When I traveled to Thailand a few years ago, I had no idea how soul-stirring and relaxing this traveling solo adventure would be. From spiritual discussions of Buddha to literally lying with tigers to a retreat to the island of Ko Samui, Thailand was (and still is) a life-changing experience for me. And since then, so many destinations have inspired me to continue traveling solo, opening my eyes and soul to new cultures, people, and places.
I grew up a solo traveler. As the oldest of 6 living on a farm in Iowa, my itchy feet had as much to do with traveling solo as getting away from the noise of a big family. I never felt fear, only freedom, when road tripping in my Ford Pinto as I’d drive across Iowa. Ultimately, I arrived at my home in Denver.
Traveling solo road trips continued into my adult years. Although the Pinto is long gone, replaced by an SUV or a plane ticket, I’ve segued into the international travels, including many amazing trips all over the world.
More than 10 years ago, the 2006 memoir and film, “Eat, Pray, Love” arrived on the scene. But I still feel that this phenomenon alone increased the acceptability of traveling solo for women.
Traveling Solo Opens Up the World
Interestingly enough, in all my solo travels, I really never felt alone. I’d join group tours. I’d walk (safely) near my hotel. Many times, as a travel journalist, I would actually travel with a group of other journalists, but then find ways to set out on my own.
Part of the adventure of traveling is meeting other people, whether it’s the locals or other travelers.
Traveling solo has opened up those possibilities even more. After all, when I’m traveling with my friends or family, my focus is on them, not always what’s out there.
And the coolest part is WHO I meet on my journeys become friends. Some very good friends, such as my English friends Christopher, who I met on a golf trip years back in Canada. Since then, he (many times) and now his girlfriend have visited me in Colorado, including most recently a CU Buffalos, college football game.
Some very good friends, such as my English friends Christopher, who I met on a golf trip years back in Canada. Since then, he (many times) and now his girlfriend have visited me in Colorado, including most recently a CU Buffalos, college football game.
And the coolest part is that those I meet on my journeys become friends. Some very good friends, such as my English friends Christopher, who I met on a golf trip years back in Canada. Since then, he (many times) and now his girlfriend have visited me in Colorado, including most recently a CU Buffalos, college football game.
Others traveling solo friends I’ve kept in touch with via Facebook, their news feed, chatting online with these new friends, whom I hope to see again someday. I’ve met these international “friends” in Thailand, Puebla, Canada, Columbia, and more places than I can name.
Thailand: My First Traveling Solo Adventure
It seems like yesterday! My 2010 visit to Thailand was a whirlwind of adventures, including stops in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Lisu, and the last destination to the island of Ko Samui.
On this particular adventure, I traveled with a small group (2 other writers). After checking into our resort, the Melati Beach Resort & Spa, our first adventure was onboard a speedboat, exploring the archipelago of about 40 small islands that make up the Ang Thong National Marine Park.
I soaked up this picturesque journey while riding a speedboat. Sheer limestone cliffs, hidden lagoons, white-sand beaches, and dense vegetation provided a postcard-perfect vista almost everywhere I looked.
Islands of Ko Samui, Thailand
Ko Samui, Thailand’s second largest island, lies in the Gulf of Thailand off the east coast of the Kra Isthmus. We’re talking palm-fringed beaches, coconut groves, and dense, mountainous rainforest, plus luxury resorts and posh spas.
We boarded a speed boat to check out these beautiful Thai islands. Just soaking in the peacefulness of the waters after the non-stop busyness of the mainland.
At Ang Thong National Marine Park headquarters on Koh Wua Talab Island (Sleeping Cow), my friends were all about the hiking. The path lead up the side of the rocks soaring as high as over 500 meters (546 feet) above to sea level. This will take maybe 60 minutes to walk up, a tough hike rewarded by the amazing view. (Please be warned this is not a hike for the faint-hearted.)
While my new friends opted for the hike in the 100 plus degree heat, I passed. Way too hot for me!
Instead, I returned to the beach, rolled my towel out, and proceeded to catch some island rays. And oh the views! I relaxed and just watched the activity around the ocean.
While reclining, a group of young women (I believe from China) took an interest in me, probably because I was an American. They asked to take my picture, and each took turns posing with me for a picture.
I then turned my camera on them. They didn’t speak English; I didn’t speak Chinese, but it was a fun moment with sign language and laughter. If I had been with a group or my family, I may have missed this opportunity — that’s the beauty of traveling solo.
Inspiring Traveling Solo Adventures
Actually, solo travel is the inspiration of this blog, because whether we’re wearing our heels or flip-flops, when women travel, it opens up the world just a little wider.
And my other inspiration is girlfriend travel, which I was lucky enough to experience on a bucket list journey to China. Because sometimes you just need to hang out with girls, and why not explore a new destination and culture with your besties? Pictured below was just that, 5 girlfriends traveling together, a China Retreat to Tai Hu Boutique Resort.
What’s your favorite memory of solo travel? Comment below — and comments are always welcome!