‘Tis the Travel Season: Be it Near or Far — Go It Alone

By Gwenn Voelckers

It’s that time of year — the travel season — and I’m already contemplating an August adventure with just “me, myself and I.” It might be a weekend away for a change of pace or a slightly longer excursion to clear my head and broaden my horizons.

I look forward to my solo summer retreats, and always return home feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on what’s next.

If you’ve never traveled alone, I highly recommend it.

Time with yourself on the road is ripe with opportunities for self-discovery and growth. And it can be great fun! 

Here are a few good reasons to pack your bags and head out on your own:

•You call the shots. When you travel alone, you are free to see and do whatever tickles your fancy. Your decisions and itinerary are your own. And when that’s the case, you are reminded of who you are, what you enjoy doing the most and what you like least.

When you travel with others, their interests may not always align with yours, and precious time can be consumed with the inevitable negotiations that come with trying to satisfy everyone’s needs and desires. Travel alone, and you’ll discover the joy of listening to and following your own heart.

You meet new people more easily. I’ve discovered this time and time again. On my own, I’m more inclined to strike up a conversation with other travelers and “locals.” As a result, I’ve met so many nice, interesting and helpful people. And I often come away with great ideas and tips on new things to do, places to visit and restaurants to try.

When traveling with friends and family, we have a natural tendency to stay focused on each other and may, therefore, lose the chance to meet people we might otherwise have met and enjoyed.

You can release your adventurous spirit. On your own (with no one watching), you may be willing to try some things outside your comfort zone — take a balloon ride, soar on a zip line, join a “for singles only” biking tour or swim with dolphins.

While not exactly a thrill seeker, I have sampled some pretty exotic food, wrestled Old Paint into submission on a horse trail in Costa Rica, repelled down a Colorado cliff, and white-knuckled it in a white-water raft.

Likewise, you can find some heavenly time to yourself. As a solo traveler, the opportunity for a tranquil, soul-soothing retreat is within your grasp. This is a little more up my alley, and I welcome the chance to spend as much quiet time — “me time” — as I wish. Solo trips afford this guilt-free opportunity.

Want to sleep in until noon, sip tea with a good book all afternoon in a Paris cafe, enjoy a spa day or take a peaceful hike by yourself ? Go for it, because you can.

You learn a new language faster. Je peux en témoigner! (I can vouch for that!). When traveling alone in France, I was forced to make sense of the language. It was either that or go hungry. Without a traveling companion to help with translation, I was on my own.

While I am far from fluent in French, I can now express simple greetings, ask for directions, and order a croque-monsieur — a popular French hot ham and cheese sandwich. Want to learn a language more quickly? Travel alone.

Here’s a tip: Download a language translation app or tool. There are many excellent (and free) options available. Check ‘em out!

You build your confidence and sense of independence. Even a small jaunt can boost your self-confidence. All the decisions are yours, including your budget. You decide how to get where you’re going, where to stay, and how much to spend on transportation, food, accommodations, and things to do.

In no time, you’ll discover your own resourcefulness, ability to solve problems, and capacity to spend some time alone. The experience will challenge your limits, creativity, and coping ability — all of which will help you become a stronger person and grow as a traveler.

So, I hope you’ll consider a little solo travel this month. Set out on an adventure with a spring in your step and anticipation for all the hidden treasures you’ll discover. Be it near or far . . . go it alone!

Gwenn Voelckers is the founder and facilitator of Live Alone and Thrive empowerment workshops for women held throughout the year in Mendon. To purchase her new book “Alone and Content” visit Amazon.com. For information about her upcoming workshops or to invite her to speak, visit aloneandcontent.com, call 585-624-7887, or email gvoelckers@rochester.rr.com.