

  13. I tried to travel solo once just last August my first time and also first out of the country. I can say that I am brave, because I’d never feel afraid and I am a female. People must travel solo even once in a while. It’s very fulfilling!

  14. Couldn’t agree more to all the points you put up so bravely! Travelling alone is liberating. Even though i travel with my husband and i travel without him and enjoy it. More power to you in the form of travel. You go girl 🙂

  15. I absolutely love to travel and I am slowly progressing toward loving the independent travel, movement, thing that’s popping up across the web these days. I just always enjoy the company of my boys or at least one adult; however, I DO NOT like when that adult is complaining about every little nuance, or when my children are so interested in everything on the trip that I find myself exhausted! 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this. I am planning two independent trips before the end of this year, and I’ll keep you posted on how they go.

    My best,
    Nerissa S.

  16. I agree that you are never too old staying in hostels or travel alone. Although I travel lately with my family, I know how much solo travel can heal the heart 😉

  17. I used to love travelling alone and did so for many years. The frustrating part for me was after weeks of speaking broken English all I wanted to do was have a proper conversation. These days I prefer to travel with someone as I want to share my experiences.

  18. It is so true that the only person who is worried about you being too old, is you. Others are too caught up in their own world to care. I am happy that you took the step and didn’t let others words, questions and perception deter you from doing what you needed to do.

  19. Absolutely loved this post, it encapsulates everything I love about travelling and travelling solo. Crazy how certain people are so quick to judge with the ‘time is ticking on’ line, they will never understand.

    Char xo

  20. Just an article that I needed to come across as I am about to embark on a solo trip to Sri Lanka and a bit nervous about it. But your article has reassured me that everything will be just fine, in fact, it will be great. Really looking forward to the solo experience. Thanks for the insight

  21. First of all, please let me give you a big hug, Louise. I may not know you in person but somehow I feel so proud and happy that you have found what’s your true happiness is. I think in this modern life, it’s very vague about what is the definition of happiness. We need to sometime go beyond our comfort zone and realise what’s the real deal. Wishing you days full of smile ahead, Louise 🙂

  22. First of all, please let me give you a big hug, Louise. I may not know you in person but somehow I feel so proud and happy that you have found what’s your true happiness is. I think in this modern life, it’s very vague about what is the definition of happiness. We need to sometime go beyond our comfort zone and realise what’s the real deal. Wishing you days full of smile ahead, Louise 🙂

  23. I kind of tried the same: I came out of a relationship, decided to close all doors behind me, quit my job and went on my first solo travel 1 month in Colombia. Best thing ever! I was 28 and was also thinking if I was going to be the old one in the hostels, but I wasn’t ;)) Surprisingly I met sooo many people my age who recently had quit their job and traveled to kind of find themselves or get out of their comfort zone. Its a good thing to break out from daily life and see the world by your own 🙂

  24. Thank you for this. One day, I will conjure the courage to travel solo. I’ve always wanted to, but I’m very textbook introvert and I have so much anxiety meeting new people. I’m curious to feel what you experience when you travel alone and see how the experience affects me, too, especially since, as you say, it’s the best thing that you can do for yourself. Any suggestions of a destination for an introvert like me?

    1. Hi Carol! I really recommend travelling alone, putting yourself out your comfort zone is always such a positive thing to do. I wouldn’t say there are particular destinations that are better than others in terms of travelling alone but what I would say is – being in situations where you can choose to meet/talk to lots of people or not is the best thing. I found staying in hostels was great as everyone is of the same mind set, its so easy to meet people but at the same time, easy to go off and do your own thing too. I often choose to get a single room in a hostel then I get the best of both worlds!

      Another great option is to book yourself on a small-group tour – you are travelling alone but meeting a like-minded group of people. I can highly recommend G Adventures and Intrepid for these. Please let me know if you’d like any more tips, I’d be happy to help out! And I’d love to inspire you to go ahead and book that solo trip!

  25. How wonderful that you had the opportunity and the guts to take this solo trip to find yourself again! The best thing is that you can look back after two years and know that it was absolutely the best thing to do. Here’s to many more trips – solo or with a partner!

  26. Courage is often underestimated. Your courage has brought you to this point. Reading your post took me back 30 years to my 30-something self. I split up with my boyfriend in India. He went home. I continued to travel alone in that wonderful and daunting country. It changed my life. I still look back and see it as a pivotal point.
    Thanks so much for sharing your experience.

  27. I couldn’t agree more. I traveled solo to the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, North America and Europe and I learned so so much. While I am happy to have found a partner in crime to share my travels with, I am always happy and grateful for the chances of solo travel I had in the past!

  28. Hi Louise, This is probably the most positive and inspirational post I’ve read in a long while. I love how you turned adversity into something positive to you. I too feel that this step of travelling on your own has been extremely brave, and you did wonderfully. I can absolutely see that this would be a life-changing experience, that it would change your outlook on life and that it would make you a stronger person. Well done you! Will share this on my Twitter feed.

    1. Thank you so much Silke! I’m really glad you enjoyed the post. I can highly recommend a solo trip, it really is life-changing! 🙂

  29. Hello Louise,

    Very inspiring article! I’ve never thought about traveling alone, but I might consider it after reading your article.

    I feel like sometimes its better to travel alone because you can enjoy your vacation at your own pace. The only
    thing that is stopping me is funds. I need to start saving money and try this at least once in my life.


    1. Hi Eric,

      The freedom of doing exactly what you want whenever you want is a great thing! There are definitely ways to do it cheaply – if you stay in hostels and go on free walking tours etc, you can keep your daily budget to a minimum. Please let me know if you’d like any more advice! Happy travels!


