Traveling alone, whether you're a man or a woman, is one of those taboo things for some people and is the most adventurous way to travel for others. It can be the single most rewarding travel experience that you will have or it can be lonely and depressing. Solo travel can make it easy to be outgoing or it can make you go further into your cocoon and sit on the Internet all day. It's all what you make of it.
Solo travel is all about your attitude. If you go into it with a positive attitude and excited to go out there and meet people and do cool things, then that is what will happen. If you are timid, scared or depressed that you're traveling alone and feeling sorry for yourself then you will have a bad time. It's that simple. Mix attitude with basic common sense and solo travel can be the best thing you've ever done for yourself.
I get the question, do you travel alone or with friends, family, etc all the time. The answer is yes to all of the above. Sometimes I travel with friends and always have a blast and have amazing memories. Sometimes I travel with family as well which can be very rewarding. All of these have their virtues and can greatly enhance a trip. You can share experiences with people you already know and love. But often something is missing when you travel with others. That thing is what I call "absolute freedom."
Absolute freedom gives you the ability to do what you want, when you want. If you want to sleep until noon on the road, you can. If you want to sit in a coffee shop and chat with locals and tourists alike, you can. If you want to eat at a certain restaurant, you can. There is no negotiation, no compromise with others. You are in charge of your entire destiny for that trip. You are truly the master of your own domain.
That said, it allows you to get the most out of your trip in ways that perhaps you aren't used to. Solo travel almost forces you to talk to people, whether it's locals or other travelers. It forces you to come out of your shell. It forces you to take charge and learn about where you are, where you're going and where you've been. It forces you to be uncomfortable with your surroundings, which is a great thing. Being uncomfortable means you will go out of your way to feel comfortable by meeting people and getting to know the city you're in. That feeling of being uncomfortable and thriving at overcoming it is what separates travelers from tourists.
I also wanted to touch on the issue of women solo travelers. I get emails and hear from women all the time about how they'd love to travel alone but because of the fact that they are women, they won't do it. To me, this is nonsense and here's why.
In all my travels, I have met tons of solo female travelers from all over the globe. They travel the same way I do. They're street smart, use common sense and are pretty savvy. The one glaring exception in these women that I usually come across is that they are rarely American. This shocks me but I guess it really shouldn't because as a culture, we protect the female more and discourage them from traveling alone. This is not the case in many other nations.
The Commonwealth countries are the biggest supplier of solo female travelers. The ones I know don't limit their travel to just Europe, Southeast Asia or Australia where it's very well-touristed and there are a ton of other travelers. I know women who travel within Africa and the Middle East alone and thrive doing it. How? It is simple: attitude and confidence.
Like anything else in life, if you believe and project positivity and confidence, it will show to others and you will be fine. Obviously, you should dress modestly, not wear expensive jewelry and take all normal precautions wherever you are but traveling is no different than women walking around anywhere alone at night. You stay out of the bad and dimly lit areas, keep your eyes open and don't cause or look for trouble. It's the same thing I do both at home and on the road. That's all I am saying, it's not as crazy a thought as most women think.
The moral of the story is don't have a bad attitude, get out there and do it. If you're scared or nervous but want to travel solo, do it. That's half the fun! Men and women both, just get out there and do it. Embrace the unknown, embrace being uncomfortable, embrace absolute freedom!