Why I travel solo: A solo female perspective

Sophie Marland in a red dress in front of the Taj Mahal at sunrise, framed by an archway.

You’re travelling by yourself?  Don’t you get lonely? Isn’t that dangerous?  Aren’t you scared?  Do you enjoy travelling solo?

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to explain to people why I choose to travel solo.  So here you go, I’ve tried to explain some of my thoughts on solo travelling…

Why do I travel alone?

I first travelled by myself for one simple reason; no one else could or wanted to come with me.  At the time all of my friends had some form of commitment to prevent them travelling with me; stable jobs, houses, kids, lack of funds, long-term partners etc., you get the idea.  

I made a decision… if I wanted to travel I couldn’t wait for someone to go with me, I had to go by myself.  That was the first time.

Kuang Si Waterfall, Laos

What about now?

I love the freedom.  I love not having to answer to anyone else or consider anyone’s opinion.  Sounds selfish?  

Well I guess it is a bit, but I get to do what makes me happy.  I love not having a plan, this would drive some people nuts. I get to wake up at whatever time I choose in the morning, do whatever I have decided to do, stay wherever I want and go to bed whenever I want.  

It’s also made me stronger and more independent.  I have to face problems by myself, often in a country where I don’t speak the language.

Sunrise over the Taj Mahal – after getting lost on the way, one of my more epic fails

But isn’t it lonely?

Simple answer… no.  I might start off a trip solo, however frequently I meet other fellow travellers and will do part of my journey with them.  Throughout all the trips I’ve made, the only time I’ve really spent alone has been when I’ve chosen to be.   

I love staying in hostels and meeting new people.  I’ve met people from all over the world, with all different backgrounds and stories.  Some of my best friends now are people I’ve met traveling.  

A few years ago I had friends fly in from the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden for my birthday, as well as other friends from the UK that I’d met in Thailand and Belize!  All people I would never have met if I hadn’t traveled.  

Additionally, I’ve taken trips to Hawaii, Puerto Rico, New Jersey and Finland just to hang out with people I’ve met traveling!  What could possibly be lonely about that?  

Plus, let’s face it, family and friends back home are contactable by about a thousand different forms of media nowadays!

New travel friends in Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Isn’t it dangerous?

Sure, and so is walking around London at night by myself as a woman (or man for that matter).  Danger and risks are everywhere, you can’t avoid them all.  Crime is universal.

However, you can be sensible.  Use your common sense and take normal safety precautions.  You can also check out my top travel safety tips here.

Throughout all my travels, I’ve personally been the “victim” of a crime 3 times.  Ok so that sounds like a lot, let me explain…

First time was in 2010, I had a lot of cash and some jewellery in my purse in the hostel room.  I didn’t lock it away as I was sharing the room with 6 people that I’d known for around a month and we were taking a road trip from Madrid to Sevilla and Granada together.  

I trusted them, naively.  My purse went missing.  I don’t know who took it, but unfortunately it was most likely one of them.  Most of the crime I hear of travelling is from fellow travellers, which sucks.  Lesson learnt: use the lockers provided!

Second time was in 2013, I was walking a drunk friend back to our hostel in Cambodia (I wasn’t exactly sober myself!).  A local guy cycled past and tried to grab my bag off my shoulder.  

Luckily it didn’t work, I was wearing it over my body so it didn’t budge.  Lesson learned: always have an over-the-shoulder bag if you need one!

Finally, this year I had my kindle nicked from a hostel dorm in Bolivia.  Not a biggy but very annoying as I was in the middle of reading a good book.  

This was partially my fault for leaving it lying around, I should’ve learned from the first time.  Lesson learnt: use lockers provided and double check when you leave somewhere!

Just please be careful, do a bit of research and keep your wits about you, but don’t be paranoid!

Am I ever scared?

Most of the time, no.  I’m often with new friends that I meet along the way.  I’m always sensible about how, where and when I travel.  

Of course there are times where I feel anxious, but I would have those times at home.  The reward of travelling far outweighs any potential negative aspect.

Exploring Rio de Janeiro solo – thanks to the lovely Chilean couple I met for taking this photo 🙂

Do I enjoy travelling solo?

ABSOLUTELY!  I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t.  Would I prefer to travel with someone else?  Honestly, although I’m open to the idea, I really do love travelling solo and would encourage anyone and everyone to try it! 

Admittedly, it won’t be the right way to travel for everyone but you won’t know until you try it!

*Update:  As some of you may have noticed, since writing this I met Adam and we have been traveling (and running this blog) together but that doesn’t change any of my thoughts here!



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Sophie's passion for travel and photography are outweighed only by her love for animals! Originally from London and now living in the Pacific Northwest, Sophie has traveled to over 30 countries across all seven continents, many of which as a solo female traveller.

12 thoughts on “Why I travel solo: A solo female perspective”

  1. Me gusta tu website!!!
    Y comparto lo que escribís en esta nota, una vez que se viaja solo, es difícil viajar acompañado y sentirse con tanta libertad como al viajar solo!

    • Muchas gracias Diego. Exactamente, es muy difícil, pero ahora me encanta viajando con mi novio. Y lo siento, mi español es muy malo. Necesito practicar más! Espero que me entiendes :-/

  2. I had the chance to travel solo on my bicycle trip. One month solo out of three and a half months total going from Seattle to Maine. I was apprehensive at first as the first two and a half months were with a group of one or two other guys. It was great! Solo was a new experience. One guy got hit by a car and got injured so was out half way to Maine. The other guy’s wife came for the last month and she didn’t want to camp.

    • I think nearly everyone is apprehensive at first, it’s something so different. But I know most people have amazing experiences and it’s great to hear yours was too!

  3. I had the chance to travel solo on my bicycle trip. One month solo out of three and a half months total going from Seattle to Maine. I was apprehensive at first as the first two and a half months were with a group of one or two other guys, but going solo was great! Solo was a new experience. One guy got hit by a car and got injured so was out half way to Maine. The other guy’s wife came for the last month and she didn’t want to camp.

  4. I’ve never travelled solo and tend to have my girlfriend with me now. These are all great tips and advice for anyone who wants to go it alone! I did have to do the entire trip from London to Rio (via Paris and Sao Paulo) for the Olympics in 2016 on my own before meeting my friends out there!


  5. I love your pictures but I’m just wondering who is taking those gorgeous pictures if you’re travelling alone ???

    • Hi Chantal,

      Thanks so much! As I mention at the bottom of my post, I now travel with my boyfriend, Adam (@weownthemoment). He now helps with a lot of my photos. Prior to travelling with him (and still when he’s not around), I took my photos with a tripod and remote, or occasionally asked a friend if someone else was with me! I’d highly recommend getting a tripod and remote though as this give you the best chance at getting a photo just as you want it 🙂

  6. Hi Sophie,

    I have one question which i believe most of them have in mind is “How do you make money to spend against your travel”? If its not easy to explain in a simple answer and deserves an article , i would request you to create on because your experiences , leanings and suggestions might help many aspiring people to leave the fear and get out and explore this beautiful world. May be money is one or the biggest road block that is stopping them to get out.

    As always keep exploring and live your dream.

    • Hi Sam,

      I saved all my money when I worked full time and used that for the first year or so of my travels. After that, I had a work holiday visa in Australia so I was able to work there a year and replenish my savings. The past couple of years I’ve made bits through social media, just enough to keep me travelling. I may one day write a blog post about it, but everyone’s financial situation is different. For me, I prioritised travelling, so I didn’t go out as much as other people or spend money on clothes.


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