Traveling Solo Seemed Far Too Overwhelming (And Lonely)

Peggy McPartland

I’ve always wanted to travel and see the world. I grew up in a small, rural town and couldn’t wait to get out of it. I wanted to be away from the small-mindedness, the conservative thoughts and the oppressed feeling everyone seemed to have. I wanted to explore big cities, meet new people and become fluent in another language. There was an incredible world out there and I was missing out! 

Instead, as crazy young people do, I got married. Unfortunately, it was to someone who I was incompatible with on almost every level.  It took awhile, but I finally realized life didn’t have to be like this and we parted ways.

But then I was alone. So I waited. And I waited some more. I knew some day Prince Charming would come along and sweep me off my feet. He’d be tall, dark, handsome and bilingual! We’d travel the world, spend time in exotic places, hike tall mountains and he’d feed me grapes as he looked longingly into my eyes.  I read that somewhere so I knew it must be true! But I’m still waiting. Damn.

Fortunately, I came to my senses and realized that if I waited any longer, I would never experience the world in the way I wanted to. I would never hike those mountains, learn that language, know the incredible people of the world and might even (gasp!) become a bitter old woman. Yikes! That was enough to get me off my butt!

I checked out and for the first time in my life was surrounded by like-minded people! I hiked, skied, snowshoed, backpacked, volunteered and met amazing people from all over the world. If you haven’t checked them out, do so. Now. It will change your life! I promise.

I began to find my place in the world and trust who I am. When I had the opportunity to go to Thailand with a friend, I jumped at it. Unfortunately, our travel styles were polar opposites. Seriously! She preferred to plan where to stay, where to eat, and on what day. I’m not known to be a planner in my day to day life so there was no way in hell I could be on a schedule while traveling. It just wasn’t going to work and I’d pretty much decided to skip the whole thing. I could always wait some more. Maybe Prince Charming would come this time!

Fortunately, I have friends who threatened to kick my butt if I didn’t go. They assured me Southeast Asia is one of the easiest places in the world to travel alone. The more people I talked to, the more women I found who’d traveled solo. They were not only completely safe, but loved every minute of their travels and the freedom that traveling solo brought them. If they could do it, then surely I could!

So I booked my flight and, yes, set off to Southeast Asia alone!

From the moment I set foot in Thailand, people were kind, generous and open. It amazed me. Here I was a strange white woman who didn’t speak the language and yet people wanted to engage me, know about me and what I thought of their beautiful country. They welcomed me, helped me when I got lost, and invited me into their lives.

Too many of us are convinced the world is a dangerous place to be; that we’re better off staying home with the covers over our heads. We’re selling ourselves short by buying into overactive imaginations and letting fear and uncertainty keep us from experiencing life fully.

The freedom of traveling alone is amazing. You’re accountable to no one but yourself! You eat when you want, sleep when you’re tired and see and do whatever seems right at the moment. It’s an incredible feeling!

“Alone” and “lonely” are two very different words. It’s a big beautiful world out there and even if you strike out on your own, chances are you won’t be alone for long!

So book that flight. Trust yourself. Trust your instincts. Trust the people around you. And just go!

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12 Responses to “Traveling Solo Seemed Far Too Overwhelming (And Lonely)”

  • MaartenNo Gravatar Says:

    Hi Peggy,
    great post! I find your style of writing compelling. Good luck with your blog.

  • Niall DohertyNo Gravatar Says:

    Love this, Peggy. Good on ya for going it alone. Traveling solo definitely has its advantages. Looking forward to visiting that part of the world myself.

    • Peggy McPartlandNo Gravatar Says:

      Thanks, Niall! Definitely plan some time in S.E. Asia if you get the chance. It’s an incredible part of the world!

  • UrsulaNo Gravatar Says:

    Hi Peggy,
    I love your post and how open you write about “Prince Charming” and how you finally decided to travel alone! CONGRATS on taking action!!!

    I also backpacked alone some years ago. At the beginning I thought about 6 weeks but ended up traveling for 9 month – solo. But, you know solo does not always mean solo. You always meet people on the way, have interesting and strange conversations but one thing is sure. You will not be the same person as before because you have seen and learned soooo much more now than the person you have been some time ago.

    Keep exploring! :)

    • Peggy McPartlandNo Gravatar Says:

      Ah, the elusive Prince Charming! ;-)

      I admire that you were able to travel for 9 months solo. Not everyone can do that!

  • UrsulaNo Gravatar Says:

    Hi Peggy,
    Things just happened and I was curious about the world out there.
    But I have to admit that it was not just wonderful to travel. If you travel solo you can do what you want but you are also responsible for everything like finding a room even if you are tired.


  • Loree WillsNo Gravatar Says:

    Hey Sis,
    Great blog! And, I’m enjoying the opportunity to get to know you better through your postings. Regarding the fear element of going solo, we tend to become more brave as we get older:)…..

  • AlouiseNo Gravatar Says:

    I love reading about how people get into solo travel. I think it always seems much scarier when you’re on the outside looking in. Glad you took a chance and had a great time in SE Asia.

    “”Alone” and “lonely” are two different words” – couldn’t have said that better myself.

  • Maggie DodsonNo Gravatar Says:

    Hi Peggy, I’m so happy to catch up with you at last and to see that you did everything you said you were going to do ……….right down to emptying the cupboard! I’m going to look for your card and email you soon. It’s so true there’s a big difference between ‘alone’ and ‘lonely’ – you can be lonely in a roomful of people and never lonely when you’re alone.

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