December 22, 2014

The Birth of a Solo Traveler

U.S. Virgin Islands travel guides

Planning was the easy part...

To own the truth, St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands wasn’t even on my radar.

Last March, a perfect storm of conditions converged to make a completely unexpected trip a reality: an inexpensive airfare that coincided with my spring break weekend and the discovery of a ridiculously affordable campsite on the island. It was much too good to keep to myself. I shared my trip with friends on Facebook in the hope that I could convince a few of them to come along. Days passed and weeks went by. I had no takers. Even two separate people I’d met online who’d be traveling to St. John at the same time as I was bailed on me at the last minute. No worries. I was going anyway. That is, up until the night before I was scheduled to travel.

Packing my bags at the last minute, I had what I could only describe as an anxiety attack. My trip was now mere hours away, and reality had begun to set in. In all of the excitement of planning, it truly hadn’t dawned on me that I would be traveling alone. Solo. Just me, myself, and I. A torrent of wild thoughts and emotions rushed through me. What if…? What if…? What if…? All of the dangerous possibilities of traveling on my own as a woman presented themselves to me like a many-headed monster. Theft. Kidnapping. Assault. Rape. Murder. I almost collapsed emotionally beneath the weight of my burgeoning fears and my weakened will to go began to crumble.

So what if your airfare was non-refundable? I asked myself. What’s 300 bucks compared to your safety? You could easily cancel your campsite reservation; you’d probably only have to pay for the first night. Before long, I had convinced myself that the hundreds of dollars that I’d scrimped and saved for were disposable. That I didn’t have to wake up in the morning to take the train to the airport. That my trip to St. John wasn’t going to happen. Fear had me in its grip and I was almost completely on the verge of surrender.

I’d like to say I got indignant with myself, that finer stuff rose up in me and that I mustered all of my latent courage to overcome my terror. But I won’t say that because it isn’t true. I did wake up that next morning and take the train to the airport. I did get on a Continental flight bound for the airport at St. Thomas. I did spend six days on St. John. But it wasn’t courage that helped me to triumph over my fears in those anxious moments the night before I traveled. It was pride. Going to St. John had become all about saving face.

That night, I had begun to fantasize about actually having to tell people that I was too scared to go off on my own. No way. Not gonna happen. Me, actually admit that I got scared? Never! It was that same indignant pride that moved me through and past those hours of sheer dread. That tipped the scales in favor of traveling alone in spite of my fears. And I’m not in the least bit ashamed to confess it. Hey, whatever works.

Maho Bay, St. John, U.S.V.I.

Fear? Gone without a trace. Maho Bay, St. John, U.S.V.I.

I did go to St. John–and I had a marvelous time. I swam, took walks along the beach, kayaked in a lagoon, hiked the rugged trails. I befriended locals and travelers alike. I hitchhiked my way across the island (a whole ‘nother story). Basically, fear went right out of the window. St. John had become the locus of my liberation.

I will always remember those six days I spent in St. John as though they were magic. Like a giant, organic coming out party where I announced to the world that I was ready to seek out and embrace all of its secrets, travel partner or no.

I haven’t looked back since.

224 Responses to The Birth of a Solo Traveler

  1. runtobefit says:

    Good for you!! Glad you got to take your trip.

    http://www.runtobefit.wordpress.com

  2. surf72 says:

    nice post and good for you!

  3. [...] To own the truth, St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands wasn’t even on my radar. Last March, a perfect storm of conditions converged to make a completely unexpected trip a reality: an inexpensive airfare that coincided with my spring break weekend and the discovery of a ridiculously affordable campsite on the island. It was much too good to … Read More [...]

  4. Wow – you are one brave woman. Not many women (or men) would consider traveling alone like that. But I bet there is something rewarding about it to. Glad you posted this!

  5. Nice blog! I never get the courage to travel alone yet. But I want to. Actually I am planning to start already here in the Philippines first, then abroad. Maybe I will try on the next travel sale. :)

    BTW, congrats for being on Freshly Pressed!

  6. Emily Jane says:

    What a wonderful story! I love the idea of travelling solo – I’ve only done it once, and it was a bit scary, but you’re right – very rewarding :)

  7. Katie says:

    Good for you! My friend and I are headed home tomorrow after 2 months in Costa Rica. I don’t think I would’ve had the nerve to come alone, but I always admire women who do – we met one in her 50′s a couple of days ago who was having a blast on her own! (We met her rappelling down waterfalls, by the way.) Doesn’t matter if it was pride, courage or a combination of the two – you DID it!

    • Marsha says:

      Woohoo! Hope you had an awesome time in Costa Rica. I keep hearing amazing things about it. Look forward to reading about it on your blog!

  8. riparianrhapsody says:

    Awesome! What a liberating experience :)

  9. I wish I had your bravery. I have often thought about traveling on my own but am much too scared.

    • Marsha says:

      You can do it! I used to be afraid too, but I think one day I just got sick of being scared and said to heck with waiting for someone to travel with!

  10. wadingacross says:

    You’ve been pressed!

    I’ve gone on a couple of international trips by myself. Quite an experience.

    A good friend of mine and I had intended on doing a trip to Europe too, but the cost and timing became overwhelmingly prohibitive.

