TRAVELS WITH NINA

is the online portfolio and journal of Australian travel writer Nina Karnikowski.

THE ART OF SOLO TRAVEL

I love to travel alone.

I’ve journeyed everywhere from Russia to IndiaZambia to Morocco, without anyone standing by my side. And I’ve relished every minute of it.

People often ask how I fare all on my lonesome out in the big bad world. When I tell them how much I love it, I get some strange looks. But I honestly believe that the best travel companion you can have is yourself, and that solo travel is liberating, rewarding and totally empowering. We should all be doing it, at least a few times in our lives.

Solo travel means you get to do exactly what you want to do, when you want to do it. You don’t have to make compromises or negotiate. You don’t have to indulge someone else’s love of sitting by the pool while you’re desperate to go off exploring, or go shopping for an entire day when all you want to do is get out into the streets and take photos all afternoon. You can eat what you want, drink what you want, stay where you want. And, most importantly, follow any damn budget and schedule you please.

You can customise your travel experience any way you like, and make it the trip of your dreams.

When we travel with other people, we often have our blinkers on. We’re too busy engaging with our travel buddy, commentating everything we’re seeing and doing, that we ultimately miss out on seeing and experiencing so much. Not to mention that often strangers won’t feel as comfortable approaching a couple as they will a single person, which means we don’t get to meet as many people, either.

As British travel writer Jonathan Raban says:
You’ve got to go kind of naked into the world and make yourself vulnerable to it [when you travel], in a way that you’re never going to be sufficiently vulnerable if you’re travelling with your nearest and dearest on your arm. You’re never going to see anything; you’re never going to meet anybody; you’re never going to hear anything. Nothing is going to happen to you.

While I wouldn’t go quite that far, Raban does have a point. I’ve sat in countless restaurants solo or driven in umpteen buses solo, and have overheard snippets of conversation, seen incredible sights, or met people I never would have had I not been alone. Put simply, solo travel makes us more engaged.

Do I get lonely? Well yeah, sometimes. Eating alone is always a challenge, for example, although nothing a good book can’t fix. But I always see that twinge of loneliness as a little push from the universe to get out and meet someone new, or to go inwards and make friends with a part of myself I hadn’t discovered before.

And besides. Any loneliness I might feel is far outweighed by the sense of empowerment that solo travel ultimately leads to. Traipsing around a foreign city knowing that I got this, that I don’t need anyone else to make me feel safe, secure or confident, and that I am an independent woman, is the best knowing there is.

This is your life to live, and to have all the travel and life experiences you want. So head out into the abyss knowing that yes, you are enough, and that you have everything you need inside you to conquer the world on your own.

Go on, I dare you.

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