Frankie beautifully described in her Valentine’s post the pros and cons of travelling with a partner. Since I don’t have a boyfriend or preferred travel buddy I am here to tell you how awesome travelling on your own is.

I think the most common argument why people don’t travel is either “I don’t have money” or “I don’t have anyone to go with”. While money or lack thereof can be a real obstacle, the later argument always puzzles me. Yes, travelling with someone can be awesome and usually is cheaper too, but why anyone would rather stay at home altogether than go on their own is beyond me.


Mind you, maybe I have it easy as I never minded my own company even when I was little, so the idea of going on trips on my own never seemed odd or scary to me. When I was a kid we had a bungalow in the Netherlands by the sea where we would spend most holidays a year. I loved every single one. As my siblings are much older than me my parents would usually organize for one of my friends to come with so I would have someone to play with. When I was 12 years old my favourite thing wasn’t playing with Barbie anymore though, but to walk for hours along the beach. That was my holiday hobby and I wasn’t afraid to say: I like long walks on the beach. And while that seems an appropriate tagline for a dating profile, it seemed an odd thing for a kid or at least my friend thought so. It ended in her endlessly complaining when I dragged her along and we fought the whole time. The next friend who came with me left after three days due to chickenpox and the one after that scared me so much with her ghost stories that I couldn’t sleep at night. After that my parents gave up and I learned at a young age that travelling with someone always mean lots of compromise and little walk alone on the beach time.


I did have some more successful attempts at holidays with girlfriends when I was older and even my first trip with a boy didn’t go too badly. However when I tried with another boyfriend a few years ago, I once again discovered the merits of solo travel. Compromise is tricky and I came to the realization that I can simply not enjoy Rome when the guy I am with insists on getting breakfast at McDonald’s in order to safe 50c. For me compromise ends over a walk on the beach or a Happy Meal.

However I will acknowledge that going on your own can be a scary thought. Heck, going with someone into the unknown can already be intimidating, so doing it solo is not to be underestimated. For me the scary part was that I thought travelling solo would always include a backpack, a frowny face at the idea of paying more than $3 for a bed at night, beer bongs, and wet t-shirts contests that you do to bond with a bunch of strangers. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with this scenario for some, I always knew this kind of travel wasn’t my idea of a perfect trip with or without company. I don’t own a backpack, I prefer wine in a glass, and I just don’t make friends that easily regardless of the state my t-shirt is in. What I thought Travelling Solo 101 meant just wasn’t for me. If you have similar (mis)conceptions of what you thought travelling alone means and should be, I’m now telling you – let it go and find your own definition. You already made the brave decision to step out of your comfort zone in an effort to get travel butterflies and high on the unknown, so how about doing it your way? In case you still need some ideas to start, here are my favourite ways of seeing the world on my own terms.


She’s a small town girl with big city dreams.

My first proper solo trip was a trip to New York City to check out a college I wanted to attend. My parents weren’t keen on the idea and so I had to do it all on my own if I wanted to get it done. I saved up, I booked my first long distance flight, and found the cheapest, crummiest hotel on the Lower East Side. The trip that followed was one of the best I ever had. And even though I would live in New York for six years after that, it was one of my favourite weeks there ever. No trip holds such vivid memories for me than this one week that ended in me walking down Lafayette Street in the rain, because I had no more money for the subway. I was staring at my fruit salad doggie bag from breakfast which would be my meal for the rest of the day now and which was also getting wet. I felt very sorry for myself and the fruit salad and very alone. Yet I still knew in this moment New York was the one for me. Travelling, seeing the world on my own, even while sometimes feeling alone was for me and incredibly exhilarating too. Sometimes the anonymity of a big city can be very welcoming and to me it especially is when I travel by myself. In addition you get a big array of entertainment and sightseeing options as well as easy public transport. And if you are afraid of eating by yourself a city like New York will always give you prime time entertainment in the form of people watching.

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No man is an island, but a woman can try.

Another solo trip took me to the Seychelles a few years back. Admittedly a honeymoon paradise sounds like a really strange choice for a single girl. However I wanted to travel within Southern Africa and I wanted a country where I could move around freely and safely as a single woman. Unfortunately in a lot of places that is not the case yet and so I decided on the Seychelles. It was the perfect choice and the scariest thing that happened to me was almost getting run over by a bicycle when I walked home from dinner in the dark one night. I had books and warm ocean and nobody complained that I was reading too much and doing too little. Sometimes you need a holiday of doing absolutely nothing. While it would have been nice to have someone to help me open my coconut and the hotel would have been grateful if I hadn’t broken the floor tiles in the process, I still managed in the end and was quite proud for it. Solo travel makes self-sufficient in more than one way. You will of course ask how I managed to survive seeing all the blissful, happy couples on honeymoon. And yes, I will admit sometimes eating dinner alone with my Kindle sucked as I was surrounded by Lady and the Tramp meal sharing scenarios. But one afternoon I saw a couple taking pictures of each other on the beach. He was lounging in the waves like a mermaid in a red Speedo and she was snapping away. Watching this made me grateful not to be part of that kind of couple and I happily ate spaghetti all on my own that night.

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Group therapy.

What if you don’t want peace and quiet but excitement and actually meet people? Well, hello my name is Annika and I like to travel with groups. Even while I write this I cringe a little with embarrassment. Group travel is well…exactly that – embarrassing. It is big busses filled with seniors, twenty-somethings downing buckets of watery cocktails, and groups with matching hats following a guide with an umbrella through the ruins of somewhere. Or so I thought. Then I booked my first group trip when I wanted to go to Morocco, but realized that it wasn’t a destination I would feel comfortable going on my own. I did some online research and ended up with a small Intrepid group and the perfect mix of free time, organized transport, and dinner conversation with a majority of cool people. Especially if you are like me and walking into a bar of strangers to make friends isn’t your thing I highly recommend a group trip. It is almost impossible not to make friends with someone when stuck on a night train compartment for 12 hours together. And with my Kindle and headphones packed when I wanted peace and quiet, I got the perfect mix of travelling on my own, but not alone.

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So if you want to travel, don’t wait for someone to come along and do it with – spin the globe to pick a country, book a flight, and include some toe-selfies in the memories you are creating all by yourself. If you prefer proper holiday portraits remember that friends on the road are best made over the question of will you take my picture if I take yours?

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This post was written by Annika Ziehen who was a Travelette until 2019. Originally from Germany, Annika has lived in New York and Cape Town and now travels the world full time. She considers herself a very hungry mermaid and writes about her adventures, scuba diving and food on her blog The Midnight Blue Elephant. You can also find her on Instagram here!