Solo Travel Transformation – From Tentative First Trip to Bold Photography Safari

photo, image, susan portnoy, photography safari

Christopher Michel, one of the other photographers on this trip, took this picture of Susan.

I’m so excited to share this post (and one next week) by Susan Portnoy. Susan has been a long-time reader of solo traveler and a real supporter. She is also an incredible solo traveler who includes photography as a focus (please pardon the pun) of her travels.

You can read her blog, The Insatiable Traveler, fan her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. She also has many fabulous photos on Pinterest and Instagram. Oh, and if that doesn’t keep her busy enough, she is also a Huffington Post blogger.

And now, over to Susan…


I began traveling solo six years ago – by accident. It was not part of my travel plans.

You see, friends pulled out of a trip to Machu Picchu and I either had to go by myself, or not at all. It was a hard decision. Even though I am fairly independent – I eat alone in restaurants, I enjoy going to movies by myself and I’m comfortable in my own company – the thought of going to Peru alone stumped me. I didn’t know the language and I wanted to share the experience with friends.

One morning I made my decision. I would put off the trip until I could find someone to go with me. But by the afternoon I was really annoyed with myself. I wanted to go. I realized that if I let the situation stop me, I was the only one losing out.

So I went. Did I have a great time? Yes. Did I feel a little lonely now and then? Yes.  Was it a bit intimidating to walk around and eat alone in a strange country? Yes – at first. But, after a couple of days, I found my rhythm and I was off and running.

Solo Travel Is Mastered by Doing

If you think about it, traveling with loved ones or friends can be risky too. What if you fight? What if you really want to do something they don’t want to do? What if you’re a morning person and they’re best at night? Nothing is worse than spending your hard earned money and valuable time, frustrated by your traveling companion. The reality: no scenario is perfect.

Since my trip to Peru, I’ve gone solo to the Galapagos Islands, Costa Rica, Morocco, Turkey, Costa Rica, Tanzania, Guatemala, Belize, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Bhutan, Myanmar, Botswana and Kenya, in that order. Some places I explored on my own, for others I joined a group. Solo travel is my guilty pleasure. I go where I want, when it works best for me, and I don’t really compromise along the way. But it’s a process, one that you master by doing.

Sahara desert, photography safari

Morocco: Early morning on the Sahara and our Berber camel handler was walking his charges to another camp

Developing a Focus for Solo Travel – Photography

In recent years, photography has become an integral part of my travels. It’s a wonderful creative outlet, it’s challenging (with a capital C), and I can share my journeys in a way that people seem to enjoy.

With photography in the mix, I’ve modified how I decide on my next trip. My recipe for solo travel happiness:

  • Destinations that are on my bucket list
  • Photography enthusiasts to share the trip with
  • Instruction to improve my skills.

In September, Wild Eye, a photography safari company, invited me to see the great wildebeest migration with two of their professional photographers, and 7 other travelers. It would be a combination of Africa (of which I am slightly obsessed), wildlife (which I adore), and people who knew a lot more about wildlife photography than I. It was a no-brainer – I said yes!

Kenya: Thousands of wildebeests run, walk and leap into the Mara River during a crossing, anxious to reach the other side. It's a thrilling spectacle to watch.  photography safari

Kenya: Thousands of wildebeests run, walk and leap into the Mara River during a crossing, anxious to reach the other side. It’s a thrilling spectacle to watch.

On Safari Solo

I was excited but also nervous – a combo I’ve become very familiar with over the years. It’s natural. All the obvious fears went through my head. Would it be fun? Would I like the people? Would they like me? Would I take decent photos? The good news; it’s really hard to have a bad time when everyone is on the same page.

As it turns out, I was especially lucky. The other guests were witty, charming and fun. the Wild Eye vibe encouraged a sense of genuine camaraderie and friendship. Plus, I learned a lot about photography. Not just from the professionals, but from the other guests as well. I won’t lie; it’s not always a unanimous win. But, on every trip I’ve taken, I’ve always walked away with a new friend – and we often keep in touch.

What’s the takeaway here? Whether you choose to travel alone or it’s forced upon you, don’t fret, you’ve got a lot of options and it’s worth trying at least once. If you’re a novice soloist, I recommend planning a getaway through the filter of one of your passions. That way you’ll gravitate towards people and places that will organically be of interest and keep you engaged.

No matter how it turns out, you’ll be happy you gave it a shot.

Myanmar: Ladies from the village of Inle Lake paddle the many channels of their water-centric culture. photography safari

Myanmar: Ladies from the village of Inle Lake paddle the many channels of their water-centric culture.

  • Geeth

    Thank you. You have lot of nice phots

  • Swetha Reddy

    Bargain Online for the best hotels at
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  • Susan Portnoy

    Hi Olga! Thanks for your comment. I would love to check out your blog! :)

  • Susan Portnoy

    Thank you, Nancy!!!

  • Susan Portnoy

    Thank you for your kind comment and thank you for checking out my blog. :)))

  • Susan Portnoy

    I look forward to checking out your adventures! Have a wonderful time. Thank you for commenting. :)

  • Susan Portnoy

    Thank you so much! Really appreciate your following my blog. Means a lot. :)

  • Susan Portnoy

    Nothing is ever perfect and everyone must find their way when traveling. I like traveling with friends too, but really enjoy the freedom of traveling alone.

  • Lingo Live

    Very inspiring, especially your notes on how traveling with others can be risky too. A fresh perspective on going on your own!

  • Tim Cray

    You have capture really nice photographs and share lovely traveling tips .Just traveling to an exciting destination doesn’t guarantee you’re going to return home with dramatic photos.

    Royalty Free Stock Photos

  • Sarah

    Beautiful pics! Traveling solo is one of the best way to connect to one’s inner self. I too love to travel solo and connect with nature. I recently came back from Costa Rica. Costa Rica is one of the beautiful places on Earth to visit with lot of places and wildlife to explore. This is how it makes Costa Rica a perfect vacation destination .

  • Crif Johnson

    Amazing pictures shared and a great post indeed. I just loved reading your blog. Looking forward for your next blog.

  • Stephanie

    Great post. I love traveling- whether solo or alone- and am currently in the middle of my first solo trip abroad: 3 months in Italy. I like the idea of having a focus to your travels- mine has turned into art, history and language.

  • MOl S

    Beautiful pictures! I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog, as many of my travels are also solo.

  • Nancy Moon

    This is a wonderful post profiling Susan Portnoy’s travel story along with her beautiful images. Thank you.

  • Olga

    I simply love your blog. Great pictures. I just started to write one. I would be honoured if you would have a look at

    With best