The Importance of Travelling Alone

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Travelling with a partner or friend can be a great way to deepen a relationship, but there is incredible value in flying solo too…

Travelling Alone

I met Julia on river cruise in Tasmania. A naturopath and hypnotist by profession, Julia looked like any other sixty-something Melbournite, so it took me by surprise when I discovered she was on a month-long bush camping journey through Tasmania on her own.

“My husband doesn’t like bush camping, so I left him at home,” she said. “He needs to be in close vicinity to cappuccinos at all times.”

I could relate. Only in recent years have I come to love the outdoors enough to part ways with cappuccinos for long stretches of time.

Julia’s story fascinated me. Craving rejuvenation, away from the onus of helping other people through their problems, Julia had packed up her 4WD, ferried over to Tasmania, and made a temporary home for herself among the whisper of gums and birdsong. Alone.

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Cradle Mountain National Park, Tasmania

I liked Julia. I loved that she was not afraid to do her own thing and that her idea of a holiday was absolute solitude in one of the most remote and wild places you can find. She had no problem being lonely, nor was she apologetic about going on an adventure without her café-obsessed hubby. She wanted a wild adventure, he didn’t, so she went alone.

Easy, right?

Maybe not. When I told a friend I was heading to Tasmania for a travel writing gig, she said: “Alone? So you’re just going to sit on your own in restaurants?” It’s kind of funny to think that the scariest part of travelling alone could be booking a table for one. Dining by candle light and gazing across the table at absolutely nobody is admittedly rather awkward.

But is that a good reason not to do it?

Among many other lessons learned during my recent ten day silent meditation retreat, I found out how to comfortably sit inside of uncomfortable feelings. I discovered that if I don’t hook into my worries and instead focus on the present moment—the smells, sounds and sensations of Now—then there is no such thing as awkwardness or loneliness.

In fact, loneliness can bring you back to your centre.

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The beautiful Southern Ocean, Tasmania.

While camping might not be your cup of tea (or cappuccino), going on a solo adventure is one of the most balancing activities you can engage in, especially for a woman like Julia.

People who take on the role of being the nurturers in their families, communities and jobs often put their own wellbeing last. Who they are and what they love can easily be pushed aside for what other people want, what other people need.

Someone like this might struggle to pursue anything on her own because ‘me’ time feels like self-indulgence, neglect or flat out selfishness. If this goes on unchecked, she can forget what it is that she actually loves when it’s not stitched to making other people happy.

Then her identity gets lost. Her sanity is in jeopardy.

Julia, a therapist by profession, wasn’t going to let that happen to her. So she packed up her camper and left.

On a plane, during the safety instruction, the advice is always to put the oxygen over your own mouth before you put it on your kids or anyone else. For if you are not able to keep yourself alive and well, then what good will you be to others?

This is why it’s so important to learn how to love your own company, to travel solo, to dine for one. We are each living out our own journeys and so we much take care of our own needs, desires and dreams. We must learn to give generosity to ourselves so that we can suck the marrow from life, even if our companions can’t part ways with cappuccinos.

Sometimes this means flying solo to deepen your relationship to yourself.

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Wild Tasmania

What do you think of an adventure like this? Would you camp on your own for a month?

Disclosure: ‘Julia’ set off to find privacy and solitude, so I did not use her real name or image. My trip was sponsored by Tasmania Tourism and Go Behind the Scenery, but all thoughts are entirely my own.

Leave a Comment

  • Rotub April 16, 2014, 1:29 am

    I’ve been in East Africa for nearly 3 months now. I was with my partner in Tanzania for 1 month. But the remaining 2 months have been on my own in Uganda and Rwanda. I brought my own tent and I’ve camped about half the time. It’s the best.

    Reply
  • Denise April 16, 2014, 1:37 am

    I suppose my moto has always been that life is too short to force yourself to do things which make you uncomfortable (for example, for me, camping) UNLESS, that discomfort is standing between me and a goal I really want to achieve, and there is no way around it (for example, a fear of phones (?)). Then I kick the hell out of that discomfort.