    If it’s meant to be, it will be. Beaches aren’t my idea of a good vacaction, but to each their own. And while travelling with a companion has pluses, so can going alone.

  11. Lindsay says:

    Kudos to you!!! I want to become a solo traveler, too. I think everyone should do it at least once. You’ll be my inspiration!

  12. I definitely know that feeling of panic — I get it constantly while traveling and I prefer to have a second person there to bounce my ideas off of. My wife finds this irritating. But it’s calming to voice my thoughts and a second person can offer feedback and the illusion of protection. I don’t know if I’ll ever enjoy traveling alone.

    So here is the respect that you are due:

    *RESPECT*

    I came to your post via Freshly Pressed.
    Ryan

  13. oldsalt1942 says:

    Better to have gone alone than to not have gone at all.

  14. How great for you! I want to go too! I did take a road trip by myself half way across the country about 12 years ago. I can totally identify with the fear & then the liberation at having done it. It was much more enjoyable then I thought it would be. Thanks for sharing!

    • Marsha says:

      Road trip! I did one of those solo last year too. Amazing, amazing, amazing experience. Stay tuned–I plan to write about my experience in an upcoming blog!

  15. Deb says:

    You know that old saying…”You go girl” ? Well you just lived it! Love your story, I am a traveler also. Love being solo because you can do and go where you please, and the only one you have to please is yourself.
    Bravo to all girl solo travelers!

  16. Whoa says:

    I love it. :) I did the same last February – when I was ‘planning’ on using time to take a trip with an Ex. We ended before the trip date, and I used the trip as a way to solidify my relationship with MYSELF.

    Making a list for the future of places I want to go – maybe solo, maybe not – the point is the trip, the journey.

  17. Nene says:

    Awesome! I have always wanted to do it. But I’m not good at navigation. But then I pick up languages fast. I should be traveling alone too!

  18. You’re soooo brave! Traveling alone AND hitchhiking in another country make my spine cringe. Good luck in your travels!

  19. Modern Funk says:

    You’re a rock star. :)

  20. npathak7 says:

    I’ve traveled alone as well…and it is lonely. That was the largest difficulty I found but it is a lot of fun!! Keep it up! I also have a travel blog in case you’d be interested in following…enjoy!

    ihavebeef.wordpress.com

    Nisha

  21. awesome. you are living my dream ma’am

  22. Jim says:

    Traveling alone can be one of the most exhilarating experiences!! I had that experience of extreme fear and anxiety before going to Istanbul. Great post, look forward to reading more.

  23. Katy says:

    Awesome! I’ve traveled alone quite a bit (India, Cambodia, Nepal, Costa Rica and parts of Europe) and totally relate to this. I just booked a trip to Guatemala and was freaking out yesterday after reading travel forums with stories about being mugged there. Almost made me want to cancel the trip.
    Can’t wait to hear about the hitchhiking. I’ve never been brave enough to do that.

    Katy

    http://thesinglesupplement.com

  24. Madison Woods says:

    Sometimes I travel for work and I loved the first time I went out alone all the way to the other side of the country, to places I’d never seen before :) Love your blog, and love to see you promoting the virtues of traveling on your own. Not sure it’s my *preferred* way to go, but it can definitely be enjoyable sometimes.

  25. Lil John says:

    Have you ever been scared to travel by yourself? Please be careful out there hitch hiking and what not.

  26. That’s a spot I’ve long wanted to visit.

    Traveling alone is an amazing experience — I did it for four months when I was 20, in four European countries — and have done it many times since, from Istanbul to Thailand. I have encountered the most terrifying behavior in the U.S. and the greatest warmth, alone, in foreign lands.

    Good for you!

    • Marsha says:

      Wow–I’m ashamed to say I haven’t been to Europe yet, but I can’t wait to go. So true about the warmth of the people you encounter. I’ve had some of the best times with strangers abroad. Happy travels!

  27. CrystalSpins says:

    I recently went on a solo trip to NYC. I’m sure it wasn’t the same because I had friends in NYC. But getting there was rather harrowing. And I was very emotional about the whole thing — especially while I was alone in the city — which really was a lot of the trip.

    Congrats to you for overcoming your fear — even if it was because of your personal pride. Sounds like a great way to accomplish things to me.

    Crystal
    http://www.crystalspins.com

    • Marsha says:

      Hey there Crystal! At least you’re getting out there even if you’re meeting friends. It’s all about taking baby steps. Hope you give solo travel another go! :)

  28. Wow, great for you that you had the guts to travel on your own! Congrats on getting Freshly Pressed!

  29. barb7802 says:

    I was down the beach from you, alone as well. Except for the gentlemen I was flirting with!Ahh, but alas tis not true. It was only a momentary transport of time, in my mind. :) Sometimes being alone helps us find ourselves. Nice Post.
    http://cafetodaymyblog.wordpress.com/

    • Marsha says:

      Barb–

      It’s nice to dream, isn’t it?

      Solo travel has absolutely taught me more about myself and what I’m capable of and I think that’s one of the reasons I enjoy it so much.

  30. Good for you.

    My first solo trip was a three night bike trip, camping. As a city girl, camping alone was kind of scary, but I did it. Five years later, I take my sons on cycling tours with me, and take trips alone, too. Being on a bike, I can stop whenever and wherever I like. People can approach me, like when I got invited to share chili and beer with a another group at the campsite.

