Folks, how many of you have dreamed of traveling alone?

Now, how many of you have actually done it?

If you answered, “ME!” you might be in the minority. Solo travelers only make up about 11% of the traveling population—which may seem tiny, but it’s a huge increase from just a few years ago. Solo travel is getting more desirable every year, but a lot of folks are still holding back, afraid to take their first, unaccompanied steps into the unknown.

If you’re thinking about going on a solo trip, but need that last bit of encouragement, we’ve got you covered. One of our own CheapOair travelers took her first solo trip this year, and she agreed to tell us all about it.

Behold, what it’s really like to travel alone. We know you’ve been dying to find out!

1.) Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Elina 1Hello there! This is Elina Song, aka, #ElinatheExplorer. (Thanks for turning me into a hashtag, Dennis Song!) I’m from Paraguay, South America. I currently live in New York, and I work as a Spanish Search Engine Marketer at CheapOair.

2.) How often do you travel?

I travel abroad at least once a year. In the past few years I’ve visited Korea, Paraguay, and a few places in Europe!

3.) What was the most recent trip you took?

This September, I went to Milan, Florence, Venice, and Prague—on my own! It was my first solo trip, and it was amazing. I’m hoping to go back to Europe this winter! Woohoo!

4.) Were you nervous about traveling alone in Europe? Why or why not?

Elina LastYes, I was. I was terrified by the idea of being alone in a new, unknown place. I’d heard a lot about pickpocketing in Europe, and that really made me nervous. I kept thinking about all the worst case scenarios—what if I lose my passport? What if this, what if that? The idea of being fully responsible for myself and not having anyone to help me in case of emergency was very scary. I was also worried that solo travel would be super lonely. I had a lot of nightmares before my trip because I was so worried.

5.) What was the most positive aspect of traveling solo?

Elina 3Traveling solo is super liberating! You are in control of what you want to do. You can travel to places at your own pace and only go to places that interest you. It can be hard if you have a travel buddy, because you’ll have different interests and this can slow you down. But if you travel alone, you can do whatever you feel like doing that day, which is awesome.

When you travel solo, it really forces you to think and reflect on yourself. Depending on what I saw or did, whether I was looking at beautiful architecture, people watching, or doing some activity, it all helped me think about myself, about the people in my life, what I want in life, what kind of person I want to be, what kinds of people I want to surround myself with, and so on. Very deep stuff. You definitely learn more about who you are when you travel alone.

Elina 5When you travel solo, you meet new people—really cool people who share the same love for travel as you do. I met people from all over the place when I was traveling solo. I met people from Portugal, Spain, New York, South Korea, and Colombia. You make new friends from all over the place, which is so valuable. And trust me, there will be people who will challenge how you thought about things and inspire you to be a bigger and better person. Those experiences really encourage you to grow. If you’re constantly with a friend, that really limits your ability to meet these new people who will broaden your horizons.

Elina 8Lastly, traveling solo is a great teacher to help you become more independent and responsible for yourself. It gives you a boost of confidence that you can do anything!

6.) What was the biggest challenge of traveling solo?

Hmmm, being sleep deprived and walking for more than 10 hours a day? I had to see everything—no time for rest!

7.) What advice would you give to other women thinking about traveling alone?

Elina 7You are not alone! Don’t be afraid. Be bold and go out there. There are tons of other solo women travelers who you’ll meet along the way—just make sure you stay open minded and talk to new people!

Ignore people that tell you that it’s too dangerous out there or look at you with pity for going alone—they are just jealous or have misconceptions about what it’s really like to travel alone as a woman. Traveling solo will help you to step out of your comfort zone and learn to embrace the unknown.

Have you ever traveled solo? Has Elina’s advice inspired you to try it out? Let us know in the comments!


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About The Author

Hannah Winsten is a freelance writer and marketing consultant living in New York City. A total travel junkie, Hannah came to CheapOair as a French translator and SEM associate after returning from a stint living abroad in Paris. She’s also working on her first book--you know you want to read it. Find her on Twitter at @HannahRWinsten.