  30. A lot of people are too afraid to take the leap like you were so brave to do. I had the same questions thrown at me when I took my first long-term solo trip. Travel has a way of exposing all the things you excel at and all the things you work on. It’s an education on all the external things you come across and on yourself. I love hearing all the solo travelers out there, of any and all ages, sharing their experiences.

  31. Love this post, and totally agree with the sentiment of feeling the fear but doing it anyway. Traveling alone at 18 was the best thing I ever did before university – like you it gave me a clarity I wouldn’t have otherwised achieved, set my priorities straight, and put me on a completely different course in my life. I too got the spiels from people “you’re so brave” etc – but really, should it really be considered brave to live life to the fullest?

  32. I love the way you write, Louise!

    I’m really happy with your discoveries and your life-changing decision. You seem to appreciate life, family and all the opportunities that the world brings us.

    I can definitely relate to that.

    Now, traveling alone is one of the things I’ve never done. But I wish I did. My sister backpacked 6 months in Europe (Italy, Portugal, Spain and some other countries) and on her way back she described some of the same emotions.

    I can’t wait to read your next post.

    All the best,

  33. I have travelled solo frequently over the years and think it builds real resilience. I can recall being in Andorra skiing once and the other British package holiday makers almost thinking I was utterly weird for doing it alone, but hey at least it means we can still go away even if our friends can not

  34. I adore your site and loved this article – I read it word for word, you had me hooked!

    I’m 22 and sometimes I really have this urge to just pack up and go travel. I feel like if I don’t do it soon I may regret not doing it earlier. I don’t really have the means of doing it yet, but I’m working on it.

    Where you said “my priorities were all wrong – sensible job, car, gadgets, etc”, I actually think that they are the wrong priorities! All that stuff doesn’t actually make you happy. I’m glad to hear that you had such a great experience.

    I’ll get to do it one day soon, I’m sure of it! 🙂

    1. Thanks Josh, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! 

      I would definitely say go and travel before you get too many commitments and ties – it really is one of the best things you can do. Having said that, you are only 22 so you have plenty of time! I’d love to hear about your trip when you do 🙂

  35. I have to admit, I have never really travelled on my own, as i’ve always been in a relationship since I was a teenager. Travelling though has opened up a new way of life for me too. You are right what you say, certain ‘trappings’ of modern living can actually confine you. You work hard to pay for a house, car, and everything else but you are can be tied if you work in a traditional job. I know work as a blogger and make my money from it and I can travel anywhere in the world.

  36. I love to travel solo and do the things I really want. I’m especially fussy about how I spend my time and the things I like to do especially visiting a place and planning the daily activities and mostly photo inspired visits I would love to do which is a time consuming for the ordinary traveler.

  37. I actually prefer to travel with my husband, mostly because he’s my perfect travel companion and has been for the past 17 years. Yet I also travel on my own when he can’t come with me. If I wasn’t in a relationship I would’ve just left on my own!
    Honestly I never felt on the wrong side of 30, I just do my own thing and try not to think of what the others might think. Most of the times it’s all in our head!

  38. I am 30 and I enjoy solo travel. I totally get the pressure of settling down, but even if that’s what you want in the long run, I don’t think it’s gonna happen simply by sitting down and waiting for someone to find you. I’d rather be out there enjoying what life has to offer than be cooped up anxiously waiting for the next best thing to happen. 🙂

  39. Yes! Feel the fear and do it anyways! So truthful because solo travel can be scary, especially for someone who hasn’t done it. Travel bloggers can make it look so perfect all the time. I travel solo sometimes, when my husband can’t get the time off, and I love the freedom. My faith in humanity is always renewed when traveling solo and I walk away having learned more about myself. Bravo for being courageous about living the life you know is right for you.

  40. Very inspiring post and great thoughts. I used to love traveling solo, do my own thing, talk to whoever I wanted. Now I got a partner, I love traveling with her, taking in the world at the same time.

  41. As a fellow traveler who has done some solo travel, I find your story inspiring. It’s always interesting to me that people see solo travelers as so brave and fearless. Isn’t it great to do things on your time and your schedule?

  42. Everyone should really try traveling solo at some point and go out of their comfort zone. Like you said, a lot of women have fears about going on their own, about what others would think of them. But then you will later learn that everyone is too focused on their own selves to ever think badly of you.

  43. I completely agree with you. I travel solo whenever I need to disconnect with the world and re-connect with myself. Over time as I traveled alone, I overcame several of my fears which enabled me to evolve as a person.

  44. Hi Louise! I just found this post and could not agree more. It was lovely to read how your feelings unlocked and reconnected you with your sense of self again. Wonderful. I’m a bit of an old crone compared to you, but I’ve just started a blog that focuses on precisely this point: the personal development benefits of solo travel. All power to your pen! Ella

    1. Thanks for your lovely comments Ella! I’m so glad you agree. I truly believe that travelling alone is the best possible thing you can do for yourself. Funnily enough, this post has been my most popular so far-I think people can really identify with it, especially as it’s written from the heart. Good luck with your blog-I look forward to following it! Louise

  45. What a cool post.. stumbled upon it while randomly surfing the net.. I am a solo traveller who just turned 40 & yes is single.. never been married.. I get weird looks and similar comments from people around me, family doesn’t get why I love travelling and well there are many who envy me and wish they would travel solo…

    Kudos to you .keep doing what you love.. hi and hugs all the way from Chennai (south India)..if ever planning a trip here ,do reach out ,happy to host/meet/ take you around..

    Email – aaroo4@gmail.com or write to me through my FB page – https://m.facebook.com/talesfromaaroo

    1. Thanks you and lovely to hear from you! 🙂 I will most certainly look you up if I’m ever in South India. All the best to you!

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