    Camping is inexpensive once you have the gear, and easy enough to go anytime. Go do it.

    • Marsha says:

      One of my favorite memories of St. John was that everyone at the campsite wanted to take care of me because they knew I was alone. One family from Indiana always offered me drinks every evening when I ran into them watching the sun set on the beach. Good times!

  31. gigi says:

    I travel alone all the time, but hardly ever out of my country or by plane. I went to Scotland in May and survived getting lost in Edinburgh.

    Not everyone goes two by two.
    :-)

    Good for you for taking the trip in spite of the fear!

    • Marsha says:

      Gigi–I think travel is travel, no matter where you go, as long as you’re enlarging your boundaries. And indeed, we don’t all come in pairs, lol!

  32. Dan Wade says:

    Good for you!! You’ve lived my dream! I wish I had gone travelling when I was younger instead of drinking my money away in dark clubs. Well done!

    http://danjswade.wordpress.com

  33. you have just given me the confidence to travel alone round Europe for 1 months, pure and simple, in one word, inspirational :) x

  34. Kim says:

    You go grrrl! Such is life – the biggest risks pay off the biggest rewards! And sometimes the things we’re most scared to do end up being a huge turning point for us. Look where that little 6 day trip got you!!

  35. kittymartine says:

    I can’t even go to a movie by myself…This is amazing, your photos are beautiful.

    • Marsha says:

      Awwww…if you want to get out on your own and travel but you’re a little scared to, just take baby steps in that direction. Thanks for the compliment on my photos, BTW–it means a lot!

  36. pltprincess says:

    Good for you! Welcome to the wonderful world of the solo traveler! My nomadic spirit drives me to travel much more often than I have friends or family willing to accompany me, so I have taken many a trip solo and enjoyed each and every one immensely.

    The first solo trip, while scary, often offers opportunity for self-grow, the flexing and expansion of one’s comfort zone. Your story reminds me that sometimes we have to get in over our heads to realize that we’re not really in over our heads at all.

    Safe and happy travels!!

    • Marsha says:

      I love the way you put that. The time I spent in St. John was perhaps the most peaceful and relaxing I’ve ever known…and I can’t believe I almost missed it! Happy travels right back atcha!

  37. You never know what you are going to find when you travel. It can be great or awful – with or without a travel buddy. Good for you to allow pride to make yourself do it. When courage refuses to surface, the thought of losing face can push us on.

    • Marsha says:

      Travel is certainly risky and full of uncertainties, but I comfort myself in the knowledge that life is too. You never know what you’re going to get.

  38. rayton12 says:

    Wow that’s great! Keep up this attitude!

  39. sis621 says:

    Sounds so mystical.. I’d love to go there! Glad you were blessed by such an amazing vacation.

    • Marsha says:

      I get so selfish about St. John sometimes but yes, it comes highly recommended. I don’t like traveling to the same place much, but I’d go back to St. John in a heartbeat!

  40. redefinition says:

    I am absolutely happy that I came across your blog on WordPress’s homepage! I am on a journey to become a solo traveler as well. I’m adding your blog to my Google Reader. Best of luck to you! :)

    • Marsha says:

      That means so much to me–thank you! And best of luck on your solo travel journey. Check out some of the other blogs and links in my blogroll for other inspiring solo travelers.

  41. Jane McConnell (Janey Liz) says:

    You’re inspiring. With all these government spending cuts in the UK, your blog just inspires me day by day to take off!!! All the best for your travels.

  42. lennymaysay says:

    Hey Marsha,

    Great to know that there’s a whole communinity of solo travellers out there. I’m not particularly fond of solo air travel (done it a bit), but I do love solo road trips.

    • Marsha says:

      Lenny–Stay tuned. I’ll be blogging about my solo cross-country road trip sometime in the future. Single best experience EVER!

  43. twa2r says:

    G0od for you! Congratulations! Don’t you wish you’d stepped out years ago? – Robert

  44. hamster says:

    I admire you for going and having a good time. I, too, often find myself doing things on my own; hiking, biking. I find I enjoy it just as much as when with friends. It is a different experience. My son travelled through India alone when he was 20; he wanted to see exotic places and was not able to get anyone else to go. He had a great time and met lots of people there. They were very friendly and took him to their homes to meet their parents and he just had a great time. I think it was a life changing experience for him.
    Have fun!

    • Marsha says:

      Thanks! I’ve found that I’m much more comfortable interacting with people when I’m traveling alone that when I’m at home. Funny how that works.

  45. Bravo to you! A great example of powerful womanhood. Read “The Female Nomad,” by Rita Golden Gelman, if you haven’t already. You will love it. She also has a website.

  46. Tiffany Hope says:

    Hey, congratulations! You’ve been wordpressed today! And keep going, girl, because you’ve done something that most of us wouldn’t even dare to consider. Oohh, I have always wanted to go crazy and travel around the world… :)

    • Marsha says:

      Tiffany–if only I were independently weathly, I’d travel non-stop I think, lol! I think a lot of people feel the way you do but once you get started and the travel bug bites you it’s like a disease for which there is no cure.

      Thanks for the congrats!

