I Was a Lazy Traveler… until I went solo.

People waiting for bus.

Figuring out the inter-city bus system in Chile was a challenge. I played “spot the gringo” and got all the information I needed

Confession time.

I was a lazy traveler.

Looking back on my trips with family and friends, before traveling solo, I can’t recall how I navigated them.

Of course I remember the trips but I can’t recall the specifics of where I went and the people I met in the same way as I can of my solo travels. And the reason, I believe, is that I wasn’t completely responsible for them.

Decisions were made collaboratively. Responsibilities were shared – you do this, I’ll do that. My attention was diverted by the people I was with.

But, traveling solo, it’s all up to me. I now remember more clearly the places I visit and the routes I take because I planned them and then I traveled them.

I live my solo travels more fully.

Navigating my road trip of the American southwest was a great part of the trip.

Less lazy, more mindful.

And as I travel solo I am not only more aware of my experience but also of how I relate to my destination – the culture, environment and its people.

Traveling solo has forced me to be less lazy, to work harder for my travels and get more from the experience. Here’s how…

  1. Researching the basics. Planning how I’ll get there, how to transit from airport to city, booking my accommodation, what kind of food I’ll eat, what the local art scene is like… all these details of planning, of visualizing how the elements of my trip will fit together, help me live them with less stress and, ultimately, more awareness of the experience.
  2. Studying maps. I love maps. Studying maps before I leave not only gives me greater security as I travel alone, it also gives me an idea of where things are in a city and how much can be done in a day. It allows me to focus on what I experience rather than figuring out the navigation.
  3. Buying local. Having planned well, I have a better understanding of how to be supportive of the local economy. Buying local crafts and eating local food are two ways of being a respectful traveler. This often means going out of my way – something I may be willing to do but a partner may not be.
  4. Meeting locals. I may want to travel alone but that’s doesn’t mean that I always want to be alone. Traveling solo I make an extra effort to connect with locals and other travelers.  Doing so makes me more mindful of my position in the world, how fortunate I am and causes me to go out of my way to contribute how I can.
  5. Acting spontaneously. Traveling alone I am more aware of my energy and interests. When a surprising opportunity arises, I can choose whether to act on it.  And because I’ve done my research, I know the impact of that change in plan will have.

Yes, since traveling solo I am more inclined to research, study, plan, buy local, meet people from all over the world and, yes, be spontaneous. As I travel solo I am often aware of how much the fact of being solo has made me less lazy and more engaged in my travel experience.

I hiked and camped with Noemie who I met on the Navimag Ferry. We spent the first night in the campground below the Towers.

I hiked and camped with Noemie who I met on the Navimag Ferry. It was not my original plan but I was so glad we did.

 

 

  • http://solotravelerblog.com Janice Waugh

    Some solo travelers go with a group. Some go independently. If you’re interested in the former, make sure you sign up for the newsletter (see the bar across the top of the page). We send out the Solo Traveler Advisory of Deals on the 3rd Monday of every month.

  • Saro Gunaseelan

    I came across this blog from Facebook, and I find this to be a real treasure. While you have the freedom and comfort of doing things your own way (not to mention the spontaneity), do you purchase organized tours from tour operators?

  • http://solotravelerblog.com Janice Waugh

    So nicely put.

  • http://jamesbowyeruk.wix.com/jamesbowyer James Bowyer

    I love the sense of freedom and choice solo travel can bring. I often feel that the ‘smaller’ day to day travel experiences bring the bigger memories especially when experienced with other travelers.

  • Chatoyant

    Wonderful article; I can certainly relate to the examples!

  • http://solotravelerblog.com Janice Waugh

    Thanks Germaine. And I love receiving comments. Cheers!

  • Germaine Tan

    Yes… everytime i travel with friends or family, i just want to take hire a cab to take us everywhere. By travelling alone, i get to stay in a backpackers instead of hotel and navigate the country by public transport and get to connect with the locals and other traveller. Travelling alone gives me the best travelling experience. Love ur blog!

  • magimay

    I am goins with a friend to the mediteranean on a tour and then travelling on solo through england and ireland . This will be my first solo experience …i am so inspired with your posts and it is the travelling solo i am looking forward to most!!. I have chosen england as first solo destination because their will be no language barriers to negotiate for this 55 year old newbie new zealander. Thank you for the information, inspiration and pleasure i get from your blog.

  • Pingback: Solo Travel()

  • https://twitter.com/TravelHistorian TravellingHistorian

    Travelling solo is more work but it is so much fun. Yes it forces you to work
    more but it is so rewarding. Good point about being spontaneous: I plan some
    spontaneous time, have a list of possible places to visit or do and then I can
    either pick off the list or go with something the hotel or a local has
    mentioned! More work but worth it!!!

  • Trisha Andrus

    Reading this blog I realized these all apply to me! Thanks Janice Waugh!