For the last 10 months I’ve been trying to show myself a little more love by working on some serious (-ly lacking) boundaries, prioritizing self-care and pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

Part of that journey has been getting really comfortable spending some alone with myself. So far I’ve tackled solo cinema outings, unaccompanied gigs, coffee and dinners by myself, solitary UK weekends away, and a whole load of unaccompanied adventures and events. But I hadn’t yet tackled the elusive ‘solo traveller, abroad’. So recently I did a thing, and that thing was traveling to France, on my own.

Travelling abroad has always felt like the big goal in my little self-love journey

The safety net of not knowing the culture, people, language and location definitely felt like it would push me outside of any level of comfort. I love to explore new places and travelling literally feels healing to my soul. So a solo adventure for sure ticked my self-care box. And those boundaries?

I think just reaffirming that I don’t need anyone to do these things with, absolutely makes my sense of boundaries stronger, wiser and more resolute. Because why would I alter them if my own company is enjoyed well enough on its own? And if I managed it, made it through a trip abroad alone, I had this sense that I would feel really empowered by it. So abroad and abroad sans company, has been the final big hurdle. But also this really scary aim looming down the line.

My first ever solo trip abroad, seemed like a perfect way to boost the self-love vibes

When I started my whole ‘intentionally single’ mindset in the latter part of 2021, I have felt empowered by it each day since. Every action has made me feel more confident, self-assured, and more in love with me. But it hasn’t always been easy and that’s probably the reason for doing all of this. Because becoming solo confident, tackling things on my own has been at times a little (and occasionally, a lot) scary.

But I’ve found that that kind of fear can be such a good thing. It means you’re pushing through your day to day comfort levels, and discovering new things you can achieve that you didn’t think possible. I love the fear factor now in a way. I love getting comfortable with being really uncomfortable, and getting to the point where those things don’t seem scary at all anymore.

So the fundamental reasons for this little adventure were self-care and personal growth

Firstly, I’ll just point out that I’ve started trips on my own before for work purposes. But it’s a totally different experience travelling totally by yourself to when I’ve travelled abroad for work reasons sans friend or partner. For one, I’m pretty hopeless with directions, anyone who knows me will tell you that I am terrible at navigation. With those work trips I’ve always felt this safety net present. I may not be travelling with anyone directly, but my itinerary has been pre-planned by someone else. There has been no figuring anything out personally.

And also, within a matter of hours I’ve met a number of people going to the same conference I am. I’ve always been travelling pre-meeting people along the way. So I’ve never been alone, alone. But on my getaway to France, for those 60 odd hours there was no-one but me to rely on, navigate, talk to, and spend time with. This was truly solo travel. Scary AF, but I was hoping, totally worth it.

“There is a little strategy involved when traveling on your own.”

“There is a little strategy involved when traveling on your own,” commented a French stranger on the table next to me, also drinking by himself. He isn’t wrong. I have wandered around this beautiful town searching for that perfect place to eat and relax, a little more than I would if I was with someone else. And my choices always seem to be somewhere a little quieter. A table in a corner or outdoor space with a perfect view for people watching. It helps that I love to watch life steadily pass by, and that’s pretty much a solo activity, so it doesn’t matter whether I’m with someone or not. But strategy is definitely a thing I’ve found when travelling solo, there is a little more thought involved.

But in the first night I’ve discovered Lille’s fabulous cathedral, Grand Place square, watched French people play chess in the historic Vielle Bourse, eaten something that looked like a cardboard square but somehow tasted delicious – and forced myself to embrace a little initial discomfort by actually sitting in a restaurant and enjoying dinner and wine as opposed to grabbing something I can wander the streets with. And then capped off the evening with a ‘Queen Victoria’ cocktail after wandering the cobbled streets of the old town.

I loved traveling solo for so many reasons

The second day I’ve spent running around the major sights (yes, I’m now one of ‘those’ people who runs AND enjoys it, thanks to Covid lockdowns). Ordered far too much cheese for lunch. Enjoyed a little siesta (as someone who regularly experiences insomnia, catching up on my sleep is part of any holiday). And then climbed 400 steps to the top of Lille’s Town Hall Belfry to enjoy panoramic views. In the evening I felt really tired. I could have stayed in my apartment, but I pushed myself to get out, and I’m so glad I did. Because I stumbled across a quaint little bar in the old town, where passion fruit martinis and croquettes aux crevettes were devoured whilst I spent a few hours reading a book and getting a little tipsy.

I loved traveling solo for so many reasons, but mostly it was that I got to do what I wanted. No compromising. If I didn’t fancy dressing up for dinner, or wanted a snack, mini fiesta, or just to stop and chill, there was no timeline. I wasn’t going to disappoint or frustrate myself, because I was doing exactly what I wanted to do. Although maybe it’s because this was my first solo trip, but I did feel it was a little more tiring than a usual holiday, because at every stage I pushed myself to do something I thought twice about. Stay in (comfortable) or go out? (slightly uncomfortable). So I headed out. Eat in a restaurant (a little scary) or grab something on the street? (easy-peasy). Dinner for one in La creperie it was.

It was quite interesting to discover that I didn’t get bored of my own company

Even heading back home, I wasn’t in desperate need for some social interaction. I just felt a little tired and a lot relaxed – same as any other trip. Yes, it’s a constant pushing outside of your comfort zone, but isn’t that what any adventure is all about? So if you’re considering a solo adventure, I’d say just go for it! The scary part is booking it, and then actually starting the journey the day it arrives feels a little worrisome. But when you’re there, it’s nothing but a big dose of self-confidence, mega load of pure empowerment, and all round fantastic self-love and confidence vibes.

It’s definitely a little individual self-care for the soul that I wish I’d taken the leap on a little sooner

Travelling solo is a wonderful experience, you feel in complete control and it really is liberating. So this certainly won’t be my last solo adventure. But I also think that this whole ‘dating myself‘ journey that I’ve been on now for the past 10 months isn’t something only for single people.

Because overcoming any kind of fear and the feeling of accomplishment in having tackled something scary solo, with also the satisfaction of knowing you can be totally reliant on having a good time with you alone, mixed in with the desire to show yourself a little self-care and treat yourself to some quality downtime with, well, you. It doesn’t matter whether you’re partnered up or single. Solo date nights / days / trips away, at home or abroad, these things are just damn good for the soul. They empower and they boost those self-love vibes. So if you’ve been considering doing something solo for a while, my advice? Just go for it.

Have you travelled solo? What did you think, I’d love to know!

By Amy Roullier
By Amy Roullier

Amy is the Founder and Editor of The Authentic Optimist. She talks all things life. From the highs to the lows, to all those messy bits in-between. She is a writer, rambler, lover of carbs (her true soulmate) and she is especially passionate about dispelling myths about women in their 30s. Amy lives in Lincolnshire with her two greyhounds.