  47. harpersfarm says:

    Good for you!!! I am glad you went on your trip and decided to share it. Your picture is beautiful!!! Looks like you had a wonderful time. :)

    • Marsha says:

      Thanks! I did have a great time. Whenever I share my joy about this trip, it takes me back and makes me happy all over again! :) <—see?

  48. Ashley Smith says:

    Loved your post. I too went on a solo adventure this year…all the way to Ireland. Not going to lie I had a bit of anxiety myself, but once I got there–oh my gosh. Best experience EVER! :)

    • Marsha says:

      It’s so true. You make yourself crazy wondering about all the bad things that could happen that you forget about all of the possibilities for amazing things. Glad you had such a great experience. I’ve been dying to go to Ireland!

  49. kkbirnie says:

    Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

    Last year when I turned 50 I made plans with girlfriends to fulfill a lifelong dream to visit Greece. With only weeks before departure, plans changed for valid work- and economic-related reasons so that only I could still go on to Greece. I asked at least 8-9 others if anyone could go, I considered not going, but remembered that it was the original reason for the trip to Europe and that I had waited 25 years to get that close, so I chinned up, made solo plans, modified for safety of a single woman and had a glorious 2 weeks in Greece (and unexpected stop in Turkey). On my own. It was wonderful. In fact, I think it is preferred.

    It has been exactly one year and although I blogged about the travels, I’ve never written about this aspect because to really celebrate the achievement of traveling alone, I would have to talk about my disappointments and some unhappy things. To you, Marsha, bravo!
    http://www.naleialoha.net/2009/10/24/hawaii-in-santorini/

    • Marsha says:

      What an empowering story! I’m glad you didn’t let circumstances dictate your trip or change your mind. Good on you for going anyway. I’d love to read your blog!

  50. Amazing! Congrats on taking the solo plunge! I started travelling alone a few years ago. Granted, by solo trips were work-related but it was still travelling! Traversing airports, security lines and getting to and from your final destinations are the hardest part for me. Once I’m there I’m happy to explore, but it’s the getting there that’s the most stressful for me.

    Glad you had an awesome time!! :)

    Drive on,
    - M.

  51. Colin L Beadon says:

    That is the way to go Marsha. The only thing I hate about traveling, is having somebody with me. The true excitement is in the journey, and who you might run into, and which way to may decide to turn. The untrodden path, and where it might lead.

    • Marsha says:

      Thanks, Colin–some of my experiences I’ve had traveling with people have been less than completely positive too so I understand where you’re coming from. But I’ve also had amazing experiences too!

  52. travelingmad says:

    Congratulations on being freshly pressed!!

    I enjoyed this blog. I’m also glad you were able to travel alone and have a fantastic time! I have traveled alone before myself and I love it.
    You meet so many more people when you’re alone versus traveling in a group or pack. People are more willing to strike up a conversation with you.

    Great pic! Keep on traveling!

    • Marsha says:

      Thank you!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I agree that you have so much more potential for meeting people when you’re alone. And that’s one of the best parts! Happy travels!

  53. Catherine says:

    Marsha,
    This is amazing and exactly what I needed to read right now. I just came out of a long relationship, and me and my ex fiancee used to go on trips together to the Bahamas, Jamaica, etc. I was feeling all down that I will not able to go on one of those trips again any time soon. But your trip sounds amazing, and what a liberating experience! I think I’m going to start considering a trip for next year, with a friend or by myself, but I shouldn’t give up traveling to beautiful places because I don’t have a man to go with me. Thank you!!
    http://simplysolo.wordpress.com

    • Marsha says:

      Catherine—

      You go girl! Glad you’re heading out on your own. It really is so liberating. Have a great time on your travels! :)

  54. Go girl! It’s a truism: you only live once…at least on this planet.

    Thanks!

  55. geekpyxie says:

    Bravo to you, lone traveler! I took a semester off in college, got a work permit for the UK, and lived in Edinburgh for 6 months back in 1996. People here in the States and there in Scotland thought I was crazy to “jump off the edge of the world all alone”, as someone once put it. But it was just something I needed to do for myself, even if my parents’ first responses to my plan were (semi)negative. I traveled all over Scotland by train, bus, and car; to Paris via train where I walked all over the city alone; and to Bergen, Norway via Newcastle and a 24-hour-long ferry ride. Someone above said it right when they said it was sometimes lonely–but seeing what I saw, being where I was, and striking up conversations with random people was an experience I will never forget.

    Again, BRAVO TO YOU!!!
    gp

  56. Kate Cook says:

    I LOVE this post! Stumbled across it on Freshly Pressed (congrats, by the way!) and I relate so much to that experience. While I didn’t vacation by myself, I took last semester off of college to take an amazing internship in Washington, DC — a city where I didn’t know a soul. Of course, I met plenty of fabulous people and made wonderful friends over those months, but there was still that gripping moment before the journey, as you settle in somewhere new and are struck by the fact that you are totally, truly independent. Or when you wake up in the morning to sight-see alone — at first scared, then lonely, then proud, and finally that moment when you realize you are the best company you could have asked for, and you are enough for yourself. I get the sense that you have discovered that in yourself as well. I admire you for your bravery in going solo to vacation so far from home, and I look forward to reading more!

    • Marsha says:

      Thanks so much for the post love! Glad you had an opportunity to go out on your own. When those moments of fear and uncertainty dissipate into excitement and anticipation that makes it all worthwhile!

