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If You Do Just One Thing... Travel Alone

No study is needed to affirm the merits of traveling, yet everyone from psychologists to IG influencers are discussing the benefits — and why going solo may be even more advantageous.

Given our overly stimulated and scheduled lives, we are “distracted from what we find to be actually meaningful and interesting,” says Tamara McClintock Greenberg, a clinical psychologist and author of Psychodynamic Perspectives on Aging and Illness. Travel “leads to lower cortisol levels, making you feel more calm and content, and helps us reflect on our personal goals and interests.”  

But it’s solo travel that is the breakout star. Between 2015 and 2017, there was a 42 percent increase — with more women than men venturing out on their own — according to Hostelworld. Solo travel has all the perks of getting away, coupled with freedom, independence, and scratching the wanderlust itch your partner (or friends) may not share.

Klook, a Hong-Kong based activities and travel booking service, named solo travel one of 2019’s hottest trends. In addition to relieving stress, being alone allows greater opportunity to take stock in what you have and where you are in life — no milestone birthday required. “You discover a lot about yourself and learn to be at peace with your inner monologue,” says one traveler from a study on the subject.


As we find ourselves at a crossroads, or even lost, as we age, why not consider what solo travel could bring?


And the long-term effects, from increasing your cognitive flexibility and enhancing “depth and integrativeness of thought” — which in turn boosts your creativity — are fruitful, according to Adam Galinsky, a Columbia Business School professor who frequently studies the connection between creativity and international travel.

Solo travelers revel in the chance to cater only to themselves but recognize there are downsides. Going it alone means greater vulnerability and being more cautious about safety, but those who do it vow that being able to call the shots is priceless.

It’s no surprise that so many gravitated toward Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild, chronicling her 1,110-mile solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. And who among us hasn’t read — and dreamt of mimicking — Elizabeth Gilbert’s solo journey in Eat, Pray, Love? As we find ourselves at a crossroads, or even lost, as we age, why not consider what our own solo travel could bring? You don’t have to be shoeless while fighting off bears or within the throes of divorce to gain soulful wisdom.

We believe Einstein said it best: “The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before.”

Before packing your bags, check out these great reads: 100 Places in the USA Every Woman Should Go; Body, Mind, and Solo; You Are Here; and Fly Solo.

Photos: Jake Melara; courtesy of the publishers

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