SoloSome people enjoy traveling for the leisurely lifestyle. Others enjoy the opportunities to try something new. And then there are those who travel as a way to renew and rediscover themselves.

For Barbara McNally, author of Unbridled: A Memoir and founder of the Mother, Lover, Fighter, Sage Foundation, that was her exact motivation when she set off to Ireland alone five years ago.

After a pivotal changing point in her life, McNally became inspired to explore her roots in Ireland. “I discovered things about myself I didn’t know, and I tasted a whole new culture,” she said. During this period of self-discovery and travel, McNally also learned about what it means to travel solo as a woman.

“The first thing it taught me was to have a good attitude,” she said. “If I think things will be fun, they’ll be fun, but remember that things will go awry.” Through that experience, she learned how to go with “the flow of life” and accept things that are out of her control—a valuable life lesson that she continues to apply to her life today.

“The second lesson is that the best way to exercise the brain is to learn,” McNally said. While she admitted that it’s definitely challenging to travel on your own, it’s important to do what you love and enjoy new experiences. “By following what I love, I was able to meet people who love what I do, too.” As a result, she often met people to hang out with during her trip to Ireland and subsequent travels.

When it came to trying new things, she emphasized the need to have an open mind and maintain your self-respect.

“Fear is our opponent and deserves to be respected … instead of being fearless, challenge yourself—but know your limits,” said McNally. “Travel should be fun, not damaging.”

Another tip she offered women is to find the balance between activities and relaxation—something travelers don’t often get to do when they’re with friends or family. For McNally, this meant spending plenty of time horseback riding and exploring various attractions in Ireland, while also setting aside time to write and reflect on her life and trip.

While a major concern for women traveling alone is safety, McNally said that Ireland (as well as other destinations she’s visited) have all been safe areas. However, she did add that it’s important to use common sense and trust your instinct when traveling solo. “If I don’t feel comfortable in a hotel, I’ll go to a different one,” she said. “If traveling alone, people are more protective of me than if I was with a man; they’re friendlier and it’s easier to get used to the culture.”

Additionally, McNally always makes sure that she gives her trip itinerary to family members and knows where the American embassy is located. When she doesn’t know where she will be staying ahead of time, she ensures that her phone works internationally so she can keep her family at home updated.

Although solo travel might not be for every woman, she said that it’s something you can build up to. “The first time is always the hardest. Then you realize it’s so much easier than coordinating with others.”

“When you take risks, your world can become bigger,” McNally said. You’ll gain more confidence in yourself and your ability to map the course of your trip and life.

And isn’t that what it’s all about?


About The Author

Monica Montesa is a writer at Scribewise. An explorer and foodie at heart, she loves traveling to new places and discovering exotic cultures and cuisines. Visit

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