“Aren’t you afraid?” “Don’t you get lonely?” These common questions are often the first you hear when someone finds out you’re about to go on a solo motorcycle journey. While my travels pale in comparison to many others, I have covered much of Canada and the US alone. I intend to do a lot more.
Carla King, whose story is included in my forthcoming book Women,Motorcycles and the Road to Empowerment, says “It’s important to know you can go out there in the world and this wonderful, fantastic stuff is going to happen to you.” She knows. She’s traveled solo all over the world, on often unreliable indigenous motorcycles, among them Urals, Guzzis, Chang Jiangs and Enfields. Her website is full of stories of her solo adventures and makes for fascinating reading. But be forewarned. It may spark an irreversible urge to try something on your own!
All this is not to say I don’t enjoy the company of others. Riding with one or two others can be most enjoyable. I even like riding as a passenger sometimes if it’s with the right person. But solo travels are in a category all to themselves.
Here are ten characteristics that make it so good for the soul.
- Independence. You are completely on your own schedule. You can go where you want, when you want. When you find a particularly appealing place and decide to stay an extra day, you can do so without messing up anyone else’s plans.
- Resourcefulness. You learn to be creative and find out how little you really need to get by.
- Confidence. This is huge! Things happen when you’re out there and you learn to manage on your own. You’re forced to call on your own strength and ingenuity to sort things out. It’s amazing what you learn about your capabilities.
- Approachability. People approach you more readily than they would if you were with even one other person. They’re fascinated, especially when they see a woman traveling alone. They are engaging and welcoming.
- Receptiveness. People are more receptive to you when you approach them. You meet the most amazing people.
- Preferred seating. Often when all seats are taken at a restaurant or show, there’s room for one more. Or they can squeeze you in somewhere. These seats are often offered at a reduced rate as well.
- Mechanical aptitude. You get to know a lot about your bike and understand it’s idiosyncrasies and needs. If something is going wrong, you can often pick up early warning signs. Also builds confidence.
- Serendipity. It happens when you’re out there with others, but never to the same extent. At least, not that you notice.
- Freedom. There is something so ultimately freeing when you’re out there crossing the country; something that you only feel when you’re alone.
- Connection with spirit. This goes beyond freedom. It’s a feeling of being alone and connected at the same time. It’s more than becoming one with your bike. Something else happens when you’re out there alone, moving through nature and you feel a profound interconnectedness with the universe.
If you’ve never tried solo travel, you owe it to yourself to do so. Start with small steps. Perhaps a half day ride. Yes it can be frightening and you may have to give yourself a pep talk before leaving. But once you’re out on the open road, all that falls away. The rewards are incredible.