    So, if I had to choose I wouldn’t travel solo, but if I really want to go somewhere and no one wants to come with me, I’ll definitely do it!

    Lovely photos by the way.

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  • NZ Muse April 16, 2014, 1:52 am

    STUNNING photos.

    I really enjoy solo travel, but then again I am an introvert. Even dining alone is something that’s not scary after the first time.

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  • Alana - Paper Planes April 16, 2014, 2:18 am

    There are plenty of reasons to not travel alone, but being nervous to eat dinner alone certainly shouldn’t be one of them!

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  • Fanny April 16, 2014, 2:48 am

    Traveling alone can be very rewarding, I absolutely love it. I’m making my way through Mexico on my own right now and it’s just terrific. It’s great having to rely on yourself, it makes you realise just what you are capable of. And in reality, I find that you are often not really alone because there’s always someone who wants to have a chat.
    As far as eating alone is concerned: I am actually a fan! I either focus completely on my food or spend my time observing the people around me. They never get boring!

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  • Kaleena's Kaleidoscope April 16, 2014, 3:08 am

    Five years ago when I went on my first backpacking trip with my boyfriend of the time I met several solo travelers and thought to myself, “that sounds miserable”. But now the older I get the more I’ve actually been craving solo travel and this summer I’m doing my first completely solo trip–to Borneo, of all places! A friend actually hinted at joining me but I turned her down because I realize that this is something I really want to do alone. Solo travel isn’t for everyone but I think it’s a great experience and I’m super excited to try it! :)

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  • Katherine April 16, 2014, 4:56 am

    I love this and I recently had a very similar experience. I have, since a very young age, been longing to go to India. My partner is an inside kid (likes being close to the cappuccinos) and so India is pretty much his Hell on Earth. So, I decided to go on my own. I can absolutely relate to that feeling that in my day to day life I am the one looking after everyone else and just generally ‘busy’ with things I have commited to (which I love) and I rarely get the oppourtunity to do only what I want to do, right now. Travelling alone was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. I felt like I discovered so much about myself, how I react to things, what situations I thrive in etc. In fact, a week in I realised that I was actually comfortable sitting on my own doing absolutely nothing! Incredible. I am never idle, always doing at least a couple of things at once. I think it tested our relationship in a really good way too, it built our strength, both as individuals and as a couple.
    I love “If you are not able to keep yourself alive and well, then what good will you be to others?” I think I’ll put that somewhere I can see it.

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  • Sarah Somewhere April 16, 2014, 5:00 am

    What a cool lady! I haven’t done much solo travel. I used to do a lot of work travel, and have taken trips by myself but have always had someone to meet up with at some point. I definitely meet more people when I am solo though, and it looks like you did too.

    Reply
  • Janice Stringer April 16, 2014, 8:28 am

    Hi Torre,
    Ages and stages of life, for me have significance where this is concerned.

    Reply
  • Carina April 16, 2014, 3:30 pm

    I never minded traveling alone before I was married, but now, I can’t imagine. I only get a few weeks of vacation time and the thought of not getting to be together to share those experiences would make me sad. My husband gets six weeks of vacation per year, so he will sometimes take a trip without me, and that never bothers me, but one of my favorite things about being married is the fabulous travel adventures we get to share. At the same time, I am glad I traveled solo in my 20s. I’d be happy to travel solo again if my vacation time weren’t limited and therefore precious, but it’s the price I choose to pay for our early retirement plan. No complaints.

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  • Amy Lynne Hayes April 16, 2014, 3:31 pm

    Traveling solo can be daunting, but that’s no reason not to do it! I travel solo quite a bit, and am planning a move to New Zealand (from the States) where I don’t know a soul. Part of that scares me, and part of me is so excited about all the new people it will force me to go out and meet. Dining alone can definitely feel awkward though at times lol.