  57. thorsaurus says:

    Interesting how the mind works, your fear of going was trumped by your fear of not going. Now you fear neither, having gone, and now admitting (on a worldwide forum no less) that you almost didn’t. Congratulations.

    • Marsha says:

      LOL! There’s something about being transparent that’s really attractive to me right now. I don’t mind so much people knowing that I was scared to go as long as I did go and overcome my fears, I guess. The mind really is a mysterious thing….

  58. crush-monkey says:

    GOOD for you!! : )

    Sometimes people look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them I’m going away solo!

    Happy to see you on the front page of wordpress today!

    you get it!!!

    : )

    • Marsha says:

      Crush-monkey is such a cute name!!!! :)

      I get the crazy looks sometimes but it’s okay. Those of us who’ve traveled solo know how awesome it is!

      Keep on travelin’! :)

  59. Bipolar Pensante says:

    Nice post, very inspiring! Thanks :)
    Someday I´ll have the guts to go travel around, my country first, which is Brazil… see ya around!

  60. Mary says:

    Congrats on being freshly pressed!
    Although I’ve travelled a lot, I just made my first truly solo trip to Haiti last week. It was absolutely scary (especially with my limited French), but I was able to sort out a ride to the hotel and they introduced me to an orphanage where I could volunteer. I met great people and can’t wait to go back.

    • Marsha says:

      How incredibly brave of you to travel to a place where there was so much devastation just a few months ago. Glad you were able to get out to Haiti and volunteer. I’m sure your efforts were appreciated. Keep on travelin’!

  61. Caitlin says:

    I pulled the solo travel move to Europe this time last year. Same dread and fear (even encountered a man in Paris I am pretty sure was trying to collect me for the sex slave trade, but I’m a badass and a smarty. Needless to say, I did NOT accept his offer of joining him that evening, NOR telling him where I was staying. ;))

    Once you go without a partner, you realize one isn’t needed and suddenly, the world seems a whole lot smaller.

    LOVE!

  62. gnarlyoak says:

    How tough was it to hitch hike across St John?

  63. Marsha, I can relate to what you said: jumping on a great travel deal and later fretting over the “what could happen to me as a single woman” anxieties.
    I’ve been taking baby-steps: traveling on group tours, but on my own in a sense, because I don’t know anyone in the group at first. Also, I like to spend a lot of time on my own, exploring towns. This was fine when I went to Ireland, where I understand the language. But Sicily made me nervous, until I got there and realized communication would not be a problem.
    I’m still not brave enough (or proactive enough) to plan a trip totally on my own and have no one to meet up with. I think it’s terrific that you have that spirit to travel and don’t let other people’s plans affect yours. I look forward to more of your adventures. -Jen

    • Marsha says:

      Jen–thanks for your sweet words and congrats about striking out on your own. It really is among one of the most liberating things a person can do. Good luck on all your future travels. :)

  64. 明明如月 says:

    you are awesome. I always dream of travelling alone but never have the guts or the mood to do it.
    your blog is very inspiring and makes me believe a girl can also backpack and walk the globe!

    I love travelling and photography, my blog is in Chinese.
    subscribed!

  65. I love that you’ve made this the whole theme for your blog. I live in London so I’m trying to take all the Euro trips I can while I’m here!

    Also, congrats on being Freshly Pressed. My blog got FP’d yesterday and it was so cool!

    • Marsha says:

      Travel has become kind of an obsession so having a blog helps me keep it under control, lol! Going to check out your blog right now!

      • I think it’s really nice that you have replied to everyone. I tried to reply to everyone, too. I hate when people get Freshly Pressed and don’t respond to even one person! All these people have so many thoughts they want to share about your article so it’s nice to get responses!!

        I’m definitely going to come back to your blog regularly.

  66. Congratulations!
    I came to solo travelling because I like going to the Middle East and it’s not easy to find travel partners there. So I have gone alone to Lebanon, Israel, Syria and Iran on several trips. Fantastic experiences: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/travels/

  67. Glad your pride made you go. I’ve had the opportunity to go to St. Croix, it is lovely there. I totally understand the anxiety about solo travel though. I drove down to Savannah recently to visit by myself. The night before going I realized no one knew where I was staying and thought, what if something happened to me. I watch way too many police type shows. So I gave the info of my lodging to my manager at work and a friend. My friend also called me daily to make sure I was alright. My paranoia caused her paranoia to arise:). You can never be too safe but not going about and seeing this world should not be an option. I actually really enjoyed it. It gave me more time to myself and my thoughts. I also met some new people. Hope you have more solo and safe trips.

    • Marsha says:

      Sophia–That’s a very important point. I usually make an itinerary with where I’m staying, what I expect to be doing, etc. and send it to my family and maybe a couple of friends. It gives me peace of mind to know that someone else knows where I am and helps my mom not to freak out, lol! Glad you’ve had the opportunity to travel about! I’m traveling to Savannah myself in a few weeks. I’m so excited! Thanks and happy travels!

  68. Speaking for myself, I find solo travel to be the better way to begin with: We can see our friends at home—and leaving them there makes it easier to enjoy a foreign country. Consider the greater flexibility and ability to chose what to see and do without compromise, the reduced distraction of small talk from the fascinating environment, and the greater ease of leaving thoughts relating to home behind.

