Why all women should try travelling solo

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Female solo travel is on the rise.

A Booking.com survey in North America found that 65% of American women are booking solo travel trips, which are becoming especially popular among women in their 40s and 50s. Not only is solo female travel on the rise, but women are going beyond Europe and the US to more exotic locations, like India.

For female travellers, there is often some fear or nervousness that accompanies a solo journey and can get in the way of a woman deciding to book a trip for herself – a sentiment inspirational female travel writer Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, knows all too well:

”I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.”

Travelling solo can lead to some incredible experiences. It can send women on a journey of self-discovery (see Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything), giving them a renewed ambition and clear vision for what they want to get out of their lives. It can make them feel empowered and inspired (see Dolly Alderton, who loves a good solo trip).

As Alderton writes in SUITCASE: “I’m hooked on solo travel. I never feel as calm, as together, as self-reliant or as free than when I’m travelling on my own. It’s where I have my best ideas – and it’s where I can make sense of home.”

Here are five reasons women should book a solo trip, whether it’s a weekend in Paris or a yoga retreat in Bali....

READ MORE: What dads can do to help build girls’ confidence

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Travelling solo means no one dictates what you do – or when

As anyone who’s ever travelled with a partner, group of friends, or children will tell you, one of the frustrations of travel with other people is that you have to adhere to their schedules and preferences, at least on some level. There are compromises to be made – you go sightseeing one day to please one person, you do a nature walk at the crack of dawn the next to please another – and there is always a sense that you aren’t completely able to prioritise yourself and your desires.

Not so with solo travel: you can do anything, anytime – you can even alter your travel itinerary if you fall in love with a particular city or meet some incredible new friends who are going somewhere you hadn’t originally planned. That’s one of the most liberating things about solo travelling: the actual freedom, not just of getting away from a desk or your home city, but of being able to stop accommodating everyone else’s needs before you’re own. Bliss.

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Just because you’re alone doesn’t mean you’re lonely

Some women worry that travelling solo means isolating yourself from the rest of the world for days or weeks at a time, but savvy solo travellers know that in reality, you get the best of both worlds when you book a solo trip: the ability to have some peace, solitude and to read every bestselling book you’ve had on your wish list, as well as plenty of opportunities to connect with other people, whether it’s a friendly chat with the couple dining at the table next to you or the local jeweller whose crafts workshop you attended.

Women are skilful communicators, and that can translate into many new friends and memories on a solo travel trip – if that’s what you’re looking for. For your own peace of mind and security, make sure you alert friends and family back home to your plans each day (social media works, too). Remember, solo travel is also a chance to reconnect with people back home while you’re experiencing the world anew.

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Travelling solo can help you banish self-doubt for good

Women are still riddled with self-doubt, even when they’re doing just as well as men, studies continue to tell us. That self-doubt can manifest itself in everything from body confidence to career imposter syndrome. And for many women, that first instinct when you think about booking that solo holiday is worry: What if it’s lonely? What if you mess up the admin? What if it’s not worth it?

Solo travellers always say the confidence that comes from travelling on their own terms, conquering challenges and overcoming fears is one of the most rewarding benefits of solo travelling. Of course, the more you do it, the more confident you become. It helps you change your perspective on other aspects in your life and career: if you can navigate being a fish out of water culturally in a foreign land – and love the experience – you’ve not only realised how resourceful you are, but you’ve also proven to yourself that you can rely on yourself. Dolly Alderton says it best when describing her own solo-travel epiphany: “I am enough.”

READ MORE: Why 2019 is the year for female jock

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It can give you some direction when you’re lost

As some of the best travel books tell us, solo female travel can be so much more than just another holiday. It can be a soul-searching adventure that forces you to think about your past actions and what you want your future to look like. It can be a physical challenge that gives you a renewed energy and passion for life. It can be a spiritual journey that can help to assuage the all-consuming pain of a break-up or bereavement. And it can also provide that thing missing in day-to-day, hectic work and social life: time. Time to think and to reflect and to reevaluate and decide what you want to be doing and where you want to go – not on the open road, but when you get back home.

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It doesn’t have to be the most challenging journey of your life

While social media most certainly has played its part in inspiring more experiential and exciting travel, as well as encouraging the boost in solo travelling, including from individuals in a couple (see the rise of the “solomoon”), the travelling adventure of a lifetime for you doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s. Your exotic location could be a few days spent enjoying walks in the Brecon Beacons, or hanging out poolside somewhere sunny. You don’t need to run an ultra-marathon to get the benefits of solo travel – no one said your solo travel experience couldn’t be the most relaxing and chilled out trip of your life.

However, if you are determined to climb a mountain or swim across an ocean, amazing. You can read about other women’s super-cool adventures in Wild Women and Their Amazing Adventures Over Land, Sea & Air, edited by Mariella Frostrup.