Home » Going solo: the joys of travelling by yourself

Going solo: the joys of travelling by yourself

written by Marianna Jamadi June 21, 2016

I realized something on my Intrepid trip. I am most comfortable when I am uncomfortable. When I’m off balance. Unsure. When I’m vulnerable. Basically, when I’m traveling.

Throwing yourself into the world with wild abandon is exciting, terrifying and (if you’re doing it right) life-changing. Especially if you’re doing it by yourself. When you travel solo, you move through borders and different cultures, picking up scraps of language, trying new food, experimenting, seeing things you’ve only seen in history books. Seeing things you never knew existed.

Those are the external benefits. But it’s the internal ones that last the longest. It’s self discovery that keeps your roots grounded and your branches growing. You don’t just learn about places. You learn about the way in which you react to them, how you fit into the world. How do I feel here? Anxious? Comfortable? Where will I be tomorrow? How do I get from A to B?

When you travel solo you feel vulnerable, and it’s through that vulnerability that you become strong. It’s just you. You’ve got to depend on yourself – and sometimes put up with yourself. You have to carry your own bags (the emotional ones too) and day-in and day-out it’s you that’s at the helm. It’s a constant balance of fear and freedom. Where do I want to go? What do I want to do? You realize that you’re answering and catering to your own dreams and desires, and that’s a pretty liberating feeling. It’s not to say that it’s all a breeze. You will stumble, be challenged, and probably want to give up. You might get tired of your own company (or just flat out tired). Travel pains are part of the deal. You can’t get strong if you’re never sore.

Solo-tarvel-with-Intrepid,-Peru---Marianna-Jamadi

Solo-travel-with-Intrepid,-Peru---Marianna-Jamadi-2

It’s also good to know that traveling solo doesn’t necessarily mean traveling alone. When you have the freedom to be yourself, you find yourself in situations with like-minded people, people you’d never have met if you traveled with a friend, or stayed on the couch at home. You’ll stumble across a person, a family, or a community that you embrace, and that embraces you back. It’s through these chance encounters that we understand the power of connection and the importance of human experience. The gap between you starts to diminish. You may not speak the same language, but you all have a story to tell, affection to share, and lives that matter.

The universe has a funny way of putting good things in front of you when you take risks. I’m sure glad I took this one.

Marianna travelled on our 21-day Peru Encompassed tour. Check out the itinerary here.

Words and images c/o Marianna Jamadi.

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11 comments

Nathan Brayshaw August 18, 2017 - 10:19 am

That video is BEAUTIFUL! <3
As much as I love travelling with my little family (my daughter has been backpacking since she was 5 years old), my best adventures have been solo. I think you just push your boundaries more when you travel alone. Those experiences are unique.

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Dafne August 8, 2017 - 2:45 am

I am 66 years old, this past spring I went to Dubai and AbuDabi by myself, love it! Went on a camel safari and snow ski indoors, got to talk to many wonderful people
I past years I had done few road trips throughout the USA , one of them lasting 19 days and 4,500miles, all solo. Love it!
I do have friends and family, I just came back from a cruise to Alaska with 12 wonderful people
I was in Peru last month with 24 friends, it was a lot of fun
But i love my trips with me,myself and I ❤️

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Catherine Fraser May 16, 2017 - 4:15 am

In January 2017 just after the new year I left home to travel alone to Vietnam I am a 60 year old female.I started in the south in Ho Chi Minn ,then off to Cambodia to see Ankhor then back to Ho Chi Minn then flew to Pho Quoc Island for 8 amazing days.I had nothing booked ahead when i left the island.I took a bus to the ferry then another bus to Can Tho for Tet. I traveled next to Danang then caught the local bus to Hoi An.Spent 6 truly amazing days wandering around riding a complimentary bike from the hotel.I hired a local tourist car to take me over the pass through the mountains on to Hue.From there I caught the train to Dong Hoi ..I wanted to go to the national park Phong Nah Ke Bang.I was supposed to be picked up by the hostel but no luck…a taxi this time.i was probably the first white hair that stayed at Easy Tiger.Folks the park trip was the highlight I got to see all the national park on the back of a motorcycle thanks to the Phong Nha Riders who wait for you when you visit the caves.The beach at Dong Hoi is beautiful,very clean and not developed at all like Danang.The airport surprised me only one plane on the tarmac ..the one to Hanoi.Hanoi was vibrant ,cleaner and had loads of green spaces that Saigon lacked.Next I took the night train to Sapa,they let you off in Lao Cai so I caught a ride up to see the Sunday market in Bac Ha.I returned to Sapa for several days and took in all the mountain splendour I could handle.Back to Hanoi via night train then on to Halong for an overnight cruise .I flew home to wintery Nova Scotia I had been away 52 days and felt like I had run out of time.I stayed in hostels /nice hotels …hotels that advertised as nice.Someone told me befor I left that you have to really like yourself if you are going to travel alone ..well I like that I did this.I met many people on my travels people talk to you if you are alone,met a lot of young couples to told me they hadn’t met anyone because they just talked to each other.So intrepid travellers just book that trip !

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Rebecca Shapiro May 16, 2017 - 5:05 am

Hi Catherine, thank you for that lovely message! Your adventures sound absolutely fantastic – keep enjoying them!

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Laura August 10, 2017 - 5:22 am

How wonderful Catherine! I am planning on visiting Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and possibly the Philippines next year! So excited!

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Fran May 15, 2017 - 4:10 am

Marianna, you articulated my own thoughts about what it means to travel alone. My family and girlfriends say they admire my confidence but little did they know that sometimes I was just scared enough to prove to myself I could do it. My biggest challenge has always been trying to really get the opportunity to learn from locals. I guess that means I’m just too scared to venture into some places for fear of my own safety. Following my gut has always been my mantra when travelling. Thank you.

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Bonnie Davies May 14, 2017 - 4:55 am

Are any of these trips suitable for a senior women?

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Patrick June 25, 2016 - 11:49 am

I really love this. Looking forward to taking my first solo mini-trip this summer. Thanks for sharing

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Mari Abeyta June 24, 2016 - 12:45 pm

This writer beautifully captures the essence of solo travelling and how challenging (but also how incredibly rewarding!) it can be. As an admirer of her work I was able to witness her journey through Peru on Instagram months ago, which is in part why I feel so compelled to go there. One thing bothers me though; at the end of the article your website claims she did this trip alone, but in reality this was a part of a more extensive trip taken with a friend. It’s a little disconcerting to me as someone who was up until now very interested in this exact trip (which I intended to take by myself). Why misrepresent this experience?

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Emily Kratzmann June 27, 2016 - 9:59 am

Hi Mari! Thank you for this thoughtful response. It was such a pleasure meeting and travelling with Mari for the first time, her work is beautiful. Mari travelled with us in Peru with a fellow writer/photographer, they were there capturing the essence of the Intrepid Travel experience. From local food, to solo travel, to authentic homestays. Along the way she met people fellow travellers (now new friends) from around the world, our team of local leaders and local families. We’ve removed the “solo” distinction and apologise for the confusion!

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Jenny Newell June 23, 2016 - 10:58 pm

Marianna, your article on solo travelling portrays exactly how it is for solo travellers. You certainly have to rely on yourself but the people you meet and the experiences you have would not happen otherwise. A very well written piece. I often travel on my own.

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