When are you going to find a nice man. 

The words echo inside my head and make my skin crawl every time I have to endure another conversation with my mother who questions all the reasons behind my singledom. In truth, being single never really bothered me until I moved to Belgium. Suddenly I was surrounded by couples who only did couple things and talked about their lives as couples. My friends would decline nights out because they had dinners with married friends or had to go out with the boyfriend. Then came the Facebook updates. In a span on 3 months a handful of my friends started to post updates: we’re engaged! we’re buying a house! we’re pregnant! And me? I was 27 years old in another foreign country (5th one I’ve moved too) trying to figure out my life while going it alone

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A lot of people I talk to always tell me I’m brave. Brave to have dropped everything three times in my life and moved to a country without any real plan or idea how it would turn out. Brave to have done it all by myself (albeit with a lot of help both emotional and financial from my parents). It all started at 18 when I announced to my parents that I would be going to the University of Ottawa, 5 hours away from my hometown of Mississauga. Then again I announced I would be doing an inter-university exchange for a year at the age of 20 in Paris. Then there was my 3 month move to Panama City at 24, my move to Bocas del Toro at 26 followed almost immediately by me traveling alone for 12 months in Santiago de Chile. My last move was to Brussels in 2014 and I am confident enough to say that it certainly won’t be my last move. 

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My country-hopping might seem brave, but it at times can be incredibly lonely. Slow travel makes it almost impossible to date or form a strong bond with anyone. It also makes going it alone almost inevitable. All my relationships in my 20s ended because I moved and long distance just didn’t seem to work out. My friends are all scattered across the world, and although it might sound like a cool concept to have friends around the globe, people tend to forget about you when you aren’t around. After all, they have their own lives to attend to.

It would be a lie to say that that travel is never lonely. Belgium amplifies these feelings as most Belgians are homebodies with a strong connection to their family and friends. Their circles are big and they have had friends since they were little. My time in Belgium has made me miss sitting around with a glass of wine while having a chat with a friend who really knows me, or smelling my mother’s cooking billowing from the kitchen or even having a couple get-together with my close friends and a significant other. Let’s be honest, going at it alone isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, it can also have a dark side. 

Going at it alone

So how do I cope?

“Me” time. I constantly remind myself, that time is so short so I shouldn’t waste it being negative. I probably will not be single forever. I will eventually settle down, gain some bosom friends and have those couple get-togethers that I crave. This is the period of my life where I can be completely and utterly selfish. If I don’t want to go somewhere I don’t, if I don’t want to wash my dishes right away, I leave them in the sink and if I want to sit at home eating cereal for dinner while binge watching television, then there is no one around to judge me for it. This also means I can decide my path with relatively little constrictions – if I want to move to Rio, then all I have to do is pick up my stuff and move. No one is holding me back, but myself.

Don’t let the fear of being alone hold you back

One of the reasons that women do not travel alone is because of loneliness. Being alone can be scary, but it can be incredibly liberating. Whether you’re traveling for one week or moving abroad, going it alone allows you to be selfish and in control. In truth, the feelings of loneliness come and go, new people arrive in your life and leave pieces of themselves – memories that never fade away. In lieu of a boyfriend, close circle of friends or family, you’ll have adventures, unforgettable memories and a new outlook on life. It can be truly empowering to wake up and say this is what I want to do and having the ability to do it. And if you don’t like it, then you also have the ability to move on and try something new. 

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Loneliness sucks, but it is a part of life even when you aren’t traveling. At 28 I do not have a boyfriend, my family lives far away and my circle of friends is quite scattered. But I learned Spanish in Chile, went scuba diving in Brazil, got my divemaster in Bocas del Toro, landed a job in Belgium that sent me China, dove in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, spent a month eating my way through Buenos Aires and so much more. Being alone has taught that I need to be happy by myself, learning how to take care of myself: eat healthy, exercise and travel. And you know what? I LOVE traveling alone, especially slow traveling while I am single. I am learning to just be happy with myself. Alone. Because in the end if you aren’t happy with yourself, do you really think you’ll find that happiness in someone else?

So travel alone and embrace the loneliness. Push past it and make peace with it.There is so much waiting out there for you and it would be a shame to miss it all. And that is why I slow travel and am content with going it alone

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14 Comments

    1. Interesting infograph. I don’t want to sound sexist saying this but I had no idea the high percentage of solo women travelers. I’ve only really met a handful but those I’ve met were definitely self reliant, independent sources of strength

    1. Love this!!! Thanks for the inspiration. I definitely don’t travel as much as I should, alone or accompanied, so this makes me want to make lots of plans!!

    1. Sounds like you have It down perfectly, so many possibilities when you get to travel solo!

    1. I think what I’m faced with most is safety concerns traveling solo. Once you realize that you have to be careful, but most people are not out to get you being by yourself gets a lot easier.

    1. We’ve all had to endure the facebook posts about marriages and houses and babies – but if that’s not what you’ve chosen for your life then you can be happy and secure in your decision and not let any of that bother you. I went through no less than 10 years of people asking me when I was going to have a kid. Finally I think they realize I’ve chosen something different than them. We don’t all have to live by the same rules. You’re brave and courageous!

    1. I love this, and so true. I have lived in 6 countries, and it can be lonely. But yes, you are brave. And curious 🙂

      Just one thing, you said that it is hard to form strong “bongs”: you might want to try Colorado for that 😛

    1. I didn’t realize a lot of the facts you stated here. I was always afraid to travel alone. I found the guy when I was 60 and have not stopped traveling since. But now I feel like I am running out of time and should have dared what you espouse here!

    1. I usually travel solo, and have been doing so for the past 20 years or so since I was still in school. Have also moved and lived alone in 3 other countries, each time for a period of between 1 to 7 years. So I guess I understand the part of feeling lonely at times, especially when you’re alone in a foreign country with no loved ones or old friends to share moments with. But that’s okay, I have no regrets because at the end of the day, it’s a matter of choice and each choice have its own pros and cons, some of which you’ve listed above very well. 🙂

    1. Great article Yvonne!!!
      I totally understand you, and although I have been traveling with my husband for the past one year [I´am still surprised how we manage to not kill each other], we do take solo trips to enjoy your freedom and take time for ourselves. As you said, once a while is good and healthy be selfish!
      I admire you, and I know loneliness can be tough… But I learned in life that good things come to good people. I´m sure you gonna find a crazy traveller just like you, to explore the world in a different perspective!
      All the best sweet!
      Nat

    1. Interesting article – I think that the ‘issues’ which face solo female travellers are the same as for solo male travellers on the whole (freedom to do as you wish, moments of loneliness, etc ect). I guess the biggest difference, is that society in general views solo female and male travellers through different eyes.

    1. Traveling solo can be a lonely experience, but like you said, it can also be very rewarding. Although I travel with my boyfriend sometimes, I still love to travel alone as well. It gives you a sense of empowerment and confidence that you can’t get any other way.

    1. I appreciate your honest post. The grass is always greener on the other side – sometimes I forget that traveling alone isn’t all “sunshine and rainbows” as you say, as I often wish to have your lifestyle!

      I think it’s amazing how you have moved around and lived in so many different places in the world. There is no better time to do it than now. And while your friends are scattered all over the world, you wouldn’t have made those connections had you stayed in one place.

      Keep it up!

      Victoria

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