A guest blog post by Onward Travel’s summer intern, Caitlin Sweeney, Cornell SHA ’19
Traveling alone can be nerve-racking, unpredictable, uncomfortable and lonely.
Once you take the plunge the unpredictability becomes spontaneity. Nerve-wracking becomes exciting. Being uncomfortable becomes a welcome challenge. The loneliness becomes courage to branch out and make lasting friendships, or the confidence to be alone. All of the downfalls of traveling solo become the greatest benefits.
It can be hard sometimes to align your interests, schedules and resources with those of your friends. This can be a barrier to traveling with friends. Onward Traveler Tim Niles wasn’t always up for traveling alone, but as the travel bug nagged him and friends’ schedules didn’t line up with his own he decided to just give it a try.
Tim’s says that his first solo trip was pretty terrible. When he asked his travel agent to send him somewhere warm and mildly all inclusive, he ended up in Cancun for a long weekend. Tim recalls it was, “not a good place to be solo, but I didn’t have any problem finding spots at the bar or tables for dinner!” Small experiences like not having anyone to watch his things while he went swimming or sitting in a hotel room with spotty wifi trying to determine his next sightseeing destination made him realize the importance of planning and preparation.
Tim enjoyed participating in our “Beer Geeks in Britain” tour with Founders Brewing in June 2017. The social group suited him well and he enjoyed solo, exploratory walks during unscheduled time, plus camaraderie and shared experiences with the group throughout the week.
Tim recommends someone looking to start solo traveling starts with a hybrid trip. Go somewhere to meet a friend, but add a couple days onto your trip to explore alone. Meet up with locals who know something about the area. Travel alone with strangers on a group excursion.
On the flip side, traveling alone may not suit you at all. Many find sharing the experiences with fellow travelers and not having to worry about a thing is the best part. We always have solo travelers on our tours and it’s great fun as the group mixes and mingles. Jeannette Schacht has traveled with Onward many times, and she says she “loves the individual help and attention to detail. The travelers are all warm and friendly and look out for each other.”
Whether exploring a new city by yourself or joining an Onward group and making new friends… If you’re thinking about traveling alone, what’s stopping you?