The Hardest Part of Traveling Solo

I’ve been in Europe traveling solo for a little over two weeks now. Let’s talk about the hardest part of traveling solo – the side of travel you may not hear a lot about.

I have enjoyed 95% of this adventure – and I am completely content and happy. Who wouldn’t be? Who wouldn’t be completely ecstatic to be living out her lifelong dream of becoming a writer, world-traveler, and storyteller?

Every passion in my life points to my current place of being as where I am supposed to be.

When I was a kid, I was completely obsessed with stories like Peter Pan, Chronicles of Narnia, and Alice in Wonderland – why? They all went on epic adventures, and the writing was so damn good.

When I attempted to go to college, I studied Medieval Literature and History because I was fascinated by a culture whose history was originally built upon using oral storytelling for preservation, until writing outside of the church became a daily activity. Geoffrey Chaucer is my absolute favorite person from history, because of his impact on storytelling and on the English language. I can still half-way recite the first canto of the prologue to The Canterbury Tales, but it’s been awhile since I had to memorize anything!

If Dumbledore were real, only he would surpass Chaucer for my favorite historical figure.

When I lived in Colorado for a year and a half, I went on many day trips and overnight trips by myself. I also went on adventures with friends, which were always fun, but I prefer solo-adventures more than group-adventures (I also HATED group work in school – “just let me do it myself; I will get it done better and faster,” was my pompous attitude when the teacher assigned us into groups).

Preferring to be alone does not mean one is lonely. It could mean that person has social awkwardness, and I feel like I have come a long way from being, “too shy to talk,” to being comfortable setting up a tripod in a busy city center to take a self-portrait, or walking up to a stranger to ask a question.

The difficulties in solo-travel occur in moments you wish you could share with someone. When you are watching a sunset alone, and the wind picks up, blowing a cloud of leaves all around you – something magical – and you just wish you could turn to your left and smile at someone who is there enjoying it with you.

They happen when you are on a boat with couples and families in Norway, experiences the fjords, and you have to ask someone to take a photo of you – knowing it will probably be a poorly-framed picture, but you don’t want to ask them to take it again, because they have their own pictures to take.

Difficulties in solo-travel happen when you really just wish you could save some pennies and split a meal you’re not going to finish anyways with a friend. Hotel rooms, too.

Difficulties in solo-travel happen when you’re texting your friends photos of what you’re seeing and they reply with, “cool,” which is expected, but you also feel like you’re bragging. All you want is someone to share these moments with.

They happen when you realize how, “American,” it is to smile at everyone you pass on the street, simply because you are wishing to share a moment with another human.

As a “digital nomad,” another difficulty that crosses my mind multiple times a day is, “how the hell will I return to my home-life?” I don’t think I can, and figuring our my game-plan after this trip is already proving to be a challenge – but I am SO UP FOR IT!

However – despite all of this, I still absolutely love solo-travel. I’m not scared that I could experiences loneliness, and so far, I have not had a bit of loneliness at this point in my journey (that doesn’t mean it won’t happen – it will). I do know for certain that I would not rather be anywhere else, doing anything else than traveling Europe alone right now.

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  • Reply Daniel

    I get that.
    Have never really understood that seemingly need to share the feelings we get from new experiences and sights. Nor have I figured out how to shut them off. The world around us seems to be entirely built for couples, being the odd person out is, as you say, a challenge. Good luck to you young lady.

    09/08/2015 at 1:23 pm
  • Reply Rebecca Louzan

    I loved reading this piece. So much beauty and lessons to be learned in universal aloneness. Thank you for having the courage to travel solo and to bring your lessons, inspirations and spunk into my life!

    Lyons, Colorado USA

    09/08/2015 at 8:03 pm
    • Reply Tiffiny

      Aw, thank you, Rebecca. <3

      MISS YOU!

      09/12/2015 at 6:59 pm
  • Reply Heidi Nicole || run.around.aroo

    Not having someone to share with is definitely the hardest part — and even when you do meet people it can be so hard to communicate what you’re trying to say to someone who doesn’t know/get you. Granted, that always becomes a great opportunity to get a new perspective on your own views — definitely spent more time readjusting my way of thinking when I was with foreign friends last week! Come to Switzerland…we’ll take each others photos! 😉

    09/09/2015 at 2:06 pm
    • Reply Tiffiny

      Working on it! 🙂 One of my friends is here in Berlin and I’m like, WAY TOO EXCITED to hang, and she just got here so I know she needs to have some alone time first. haha.

      09/12/2015 at 6:57 pm
  • Reply David

    First, thank you for sharing. I finally get a chance to sit down and read about your adventures. I have to say the “sharing” aspect is something I struggled with on many trips and the one thing that alleviates that craving for me is to do exactly what you’re doing; write about it, talk about it, take photos and share share share…
    As for “going back to your home-life” well, well, well, good luck on that one 🙂 You just can’t be the same person after such a trip and that’s the whole point after all. I personally dealt with that problem by just planning other trips – some realistic some slightly less – as soon as I got “home” but I’m sure you’ll find your own way.
    Safe travel!
    – David
    Denver, CO / Paris, France

    09/11/2015 at 10:32 pm
    • Reply Tiffiny

      Hey David!

      I definitely wish I had a friend to share things with – somedays. Now that I’m in the busier cities, however, I find myself happy to be alone. Maybe it was in the less-crowded Scandinavian areas I was in that I wanted someone to share with.

      Home life will be…interesting! I’m sure you will hear about it. 🙂


      09/12/2015 at 7:00 pm

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