You Need You as Your Best Friend

Noemie in the distance

Noemie celebrating the thrill of hiking Patagonia.

Let’s face it, your longest relationship in life won’t be with a sister or brother, partner or friend. It will be with yourself.

From birth to death, you are with you. You will keep your many confidences, your dreams of the night and your dreams of daylight. Perhaps your missteps (you alone can really complete any forgiveness needed) and your victories (the ones that are huge to you but too small to share).

Your relationship with yourself is crucial to your happiness. It is fundamental to successful relationships with others. Your relationship with yourself is just one of the reasons I suggest you travel solo.

Travel solo and get to know yourself.

As I travel solo, I get to know myself better, to like myself more, to be happier in my own skin and with my own company. And as my relationship with me improves, I become more confident. I am better able to cope with the small and large challenges of life. I am also more comfortable with the fact that I’m not perfect.

So how does this happen in practice?

Traveling solo I have time to gain perspective. I see how I operate when no one is looking. I have more time to look at the intentions behind my thoughts, words and deeds. Because I am out of my normal life, I can see them, assess them and tweak them to be a better me. Traveling solo supports continual growth.

You’d like examples?

Traveling solo, I discovered physical capabilities I never thought I had. In Torres del Paine I hiked with Noemie who is 20 years my junior. She had grown up hiking the Alps in France. Clearly, she was the superior hiker. When we were climbing to the towers, she was way ahead of me – out of sight. But I continued, slowly making my way to the top. I doubted my ability at times but I made it.  My self-concept changed.

Traveling solo I have had more opportunities to see myself as the caring person I hope to be. I seem to have more occasions to help complete strangers than I do in my family/friend bubble at home. I have adopted people on my travels. With a more leisurely schedule I’ve been able to help – sometimes for an hour sometimes for many days. At home, helping can be like water to a fish – invisible. Traveling solo, it is more evident.

Traveling solo I meet more locals than I do traveling with others. I have time to sit with them and listen. I learn about their priorities of life and, often, as a I learn from people who don’t have the luxuries I enjoy, my priorities shift slightly too. This was my experience in India. I had the opportunity to reassess what is important and what isn’t.

So, as always, I encourage you to travel solo. To take the time to yourself to discover who you are now because you are not the person you were in your teens, a decade ago or even last year. I also encourage you to take the time to explore and practice who you want to be.





  • Faith

    I did a 6 month travel thru. Europe at the age of 70. I did not feel unsafe. Believe or not the main problem I had was unwanted attention from men.

  • Janice Waugh

    Hi Arleeda, You’re an inspiration. Good on you.

    Happy travels.

  • arleeda

    This is a great post and describes some of the rewards of solo travel. Now that I am almost 80 I choose to travel with “small groups” of people I don’t know because something could happen. But when I was in my 40s-60s, I enjoyed a lot of solo trips. Only my niece in my family likes to travel the way I do, my two children and grandchildren do not want to go anywhere. My 2nd husband liked to travel, but he is gone now so it is alone as part of a small group that I enjoy most now.

  • Janice Waugh

    Hi Liz. Many people travel solo into their 60s and beyond – but it is important to travel at your comfort level. There’s lots on the blog about safety and I dedicate a whole section to it in The Solo Traveler’s Handbook which is available at any online store. By the way, I’ll be 58 next month.


  • Liz Nichols

    Thats exactly what I want to do for my 60th..I keep reading and learning from Janices posts. Its taking that first step and knowing how I will survive financially?? Im hoping home stays will entice me away for longer.

  • Liz Nichols

    I would really like to know tho how many decide to do this approaching 60?? Like is my biggest concern.

  • Kirti

    Yep, you hit the nail on the head!! I can relate to this post. Everyone thought I was crazy when I closed up my company and decided to travel the world alone and do the “solo”. I love it! Would I do this again. For sure! Well written and much appreciated.

  • davelalande

    I also enjoyed reading this posts and the comments. It’s wonderful to see such positive and respectful comments. I find the comments refreshing compared to blog / article comments I read regularly.

    I also am a solo traveler / hiker / camper, not all the time but much of the time. I spend roughly 3 weeks a year in the woods and more than 7 days in the mountain back country in a row, alone. I love it. I tell people you cannot appreciate how much of an artist God is until your sitting for hours next to a mountain lake just enjoying the views. Additionally, you never pray more than you do when your hiking in the mountains and you’re never lonely because God is with you the whole time.

    I know your blog has a particular tilt / feel about female solo travelers, but I enjoy reading the content, looking at the pictures and reading the comments. Thanks a bunch.

  • Faith Dugan

    This post really struck home with me:) I can relate to everything you say. On my recent trip, I met many people some just in passing and some with a connection that will be there forever although I may never see them again. A few, I helped in small ways for me but I feel as if I made a difference. As i was reading my journal the other day I found a message I wrote to myself: I am so content and I enjoy the company (mine).

  • Carol Barison

    hey Janice. I’ve been enjoying your blog for some time now, I thought I should drop a line, to let you know I think you’re awesome. Like the girl, Elizabeth, said: To be with yourself, rather than by yourself. There’s something really enchanting about a person who is her best friend. Life treats you like you treat yourself, right?

  • Angela

    Thank you to ALL for the positive accolades of your “SELF” discovery and for validating that I am NOT “NUTZ” for wanting to plan my 50th b-day and maybe spending it alone in my world (but with strangers in their’s.) Costa Rica may be my destiantion.. I’m open for suggestions.

  • Lilybay

    Thank you, I am just setting out on my first solo journey. Your posts are inspiring and affirming.

  • Daniela

    Wonderful post, very inspiring…. Thank you!

  • Janice Waugh

    Yes, it’s the unexpected that can make solo travel so great.

  • Elizabeth Avery


    I so much agree that solo travel can make for a great “Group of One”. I view it that I am “with myself” not “by myself”.
    Elizabeth Avery

  • Kelly

    I love this post. I am just setting out so it reminds me of the wonderful intangibles that could result from the journey.

  • blaise

    I am a solo traveler
    ….most of the time
    Though I travel alone
    …I’m lonely none of the time
    I meet many people
    …for short periods of time
    Some are good for sound advice
    …with them I spend some time
    Others are very shallow
    …for them I find no time

    Alone with nature and solitude
    …such a lovely time
    Keeping my own counsel
    …a very rewarding time
    Two loyal & faithful companions
    …most of the time
    No matter where I travel
    ….no matter the time

    I have a center of gravity
    …she can be found at any time
    Personally or electronically
    …making the most of time
    Always there with sound advice
    …every single time
    I think of her not often
    …rather all the time
    For without her love & counsel
    …I’d give life no more time

  • Joanne Gardner

    Totally agree. Over the years of traveling solo my confidence has grown and my ability to connect with strangers ( friends not yet met) has gotten way better and easier. Many people don’t understand it but don’t let that stop you. It enriches your life and teaches you about you.

  • Hotel le president

    What a lovely blog it is! Its really a fun, reading your post. Thanks for sharing :-)

  • This American Girl

    Love, love, love this post. I travel solo often and people usually think I’m crazy for doing so. I too have learned about myself, met incredible people, and pushed myself beyond my comfort zone when traveling alone. I’ve written some blog posts about being happy being alone and also how to travel the world alone as a woman. This post definitely resonated with me, thanks for sharing!