What Is Solo Travel?

by Gray Cargill on November 5, 2009

About a month ago, I sent out a message on Twitter asking if anyone else was traveling solo for the upcoming holidays.  Apparently not, because I only got a couple of responses.  One of them was from a follower who said he was, but when I probed a little bit, he admitted he was traveling to see family–but he was flying alone!  (Sorry to pick on you, buddy.)  Okay, let’s get this straight:  Taking a flight by yourself to visit family is not solo travel.  You’re flying alone, yes, but if you have family or friends waiting for you on the other end of that flight, it’s not solo travel.

I’ve also seen some single parents on message forums get confused about the phrase and assume that if they’re traveling with their children, but no other adult, it’s “solo travel.” Again, I don’t consider that solo travel.  You’ve got human companionship!  Okay, so maybe they’re too young to help carry the luggage or help navigate through the airport, but they’re still people that you will be spending all your time with.  What part of “solo” is so hard for people to understand?

Solo travel means you’re going somewhere else alone, where you will spend a significant chunk of time alone once you get there.  Not just driving or flying from point A to point B, where you’ll meet up with friends or family that you’ll spend your entire trip with, or spending an afternoon by yourself while your husband goes to a ball game.  (Not that there’s anything wrong with doing that, by the way.)

Now, just because you travel alone doesn‘t mean you’ll always be alone during your travels.  As I’ve mentioned in other posts, there are ways to make friends and meet people to hang out with when you travel.  Or maybe you will meet up with a friend somewhere along the way for a day or two, but the rest of your time will be spent alone. For instance, on my first trip to Vegas, my uncle met me there and we spent my entire stay hanging out together.  That was not solo travel.  On another trip to Vegas, I was alone most of the week, but spent a day down in Laughlin seeing my uncle.  That was solo travel, because I only visited him for a day, and the rest of the time was spent on my own.

I suppose there could be exceptions.  I wonder about people who travel with their pets, for instance.  I generally consider that solo travel, but I’m not quite sure why.  Dogs are “man’s best friend'”, aren’t they?  So aren’t you really traveling with your best friend?  How is that solo travel?  And many of us view our cats as furry little children.  So how is traveling with them different than traveling with human children?  I’d like to think I’m not speciesist.  After all, my family’s always treated our pets as members of the family. But if I’m not, why do I consider traveling with pets solo travel?

What’s your definition of solo travel?  Do you think there is one definition of solo travel, or is it more flexible, depending on circumstances?

SoloFriendly April 29, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Congratulations!

EagerExistence April 29, 2010 at 2:17 pm

I am in the planning stages of solo travel for a long-term experience. If I ever get my blog off the ground, I will be #rtwsoon 🙂

SoloFriendly November 10, 2009 at 2:03 am

Absolutely! And that kind of company–meeting new people along the way–still counts as solo travel. So you get the best of both worlds. I'm glad you like my blog, thank you, Alexis.

Alexis Grant November 9, 2009 at 11:28 pm

Even when I travel solo, I'm rarely alone. That's because solo travelers often go out of their way (perhaps more than people traveling with partners or in groups) to make friends! That's one of the great parts of traveling solo. Love the blog!

SoloFriendly November 9, 2009 at 7:03 pm

Absolutely! And that kind of company–meeting new people along the way–still counts as solo travel. So you get the best of both worlds. I'm glad you like my blog, thank you, Alexis.

Alexis Grant November 9, 2009 at 4:28 pm

Even when I travel solo, I'm rarely alone. That's because solo travelers often go out of their way (perhaps more than people traveling with partners or in groups) to make friends! That's one of the great parts of traveling solo. Love the blog!

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