    The one down-side is that traveling in a group makes it easier to cope with unexpected misfortune (e.g. a stolen wallet); however, with due precautions and the right mindset, the risk and negative effects of such misfortunes can be minimized.

    As for your fears about “Theft. Kidnapping. Assault. Rape. Murder.”, this largely boils down to “There is nothing to fear but fear it self.”: These things do happen, but they are comparatively rare, they are not automatically more likely to happen because one travels (with reservations for where one travels: Colombia and Afghanistan are not ideal for tourists), and by avoiding obvious stupidities (e.g. walking drunk in dark alleys after midnight) one can make them even less likely. Not being conspicuously “tourist” can also dodge a few problems.

  69. Patrick says:

    Awesome!. I’ll check the rest of your blog.
    Greetings from Argentina.
    -Patrick.

  70. dellajune says:

    Wonderful post! I’ve been blogging about an upcoming trip to India, and I enjoyed hearing another solo traveler’s thoughts. Definitely going to be reading your blog in the future. Congratulations for making Freshly Pressed!

  71. lbwong says:

    Wow–nice! I think I would have felt exactly the same and done exactly the same ;-) How memorable is that?! Congrats on Freshly Pressed and love the pic too! LB

  72. Fleg123 says:

    Hey,

    I just wanted to say congratulations on your trip, looks awesome.

    As a solo traveler myself, I just returned home from a 3 month solo backpacking trek across western (and some of eastern) Europe. Solo travel is absolutely one of the most liberating and exhilarating experiences.

    Hope to see more exciting updates

    -A new reader

  73. glacierwave says:

    I too travel solo. The more you do it, the braver and more confident you get in travel and in other areas of life. Enjoy!

  74. You go, girl! Really! How empowering is THIS! Kudos for taking the risk.
    Big hugs :)

  75. alastor993 says:

    Well done! Fear is the biggest magnet for the nagetive, never let it take you agian!!! I traveled to China, where I’m living now, and it made me feel strong! All the fears I had were wasted energy and absolutely unfounded!
    So, be proud of yourself, you’ve done it! And if you’re ever wanna come this way, look me up through my blog, I’m in Shanghai
    Cheers!

  76. Lorraine says:

    Welcome to the world of traveling. Be it solo or with a friend or someone you met on the road, this will become an addiction I assure you. Like you I’m a female solo traveler (most of the time) and once you get over the initial attack of nerves and paranoia you’ll find out that traveling solo is very enjoyable. It enables you to be more open to more people and more experiences rather than stuck with your own company the whole time.
    Come to Asia next! Happy travels!

    • Marsha says:

      So true, Lorraine! It has become an addiction. I’ve been to South Korea once before and I’d love to travel through the rest of Asia sometime soon. Hope you have another travel adventure soon!

  77. Ekua says:

    Awesome post, Marsha. Those feelings of liberation are probably the most satisfying thing about traveling solo. I didn’t tell very many people about my first extended solo travel trip because I didn’t want to hear the inevitable; the speeches of the terrors of traveling that would make me nervous… I was nervous enough on my own. So what really nudged me was the money I spent and the thoughts of “now or never”. If I really want to go somewhere, I don’t have to wait for someone to join me!

    I’m loving that so many people are seeing this post, hopefully it’ll encourage more people to consider traveling solo!

    • Marsha says:

      Ekua–I really am excited about the exposure the post has received and hearing people, especially women, say they’ve been motivated to travel solo because of it. That means so much to me because I remember how it felt to want to travel and not have anyone to go with you. Thanks for your comments–I’m looking forward to your next adventure, wherever it is! :p

  78. lunchwithmary says:

    I often have anxiety about travelling, especially airplanes, and I’m so glad you pushed through.

    A bit jealous that you got to hang out on such a beautiful beach.

  79. Well done on still going, no matter what it was that convinced you to! The thought of travelling on my own absolutely terrifies me – maybe one day I’ll get there.

    • Marsha says:

      Solo travel is great for me but if you have someone you can travel with, that’s fine too. If travel is something you want to do, I just think it’s important you get out there and do it!

  80. everythingneat says:

    Congratulations on being featured on Freshly Pressed!
    Great that you were able to overcome your fear and have such a wonderful trip.
    I’ve successfully travelled solo many times in Europe and Asia and, although I love the freedom, sometimes it’s nice to have a glass of wine and evening meal and talk about the adventures of the day with someone you know.
    Hitch hiking is not the safest way to travel. You may want to rethink that one. I’m old enough to know many people who have had bad and/or traumatic experiences.
    Also, read about solo women travellers and watch for pick pockets. By being aware of my surroundings and belongings and the scams I was recently able to side step attempts in Paris and Rome.

    • alastor993 says:

      Yes! Pick pocketing is “easely” prevented by having your money and important documents in a belt poutch that you can wear inside you pants, you can buy these in any traveler store. And always be aware of your surroundings is very important, after a while you get used to doing it and you’ll be able to recodnize certain scams/people/tricks.

    • Marsha says:

      I certainly don’t advocate hitchhiking in general but it is generally part of the culture in St. John. I probably wouldn’t try it anywhere else. As for pickpocketing, if you take steps like alastor suggested like wearing a belt pouch and not keeping all of your money in the same place, you can avoid being in a difficult situation.

