An Engaged Traveler’s Confession about Solo Travel

I have a confession.

I’m afraid to travel solo.

Seriously. And I’m leaving in a week.

Even though I’ve written praising solo travel, the importance of solo travel safety, and even how to make friends and avoid loneliness…

I, myself, am afraid.

The truth is: I haven’t traveled solo in more than a year. In fact, these are the first few days I’ve spent alone even in my own city – as Ran has left to our new home to prepare for our move (guess where I’m moving and win a canga and souvenirs by clicking here!)

To be honest, since meeting my fiance, most of my traveling has been with him. Aside from a week and a half solo in Indonesia (well over a year ago), every trip I’ve taken has been with Ran, my partner and best friend. And in this last year+, my travel style has changed. No more longterm backpacking, no more hostels. We tend to stay in apartments (sometimes we even bring our dog) and boutique guesthouses. We eat at restaurants or get a place with a kitchen instead of eating street food off of paper plates. We rent cars and don’t take buses.

When I decided to go to Costa Rica, and then knew it’d be alone, I worried that I wasn’t a solo traveler and adventurer anymore. Can I even DO solo travel? Would I even enjoy it?

Aren’t I a “couple” traveler now? No. And I’m not a solo traveler either. I’m just a Stephanie traveler. 

It’s too easy to define and limit your travel with stereotypes. Are you a solo traveler? A couple traveler? A family traveler? Are you a backpacker, a budget traveler, a value traveler, a luxury traveler, or a vacationer? JUST BE YOU.

But it’s hard.

An Engaged Traveler's Confession

I feel like I don’t know how to be good at being alone anymore. It’s like my solo travel spirit has gathered some cobwebs.

Where’s the girl who backpacked for months alone in Southeast Asia? Who lived alone for almost 2 years in Bangkok? Who saw 11 countries all by herself?

I need to remember – I’ll find her again. I still am her. I’ve just became another kind of traveler as well.

Everything feels like the first again, my first days in Rio alone, about to embark to my first Central American country (alone), and my first solo plane ride in a loooong time. Who will I snooze on?

I’ve been beating myself up a bit about this apprehension, which is why I decided to share it with you.

I’m trying to embrace this fear, of something old turned new again, as a learning opportunity. And an exploration. 

Now, I remember what a solo journey feels like as a first-timer, not as an old hat. I feel the trepidation, the freedom, and the nervousness, mixing together and almost boiling over.

I’m afraid I’ll miss my dog, my fiance (who I already miss), and I worry about finding transportation, about language barriers (Spanish was my first failed language).

But even more overpowering than the fear is the sense of adventure. That’s why I traveled solo in the first place. I love to see new places, even alone. Especially alone?

Being alone forces me to observe. I do my best writing when I’m alone, my best note-taking, brainstorming, and idea creating.

I get to rediscover who I am and what makes me happy without any perceived judgment. Solo travel means I can decide to either be quiet and watch or outgoing and join in. And I can’t lean on anyone else to entertain me.

Being alone challenges me to get out of my comfort zone, and to be independent. I won’t be able to rely on Ran to speak Spanish for me (he’s the multi-lingual language genius), to haggle on prices, to levelheadedly untangle the messes that always come up with international travel. I need to do it for myself. And I know I can do it, even if I hadn’t done it a year ago.

I am a couple traveler, and a solo traveler, and a vacationer, and a budget traveler, and a value traveler. And on my birthdays? I’m a luxury travel.

The only part that matters to me?

The travel.


Do you travel solo when you’re in a relationship? Why or why not?

This post is part of a new series I’m testing out, called Thursday Thoughts. I’ll share informal musings on culture, travel, and life – every Thursday. Let me know what you think by clicking here


A short vacation in Thailand turned into a life abroad with a canceled ticket home. Nearly a decade later and after living in Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Puebla, and Puerto Vallarta, Steph is on to her next adventure and living back in beautiful, cosmopolitan Mexico City. She is living, traveling, and working (both as an expat therapist and an international health insurance representative) around the world to find the beautiful, inspirational, and interesting while sharing it with you!

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