    Reply
  • Beverley April 16, 2014, 7:58 pm

    I’m not sure I would spend a month camping alone, but I would absolutely (and have already) travel for a month on my own. I’ve never minded my own company and, although sometimes I miss having somewhere to share those special travel moments with (like I did in Australia) being somewhere alone can really be a worthwhile experience, getting comfortable with just being yourself makes you stronger and dining alone? I don’t mind it. And it’s definitely not something that should stop people from travelling alone.

    Reply
  • Andi April 16, 2014, 11:55 pm

    I am so so so happy that I traveled on my own before I met my husband. It definitely made me the person I am today, however now that I’ve found my favorite travel partner I have zero desire to travel without him. He makes trips 100X more amazing! :)

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  • Charlie April 17, 2014, 8:31 pm

    I love travelling alone. In fact, although I’m excited about going travelling with my partner at the end of the year, there’s a small part of me that wishes I were going alone. The experience is so different alone, the journey so much deeper and you grow that bit more. Your thoughts on solo travel being balancing are really interesting. So many people who are afraid to travel solo worry about eating alone and the like, for me the hard bit is allowing myself to do what makes me happy, in comparison everything after that is easy.

    Reply
  • Taylor April 18, 2014, 3:03 am

    More power to all the “Julia’s” of the world travelling alone is truly wonderful. Company is good also but sometimes solo you branch out and do and see different things and talk to different people. Lovely photos. I’ve been to Tasmania it’s a lovely state .

    Reply
  • Susan @ Travel Junkette April 18, 2014, 9:03 pm

    Love this post, Torre! I’m a very outgoing and extroverted person by nature, so traveling alone is always a great exercise for me. It forces me to have some quiet and look inward, which is so essential for growth! And being in nature makes it extra powerful.

    Reply
  • Erin April 19, 2014, 6:53 pm

    I would love a solo adventure. I did study abroad in Buenos Aires for six months and even though I made great friends and lived with a host family, some of my favorite times were exploring the city on my own. I’d easily spend hours walking through barrios, stopping at cafes, sunbathing in the park. I think that was the first time in my life that I realized how much I enjoy being alone.

    Reply
  • Sheri April 22, 2014, 1:49 pm

    This was a beautiful article Torre. Thank you!

    Reply
  • Jessica April 23, 2014, 1:24 am

    Great post!
    I too think it is important to do something on your own even when you are in a relationship. The sad part though is that if you tell somebody that you are in a foreign country on your own and your significant other is not with you, then the person automatically assumes that there must be something wrong with your relationship. If there wasn’t you would be travelling together!
    It is kind of difficult to explain sometimes why it is totally okay to go on an adventure by yourself and that you are also happy with your partner…

    Reply
  • Alba Marie April 25, 2014, 8:44 pm

    Not sure about camping for a month (due to my inability to read a compass or start a fire on my own…) but I do solo travel throughout Europe a lot, and I actually prefer it. That way, I get to do the itinerary I want to do, no compromises. My idea of travelling is being active morning until evening to soak in as much of the local culture as possible, walking every inch of the town, getting overly excited about architecture and art, eating weird food, and filling my memory card with hundreds of photos…though this sometimes makes me an annoying travel companion. While it’s nice to visit friends in other places, I rather enjoy travelling by my lonesome! And I’m not alone at the restaurant; I always have my best friend with me, my book!

    Reply
  • Allane Milliane April 26, 2014, 3:17 pm

    In love with your blog!

    Reply
  • Adenue May 5, 2014, 9:31 am

    Quite an interesting captures, it’s rare to see such panoramic views in a season like these but great findings..

    Reply
  • Jorja Alcorn May 25, 2014, 7:58 am

    I don’t have the nerve to travel alone but I got inspired by the things you wrote. I might try traveling alone soon. :D Thanks for the tips.