  81. Lara says:

    Good for you! As much as I love traveling with friends and family, there’s really nothing like exploring a place on your own. I’ve traveled to Italy, Chile, and several US locations by myself over the years. I even navigated Shanghai on my own once (for a day, anyway!). Solo travel is scary, exhilarating, and life-altering almost every time. I’m so glad you experienced it! :)

    P.S. Congrats on being “Freshly Pressed” today! I was right there with you – “Are We Really Helping Our Kids Get Healthy?”.

    • Marsha says:

      Solo travel really is an amazing experience in spite of the uncertainties of it all. I wouldn’t change a thing about any of my solo adventures.

      Thanks for the congrats! I look forward to checking out your blog!

  82. kx3u says:

    This is great! I hope that I can do something like this someday and have as much fun as you did!

  83. gigi says:

    “Because life isn’t like Noah’s Ark. We’re not all meant to travel in twos.” great line, love it :D i’d be the happiest if i’m able to do what you just did…:D

  84. Annette says:

    I am so proud of you!!!!! I as well came to the realization that I could sit on the side lines because I didn’t have a traveling partner, and marvel at all of the places others had visited or I could just go…..
    As females we just have to be a little street wise and use our common sense….but the accomplishment of “Just doing it” is awesome!!!

    I hope you keep traveling …life is too short to sit idle… I have so many places that I want to see yet.

    Annette

    • Marsha says:

      Annette–I have every intention of continuing to travel. It’s so addictive! Keep on traveling and thanks for your sweet words!

  85. shazhat says:

    Wow! I’m inspired :) I’m actually planning a solo trip to Italy next April – part of my ‘I’m turning 30′ present to myself. Can’t wait to experience what you have. Thanks for sharing!

    • Marsha says:

      Awesome! Italy will be amazing–I’m so excited for you. Hope you’ll share some of your adventures on your blog. Thanks and happy travels! :)

  86. [...] To own the truth, St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands wasn’t even on my radar. Last March, a perfect storm of conditions converged to make a completely unexpected trip a reality: an inexpensive airfare that coincided with my spring break weekend and the discovery of a ridiculously affordable campsite on the island. It was much too good to … Read More [...]

  87. honey says:

    WOW! always wanted to go backpacking on my own but i dont have the courage. so maybe one day i will too! very inspiring! :)

    • Marsha says:

      You can do it! I hope one day you have an opportunity to go out on your own and that you will find the courage to pursue it! Good luck on all your travels!

  88. clairela says:

    I adore the gorgeous picture of you smiling away with your feet in that clear blue water! wonderful!
    I am travelling to Brazil for 6 weeks on my own at the end of February, and have been so excited learning Portuguese, planning, etc. So many people try to tell me that I am crazy, but I am a careful intelligent woman! I am not going to Brazil to go to bars and get drunk and wait around for bad things to happen. I don’t plan on being a stupid tourist! lol ! My boyfriend will be with me in Rio for two weeks, but that month on my own? I’m excited to accompany myself on the voyage of my dreams.
    Good for you! Keep travelling… you are a true inspiration to us independant women.

    • Marsha says:

      The water in St. John is unreal! Every time I would round a corner, I was in total awe of how clear and blue it was! I’m so excited that not only are you traveling to Brazil but your studying Portuguese too–good for you! So many people don’t even bother to embrace the local language so you’re already one step ahead. Hope you have an amazing time with (and without) your boyfriend. Thanks for the lovely words and happy travels!

  89. couldn’t agree more! I am currently spending two months alone traveling through europe and focusing on amsterdam while writing a blog about it! traveling alone is definitely simultaneously thrilling and draining as your adrenaline is constantly slightly elevated!

    • Marsha says:

      It is draining, isn’t it? But it’s also energizing as well. Enjoy Amsterdam–I’d love to get over there some day! Good luck on all your travels!

  90. Terri says:

    Wow, good for you.I have often wondered about travelling on my own, but the world is just too dangerous, especially if it is one’s first time travelling. I have travel plans with my mum for after next year, going to europe. I have always wanted to go to america, visit disneyland. Maybe I will get there one day. Intereting blog! thanks.

    • Marsha says:

      Terri–I enjoy traveling alone but you may not feel comfortable with it yet and that’s okay. I’m just glad that you’re traveling, solo or not! Thanks and happy travels!

  91. tarnia says:

    Great post! Im 17 and have been travelling solo for the last 3 months. Well, kinda solo – staying at horse farms and training/working horses. So living with people. But Ive never met them before meeting them at the airport :)

    • Marsha says:

      Tarnia–I just checked out your blog and wow! I’m so impressed with all the traveling you’re doing on your own at your age! Seems like your job has allowed you to go all over the world. How cool! Will be checking out your blog in the future. Keep on travelin’!

  92. Terri says:

    Can’t say I’m use to planes, I’ve only been on one once so it will be my second time.I’m looking forward to it! I would like to actually get out of australia, so I might even find somewhere to live whilst on our travels.

    • Marsha says:

      I’m not fond of planes myself, but I’m always excited about where they take me. Hope you get out Australia one day (the funny thing is I want to get into Australia, lol!) You don’t even have to leave your country to travel–there can be so many beautiful, exciting, and interesting places right at home. Enjoy your travels!

