I remember the first time I decided to travel solo three years ago. I was dying to attend an Edvard Munch exhibition. And, needless to say, didn’t really find that many people (or anyone, for that matter) who was interested in Edvard Munch or Oslo, which was where the exhibition was being held. Having written my MA thesis on the artist, I just had to go. So, I packed my bags and hopped on a plane.
When I started telling friends and family that I was traveling alone, almost everyone looked at me with some sort of pity, thinking (and in many cases saying), “you couldn’t find a travel partner?” or “you’ll get bored”, “isn’t it dangerous?” “what will you do all day by yourself?” At that point, I really had no clue, but to my surprise, it was one of the best trips of my life. Since that eye-opening experience, I never looked back! Since then, I’ve been to numerous cities, met incredible people and learned a lot about myself.
“When I started telling friends and family that I was traveling alone, almost everyone looked at me with some sort of pity”
Going back to the whole “pity” situation. For some reason, traveling solo is viewed as “sad”. Poor solo traveler doesn’t have friends or a partner, but let me tell you it’s the exact opposite. I’ve gotten hooked to traveling alone; not because I’m an introverted loner (I work in PR after all) rather because I learned to value and love my “me” time. I don’t need to follow anyone’s schedule or beg whoever is traveling with me to come try the newest vegan restaurant in town! I also learned to be alone, and believe me, that is an incredibly valuable lesson to learn. Not only did I learn to be alone, I also learned to love it; I learned how to enjoy my own company, how to stroll the streets and alleys at night without feeling “weird” or “lonely”. I’ve learned to take myself out to breakfast, lunch and dinner, all the while enjoying it tremendously.
I’ve also learned to clear my head. This doesn’t mean that I don’t pick up the phone or reply to work emails; I do, of course, but I still manage to disconnect. And every time I’m on my way back, I promise you I’m already planning my next trip.
“you mix and mingle with various cultures and religions, listen to various views and opinions, which opens up your mind and makes you see matters from new perspectives”
I’m not saying that it’s all peachy; it’s not, but everything and anything I’ve experienced during my trips, starting with mismanaging my money to booking a crappy hotel, definitely taught me a lot, and I wouldn’t take anything back. As you travel more, you learn to be responsible, you learn to manage your time and your finances. You also learn how to connect with people, which brings me to another very important part of solo travel. You meet a lot of people… a lot! Some are creepy and others are amazing; you mix and mingle with various cultures and religions, listen to various views and opinions, which opens up your mind and makes you see matters from new perspectives. Believe me when I tell you, I’ve been to countless cities with my family and my friends over the years, but the past three years of solo travel have truly been eye-opening; I learned more about myself than I had during my years of extensive non-solo travel.
“next time you dream of visiting Nairobi, Delhi or Prague, please, do not think twice! Book your ticket, your hotel and go!”
So ladies, next time you dream of visiting Nairobi, Delhi or Prague, please, do not think twice! Book your ticket, your hotel and go! And I repeat, this does not mean that you’re sad and lonesome. On the contrary, this means that you’re taking control of your life, you’re following your passion and you’re doing what you want to do. I promise you, you will feel empowered, confident and above all, you will learn to be alone and to love it!
Assistant Director of Marketing Communications
Semiramis InterContinental Cairo
With a strong passion the arts, Hend obtained her BA in Journalism and her MA in English & Comparative Literature. An artist, ex-editor and newly-appointed Assistant Director of Marketing Communications at Semiramis InterContinental Cairo, her interests include traveling, art history, painting, philosophy and existential literature. She’s a true Aquarian, vegan and a strong supporter of animal rights.