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Slow Travel Solo

This week I’m exploring the greater Puget Sound area, staying in a lovely Airbnb 40 minutes south of Seattle. I’m writing from a deck looking tall evergreens with the sunset in the distance. Although my goal is to attain a solid overview of the area, I realize I can’t see it all in a week and I don’t wish to run myself ragged. I’m a slow traveler after all, and this week a solo one. Traveling by myself has reminded me of the many perks when venturing out on your own.

Evening sun shining on downtown Seattle with Mount Ranier in the distance.

You can set your own pace

Rather than trying to see it all, I’m focusing my week on fewer locations so I have more time to explore, to walk the streets, talk to the people and get a feel for the energy of each place. Since there is no travel mate to consider, I can set my own agenda, my own schedule and my own pace. I don’t have to worry about what time I get up in the morning or what time I set off.

Enjoying a spectacular view of Seattle from Kerry Park on the south slope of Queen Anne Hill.

You have more flexibility

Part of my initial agenda was to take a two-hour drive north to Bellingham just to get a feel for the place. But after two days of driving, I realized that would mean four hours of driving to get there and back and another hour or two exploring by car, which would leave little time for walking, seeing the sights and having a meal. I’ll save Bellingham for another trip.

When you travel solo, you’re free to follow any whim and change your itinerary at any time — even at the last minute. In fact, you are free not to have any itinerary at all, which is often how I like to travel. The other day as I headed out of Gig Harbor, I saw a sign for Sunset Beach. That sounded lovely, so I turned around and headed down a winding road through dense forest to a parking lot. I grabbed my thermal lunch bag and hiked to the beach to enjoy my picnic.

A view of Mount Rainer from Ruston Way Park in Tacoma.

You can take a break

Even though part of me gets restless and wants to go, go, go and see the next thing and the next thing, I don’t want to return home exhausted. It’s a vacation after all and the whole point is to rest, relax and have new experiences. Slow travelers know it’s okay to have some down time.

Creativity and inspiration can strike when you are traveling. Some mornings I like to spend time writing. Or do Pilates and yoga, or go for a long walk. Or maybe I just want to kick back and spend a few lazy hours at the beach. And that’s okay when I’m traveling by myself.

Roses overlooking Boston Harbor near Olympia, WA.

You can take time to fully relax

I love traveling with friends, and the friends I choose to travel with are easy going and flexible. But being a bit on the neurotic side, I’m always thinking about what they want to do and if I’m getting ready too slow or being too demanding.

When you travel alone there is no one else to please or concern yourself with. It’s an opportunity to fully relax and be one with nature and your surroundings. On this trip I am visiting two friends in the area, so it’s the best of both worlds.

A lovely walk through Bellevue Botanical Gardens.

You have more time for self-reflection

When I’m with someone else, I’m continually immersed in conversation and it’s great fun. I love it. Traveling alone is a different experience. I have more time to think. I’m more in tuned with my own desires and the feelings a place invokes. It’s an ideal time for processing my thoughts and getting to know myself better. I inevitably have some sort of epiphany about my life direction, even if it’s just reconfirming what I already know. I think this might be the greatest gift I receive from traveling by myself.

Salish Lodge & Spa overlooks Snoqualmie Falls, a 268-foot waterfall located east of Seattle on the Snoqualmie River between Snoqualmie and Fall City, Washington and featured in the cult television series Twin Peaks.

If you’ve been reluctant to travel solo, I urge you to give it a try. I think the rewards you receive from stepping out of your comfort zone will be well worth it. If you enjoy solo travel, let me know in the comments below.



Hi, I’m Lori Cronwell. As a writer and frequent traveler, I admire the values most Europeans embrace: choosing quality over quantity; residing in smaller, more sustainable homes; working less and spending more time with friends and family.

Those values were key in my decision to drastically downsize to a 700 sq. ft. accessory dwelling unit (ADU) with the goal of creating a simpler, more sumptuous life with time for travel.

Slow travel, that is. Spending more time in one place — even if it’s just a week. You'll not only spend less, you'll discover a deeper and more meaningful travel experience.

Please subscribe below and join me on a journey to find affordable ways to explore Europe in the slow lane and to live a more European lifestyle every day of our lives.

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