What I Learned About Solo Travel
Recently, I embarked on one of the most empowering, scary, and liberating adventures a woman can tackle -- a solo trip. I have traveled solo before a bit, but this was the first time I took an entire vacation on my own.
It wasn't initially supposed to be solo travel, but unfortunate circumstances turned a girls' trip into a solo adventure. In this instance, it was an overnight train trip to Denver to enjoy my first-ever concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater. And it was my favorite band Modest Mouse, so I wasn't going to let being alone stop me from this experience.
I learned a few things along the way about how to enjoy solo travel and make the most of your own company.
Here's what I learned about solo travel as a woman:
You can do whatever-the-f you like.
Everyone has had this situation when traveling with other people. You're in a new place. You don't have an agenda. And you end up wandering around asking each other, "Do you wanna go in here?" "What do you feel like eating?" "Well, what do YOU feel like doing?" Round and round until you give up and eat at a Chipotle.
It's hard to avoid that scenario and it's not inherently bad, but I think we can all admit it's nice to not have to take a poll and get a consensus everytime someone needs to take a piss. I wandered around downtown Denver for hours -- and I shopped, peed, and ate when I felt like it. It was nice.
You are lovely company.
As a freelancer that works from home, I'm alone a lot on a day-to-day basis, so it doesn't really bother me. Traveling by myself just shows me that I truly am lovely company. Don't be afraid to find out if you enjoy yourself too (and that is not a masturbation joke. Unless you want it to be and then by all means, you go girl. Just don't do that on the public transportation ok?)
Meeting new people is exciting. And exhausting.
When you're alone in public, it makes you a bit more approachable. Bartenders will chat you up more. Other travelers will engage. Your Uber driver will tell you their life story.
I really enjoy meeting new people. It's exciting. It's fun. It gives you a new perspective on life. But as a natural introvert, it's exhausting. I'm an extroverted introvert, so I don't have trouble chatting up strangers -- but small talk exhausts me.
Another perk of traveling solo is you can exit any social situation whenever you like. Exhausted from small talk about the weather? Excuse yourself. Enjoying geeking out about Modest Mouse over appetizers at the bar? Stick around until you shuttle shows up.
It helps to have a purpose.
If you're feeling super awkward about being singled out as a solo traveler, I get it! What I found helpful in my adventure was identifying activities where I was DOING something -- and that lent itself well to conversation.
One of the nights in Denver, I took a painting class. It was a social event so I did chat with my fellow classmates -- but didn't feel pressured to make conversation because we were all focused on the task at hand. I highly recommend trying social activities like these if you're not the kind of person to just spark conversations with people at a bar or coffee shop.
It's not always going to be great. (A.K.A. Avoid the Coors Brewery if you're alone).
Overall, I think traveling solo is great, but not everything about it is rosy. I had some experiences and moments during the trip where I really felt lonely. Or I wished my boyfriend or friend could have been with me. But let's be honest, is every single second of any vacation perfect? No.
In my specific experience of a solo trip to Denver, I would recommend skipping the Coors Brewery if you are going solo. My experiences there made me feel really singled out for being by myself. There were touristy photos and people pointing out that I was alone and just lots of awkward moments.