Here I am on my second, extended solo trip in the past two years. My second solo travel experience. I’ve done and seen things I can only dream of. Diving in the Red Sea. Seeing the Northern Lights dance above me. Experiencing the warmth and kindness of locals as I struggle to understand a certain culture. Pagoda hopping my way through Myanmar. Visiting Roman ruins all over Europe and Asia. Jumping on the back of a stranger’s motorbike only to go “anywhere!” Seriously, the experiences I’ve had in the past two years are nothing short of incredible.
But there is a downside to solo travel…
I became an avid solo traveler to experience life, the world, and new cultures. I began traveling abroad alone because I couldn’t imagine waiting around for my friends to get time off work. I couldn’t imagine waiting until I had a boyfriend to go with, or it was time for another family trip. I was tired of dreaming of far off places – without actually visiting. I was tired of being jealous of other people out there living their lives and experiencing the world! So as I have jumped into my second whirlwind solo travel adventure, I’ve realized that it isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. There is a downside to traveling solo.
The thing about solo travel that nobody is talking about…
Having all of those incredible experiences? Traveling by yourself? It’s quite lonely at times. When you experience something so amazing and otherworldly that you can’t quite possibly put it into words. It makes you wish that someone was there experiencing it with you. You eat a great meal, you see something incredible, or you try something new for your first time. And you look around… but nobody is standing next to you. There’s nobody to truly share the experience with. It’s just you… having this incredible solo travel experience by yourself.
And even worse than that? You become ok with the fact that you’re reveling in this experience by yourself because you know once you return home you’ll have someone to talk to! You finally get home to share your experience, but nobody can relate. They may smile and nod… but nobody truly gets what you went through. The good and bad. The ugly and pretty. The downright miserable to the incredibly amazing. They just kind of stare at you… blankly. You begin to feel those lonely feelings all over again.
And how do you talk about your experiences without it being well, annoying? When your stories all start with, “That time I was in Jordan/Romania/Greece/Italy/(fill in the blank)”… how does that not come off a bit “showy”? So you learn to bite your tongue and suck it up. It becomes easier to take in these incredible experiences alone but the lonely feeling never totally disappears.
BUT! There’s only one thing worse than feeling lonely at times…
Out of everything that was just mentioned above… there is only one thing that is worse than all of those things combined. There’s only one thing worse than feeling lonely at times. Or not being able to share your experiences. And that is, going back to sitting on your couch… dreaming of far off places, and not experiencing them for yourself. So You keep traveling alone. You keep having those experiences and booking solo vacations. You continue to live your life to the absolute fullest. Because what other choice do you have?
So the next time you are on a solo trip and you experience something incredible? Write it down. Take a picture. Turn to a stranger with a stupid grin on your face and say, “WOW!” Hell, do anything you want to do! You’re alone after all and there is nobody there to judge you!
Your solo travel experiences are worth talking about!
Even with the blank stares and people being unable to relate, I am still permitting you to revel in the awesome experiences you’re having! The places you’re going, the food you’re trying, and the people you’re meeting! Your experiences are awesome. And if you want to talk about it, talk about it. Talking about it is your way of trying to share a sliver of your experience with a loved one.
So next time you feel as though nobody can relate, or even feel guilty for having the experiences you’ve had… don’t. Next time you’re worried you’re being annoying just remember that if you were following the social “norm” you wouldn’t feel so annoying. The best we can do is to keep living life and hope that eventually, you’ll find someone to share these things with. And your incredible solo travel experience will continue to stay with you as the days and years pass by.
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