Ready to hit the road but don’t have a +1? Count yourself lucky, says Alison Turner, who quit her advertising job six years ago to hit the road with her dog, Max, and liked it so much she never stopped.
“When I started roaming the country, towing a teardrop trailer through the American Southwest, I didn’t even have an iPhone. I was just winging it with a foldout map.
All these years, winging it has remained my favorite part of traveling solo. I figure out my daily plan as I go, and I never, ever have to suffer through the ‘Where do you want to go? I don’t know, where do you want to go?’ conversation.
Each day is a surprise when no one is expecting you. One night, I pulled off at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, bought a $3 backcountry permit, and carried a tent a mile out into the dunes. I watched the stars come out—and keep coming out, well after I was sure there couldn’t possibly be any more—in hour after hour of absolute silence. Max and I were up before the sun to sit on top of a dune and watch the colors of the sand change with the sunrise.
It can be lonely at times, but when I’m up for company, I’ve found that making connections is simple. Lots of people on the road who follow each other on Instagram meet up: If I give a shout-out on where I’m going, for sure there will be someone nearby.
Photography has also helped me meet people. I’m surprised how open and intrepid I can be when I have my camera in hand. The camera has heightened my natural curiosity.
A solo trip may seem scary at first, but you’ll learn so much about yourself. You’ll have no one else to rely on, and daily problem solving will be up to you. A big plus is that being alone gives you the space to be creative—all great ideas come when you have downtime. By the time you get home, you’ll have the confidence to try anything.”
Follow Alison and Max’s adventures on Instagram @alisontravels or check out her portraits of people she’s met on the road (and more tips on solo travel) at alisonturnerphoto.com.