I love taking solo trips. I think they are great for the spirit and can lead to adventures that maybe would not have been possible when traveling in a group. That being said, I have personally experienced a slight downside to solo travel. There’s a certain guilt that can arise when you travel alone that starts when something doesn’t go exactly how you planned and continues on through each misstep or change in itinerary.
When I took my solo trip to Iceland and Copenhagen last year, I had a fantastic time. I came back knowing that I did everything I could and saw what I wanted to see and enjoyed myself. However, while I was actually on the trip, there were definitely moments of self-doubt and moments where I questioned my choices.
While I was in Iceland, there was a night when I was just wandering around, people watching. A gentleman I passed in the street, who was clearly intoxicated, lunged at me and grabbed my arm, mumbling in Icelandic. I cursed at him and speed walked away, heading straight back to my hotel. This cut my evening plans short and sent me into a tailspin of questioning what I was even doing and why I was there. I started the next day in a funk, but eventually pulled myself out of it, though the doubt hung over me for the rest of the trip.
Once I got to Copenhagen, even though I was in an amazing city, there were times when I just wanted to fill my time to make it go faster. I was a little homesick and I missed Mike, and I felt guilty for those feelings. Shouldn’t I be having the best time? Was I less independent because I missed the familiar?
What helped me most, funnily enough, was reading Bill Bryson’s “Neither Here Nor There” about his own solo travels through Europe. Mr. Bryson’s hilarious accounts of his hits and misses on his trip made me laugh and comforted me, especially as I read them while at a restaurant alone. I found solace in the fact that many other people have had low moments when they travel solo, and that not everything can be the highlight reel it might appear.
That’s the purpose of this little note. If you have taken a solo trip and felt guilty for any downtime or for any moment spent homesick or any night in, you’re in good company. Solo trips are great because you can do whatever the hell you want and no one is there to judge you, so don’t judge yourself.
Have you ever felt this way on solo trips? How did you cope?