  93. Nice post. Takes a lot of guts to travel alone. Maybe it’s time for me to embark on a solo voyage. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Marsha says:

      It does take a lot of guts to travel solo but it’s so incredibly rewarding to overcome your fears and get out there. Happy travels!

  94. ningsyafitri says:

    so beautifull.. Great!!!
    Nice to know you…

  95. ningsyafitri says:

    If I could go there,,, Hehehe

    I like that sky blue…
    Nice to know you…

  96. Gray says:

    I love it! As you say “Whatever works.” If that was the thing to get you to try solo travel, so be it. :-)

  97. Congratulations on your achievement!Way to go for not letting fear keep you from doing something you never did before:-)

  98. nice post marsha..

    good job!! ;)

  99. Meaghan says:

    Solo travel is the best thing you can ever do for yourself. You really get to find out what you are made of!!! I remember making a decision to sell my house in Australia and buying a one way ticket to the UK with a work visa. The whole process took less than two months from decision to getting on the plane. Days before I left I would wake up with heart palpitations and extreme anxiety – but I just told myself all I had to do was get on the plane and deal with the next bit when I got there!
    If I had have waited for a friend to come with me, I would still be waiting…it is 14 years since my first overseas trip – and it was done all by myself…
    You meet fantastic people on the way and are more open to talking to people than if you had taken along a friend. You do things you normally wouldn’t because no one is there telling you who you are – you get to make it up as you go along.
    I definitely think it is something everyone should do – especially in other countries. It is great to see how other people live, and how little things make people happy. Some of my most amazing memories are of children’s happy faces in Africa where they have next to nothing!!! It really helps you come to the realisation that deep down we are all the same – we all want to be happy and to be loved and a good quality of life.
    May you all have the most wonderful solo trips, and also enjoy sharing the path with others when the occasion arrises.

    • Marsha says:

      Meaghan–This is really beautiful. What you did required so much courage to sell everything and move to a different country on your own? Wow. I agree that travel gives you a fresh perspective on life and sometimes, we need that.

      Happy travels and thanks for the travel wishes!

  100. WOW!! That is is amazing!! And that photo of the blue waters I am sure you took one look at that and it was all worth it! I commend you going on you own whether it was out of pride our courage it is still awesome!!

  101. donibanget says:

    wow,… inspiring….

  102. excellent! There is so much life out there, if only we would have the courage (and yes, it did take courage to face yourself!) to go partake! Beautiful! Thanks for sharing this! Great blog!

  103. randomischief says:

    An enjoyable post. Good on you! I’m looking forward to hearing about your future travel plans!

  104. Monica Soto says:

    I’ve always wanted to travel alone but had the same fears. Your blog is touching, real, and inspiring. I love it!

  105. Marsha, ryan CHANDELIER appreciates your efforts in educating those who believe that taking the amtrak from Rancho Bernardo to La Mesa requires 2 weeks vacation time. Personally, I have scaled the many highs and lows of traveling the globe. I’ve walked the great wall of Edmonton. I’ve scaled the leaning tower of Chechnya (it wasn’t leaning when I started going up). I’ve swum the crystal clear, brown waters of Manchester. One thing I have never done though – risk RSI in my index finger scrolling past 196 comments to make my own. Bravo!

  106. [...] been a good week. Much to my surprise, my Thursday blog post (“The Birth of a Solo Traveler”) was featured on WordPress.com’s Freshly Pressed [...]

  107. The Birth of a Solo Traveler…How can i explain my feelings about your posts…I am overwhelmed to see your great travel blog.

  108. you’re a great writer!

  109. Lui says:

    I love this post. I’m planning my own solo travel next year, I hope I’ll have a grand time myself. Thanks for sharing your experience. :)

  110. threesixtwo says:

    I love this and can totally relate to your fears of traveling alone. Thank you for bringing these worries to the surface and equally banishing them!

  111. Lisa Rogak says:

    Cool! You just gotta plug your nose and do it. I left my homebase behind 2 months ago to travel full-time, and really, once I started, I thought, “Really? What was I afraid of?”

    Cheers!

    Lisa Rogak

  112. Traveling alone has been the single most life changing experiences of my life… It really does dispel your fears and make you comfortable with things you normally wouldn’t be. Especially as a woman. It’s good to hear someone else’s insights on this.

  113. The Letter "B" says:

    Hurray for solo travel! I have an aunt who has been traveling solo for the last 15-20 years. She has been an inspiration to me. My first solo trip abroad was to England in 2008. It was a bit daunting the night before but as I boarded the train to the airport I was more overwhelmed with thoughts about what I was going to see then worries. Congrats on taking that first step and thanks for starting this blog to share your experiences and advice!

  114. [...] few months ago, I wrote an extremely well-received post about traveling to St. John, USVI and how it became a defining moment for me as a solo traveler. In [...]

  115. d'Arcy says:

    Where did you stay? I’m in need of a Caribbean vacation and would be going alone. Ddi you blog about your daily experiences?

    Here’s a link to my blog about traveling to Costa Rica and Panama with my was-band (was husband).

  116. Marsha says:

    I stayed at Cinnamon Bay Camps. Bare campsites were $30/night and ended up being the most affordable option on the island. If you’ve got a bit more cash to spend, Maho Bay Camps is another alternative. Good luck!