    Reply
  • Savi of Bruised Passports June 10, 2014, 11:45 am

    Gorgeous photos- this makes me want to visit Tasmania, alone :-)

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  • Echo Santos June 17, 2014, 6:58 am

    Good read. Travelling alone gives you time to reflect and look within yourself.

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  • Elise June 18, 2014, 4:48 pm

    I really admire people who can go out and travel completely on their own. My younger sister got on a little plane and flew to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada just last month. I thought that was pretty cool of her, but she’s always been the more adventurous sibling of the both of us.

    I have no problem being alone at all (and actually prefer it) but I haven’t jumped on the solo travel bandwagon just yet. Maybe one day soon!

    Reply
  • Mr.B June 24, 2014, 10:29 pm

    I remember my big trip to India on my own. One of my friend canceled our plan three month before the trip, so I had to do alone!

    I was shocked and thrilled by the fact taking this “risk”. When I got there I figured out how weak I was, but in the end of it I become much stronger.

    In my opinion to travel alone is a best thing you could do to find yourself. Especially if your self-esteem is at stake.
    No I don’t mean these cliché trips to ashrams and doing yoga for half a year. It’s great for retired middle aged people, but young people should step out of their comfort zone by doing an epic journey which is more challenging.

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  • Rakmoddin June 25, 2014, 4:37 pm

    Travelling alone is just amazing and I too love travelling around my city to capture nature, beauty and fresh atmosphere.

    Excellent piece of writing! It really inspired me.

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  • Rita Burley July 3, 2014, 10:17 pm

    Torre, going back to the 1950′s I travelled overland from England to India by bus where my husband to be was one of the 12 passengers. We were one of the first bus’ to go overland . Some years later we returned to England bought a motorcaravan and with two children repeated the adventure. Loads of adventures some repeatable and some not. I am 82 now and still get itchy feet. Travelled up untilI was 80. The last few years adventured on my own and loved it.

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  • Ronny July 12, 2014, 11:34 pm

    I don’t understand people that are scared to do anything without the accompaniment of another person … I’m all about the solo travel!

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  • Mikki Brammer July 13, 2014, 4:57 pm

    Such an inspiring story … I hope that everyone gets the opportunity to travel alone for an extended period at least once in their life. For me, it gave me a wonderful new insight into my own thoughts and identity, and a confidence in myself that I could face challenges alone. Plus, I’ve met some of my greatest friends while travelling alone, whom I might have never encountered if I’d been travelling with a friend!

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  • Kelly July 16, 2014, 1:58 am

    Love this! I came back (three months ago already!) from 10 weeks of travelling on my own. It was such a huge challenge and I had no idea how I would go, but I loved it. It was truly empowering to take myself into the world and just be. As it turns out I wasn’t alone that much – I met loads of people along the way and had so many experiences that I will remember forever :) Love your photos btw! x

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  • Manuela July 24, 2014, 10:13 am

    I’ve never travelled alone. The only thing I did was going on two stays abroad in San Diego and in Madrid. But after 1-2 days I already met a lot of people (from my country), so I was never alone. Last year, my best friend went alone to Paris to work there for some weeks and when she told me that she always went to bars and clubs by herself, I said the same as your friend. But I think in future I will definitely give it a try and do the same.

    Reply
  • Michela of Rocky Travel Blog August 13, 2014, 1:28 pm

    Love this post. I started travelling alone in my twenties and over the years have become addicted to solo trips. I truly cannot think of stopping going it solo. For me it is the only way that helps me find inner balance and as you say, naturally feel good with uncomfortable feelings.

    Reply
  • Bali Attractions August 30, 2014, 5:38 am

    Your photos took me on a amazing place!

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  • De'Jav September 10, 2014, 11:31 am

    I think when traveling solo you get a different perspective of the places you see and get a sense of yourself. FYI the pictures you have are amazing.
    http://adventuresofdejav.com

    Reply