First things first. I’m a male who has traveled all over the world alone. Does that make me weird? I hope not. I’m sure there are a ton of other things I do that would define me as weird before we get to solo travel on the list.
No, it isn’t weird to travel alone. Most men are going to feel weird doing anything alone. But that’s also because they have no experience with it either.
If going to the movies alone is weird, then going to another country is unthinkable. But it’s something that gets better with practice. The more you do it, the easier it’ll become and the more it’ll become second nature.
I think male solo travel is less common than for females but I think that’s because we view it differently. It might be weird but that’s only because we define it that way. When women travel solo, it turns into an inspirational story akin to Eat, Pray, Love. But if men do it, it’s turned into Into the Wild. I don’t want to write any spoilers but suffice it to say, the endings are drastically different.
But I do think men sometimes have an awkward time with traveling solo vs. women. That’s a generic statement but I’ve met a lot more women who travel alone vs. men. I don’t think women are more independent than men so why the discrepancy?
It’s obviously our mindset. I think to some extent we want to look cool. Fit in. Be one of the guys but be THE guy if possible. Of course, we can’t be THE guy if we don’t have our own crew. The Fonz was THE guy and Richie and his gang wanted to be him. The Fonz had his crew. Solo travel makes us stand out but in an odd way. We feel like a pariah, and then we become self conscious about it.
How do you change your mindset?
You have to accept the fact that solo travel makes you feel uncomfortable to some extent. Especially the first time. Feeling weird or awkward is a legitimate feeling. If you were meeting a friend at a party and didn’t know anyone else there, you’d feel pretty awkward just standing around waiting for that person to show up. But you’d get used to it. You’ll eventually strike up a conversation with someone and ease into the night.
My counter question to all this would be this. Would you rather be the weird solo guy in a foreign country seeing and experiencing things your friends will only ever read about or see on tv? Or would you rather be the solo guy at home staring at a stack of empty pizza boxes? I’ve done both…and I much prefer to be somewhere other than home.
Instead of thinking of solo travel as weird, you could think of it as an adventure. How cool would it be to the Sir Hillary or Tenzing Norgay of the group? The Gagarin. The Peary. Some men lead and some men follow. Be a leader. It isn’t awkward. It’s daring. Not timid. Bold. The action of solo travel hasn’t changed but the way you define it has.
If you met you at a party…
Would you say “wow, that guy has a really interesting life”? Or would you say “he seems like a cool guy”? The first guy is someone you want to be. The guy who lives the life you want to live. The guy you see on a travel show and wish to trade places with. THE guy.
The second guy is forgettable. The guy who’s name you forget at the end of the night but wouldn’t mind hanging out with to watch a game or play poker. Nothing remarkable and nothing bad. Middle of the pack. Unmemorable.
Solo travelers are a different breed. We love independence and do things for the experience and the stories. We travel because we don’t want to be stuck in the same old itinerary a travel tour would put us in. Take the same exact photos as thousands of other people or do all the same things everyone does We like to be free thinking in our travels. Daring. Adventurous. It’s the qualities we envy in other people when we meet them and the qualities others envy about us.
Would you rather be the Fonz or Richie?