Even though traveling solo is such a valuable experience, many people are afraid of it. Since finding a suitable travel companion is not always easy or possible, they end up staying home or hit the road with the wrong people. That’s why here’s a list of 9 advantages of traveling solo – to prove it’s not only doable but also great.
You can do and see whatever you want
Nobody tells you where to go. Only you decide what’s going to be your next destination, where you’ll eat this afternoon and whether you’ll go to sleep early or party all night long. Nobody will push you to go sight-seeing when all you want to do is stay in, watch a movie and eat pizza. Nobody will be convincing you to go to the beach if you want to climb a mountain. Nobody will tell you to go home while you’re having a great time in a bar. No need for compromises, fights, and long, exhausting discussions.
You find out things about yourself you never thought were there
As philosophical as it sounds, it’s true. When you travel alone, you pay much more attention to yourself than normally. You can observe yourself in a variety of situations; check how you deal with things and people. New experiences and contacts, new interests and skills, you gain all that. There’s time to discover what you truly like and dislike. Whatever happens, there’s only one person you’ll spend the rest of your life with you. Each day, hour, second of this life: you. That’s the person worth getting to know, so use the chance and do it.
More confidence and independence
Travelling is always connected with making lots of decisions. This flight or another? Hostel or Couchsurfing? Mexico or Argentina? It’s all up to you. There’s always lots of alternative turns on the road and you’ve got to choose, so learning how to make decisions comes in the package with traveling. Since many people struggle with the lack of decisiveness, it’s a great skill to develop. First, you make the choices and then discover it brings lots of extra self-confidence. You’re able to make them. You’re also able to deal with various problems, big or small. You miss a bus, but then quickly find a train connection to the same place, no drama involved – bravo. You get to the other side of the world all by yourself – bravo again! You become the person you can count on, even if there’s nobody else to provide support.
Bye, bye insecurities, bye, bye fears
Once confidence and independence arrive, insecurities and fears leave. Actually, they get brutally beaten up and kicked out of the place. When you start doing things you were afraid of, it usually turns out they weren’t so scary in the first place. If you were afraid of walking around your neighborhood in the evening, as soon as you leave this neighborhood, you realize you’re quite fine with exploring foreign cities on your own, even if it includes some night walks. If you were a bit shy and talking to strangers wasn’t the easiest thing, after meeting a couple of backpackers you start feeling more comfortable with new people and realize approaching someone isn’t such a big deal. Traveling means moving forward not only literally, but also metaphorically. Each time you cross a border, a part of what you thought was you stays behind: an old anxiety, a self-doubt, a piece of guilt or timidity that used to be overwhelming.
So you reached a nice town and plan to spend their only one day, but you feel so exhausted going out doesn’t sound appealing? Nobody will judge if you stay in the hotel and just read a book. Did you say something silly in front of a group of people? You can forget it easily and there’s no one to remind you of the humiliation weeks later. You can eat as much as you want with nobody starring at you as if you just turned into a bear, you can dance like crazy till the morning and no one will say you’ve taken it too far or, even if they do, who cares? You don’t have to see them again! Sure, it’d be great to always have such an attitude, but it’s just way easier to maintain while traveling. Practice the “not caring about judgments” way of thinking during the trip and then it’ll become easier at home too.
Time for meditation, reflection, and philosophy in general
Whenever you feel like to, you can just spend time alone. You may think of some problems that have been bothering you and look for solutions, meditate in order to stop thinking at all, reflect on the past or decide what to do with the future analyze your relationships or just enjoy the moment in solitude. You can sit on a beach all day just writing a diary. There’s finally time to be with yourself only. And, in case you feel like to consult some philosophical issues, it’s often easier with strangers than old friends or family. They can offer a whole new insight and open your eyes to different ideas. Besides, you don’t have to worry this guy you’re talking with in a pub about your ex-wife knows her. Or that this lady you’ve just confessed something shameful to is a friend of your parents. Share your stories with people and listen to theirs, it’s a wonderful experience.
It’s often cheaper
Well, that depends, but many people have a tendency to spend more when they’re in a company: they go out, drink and dine out more frequently. When you travel alone, temptations don’t appear so often, so it’s easier to keep the budget low. Finding cheap accommodation can also be simpler when there’s only one person. Couch surfers are often able to host one traveler at a time, various hospitality exchange programs do the same. In touristy places, hostels tend to be overbooked, but there’s usually one bed somewhere in a dorm.
Better alone than with the wrong people
Since lots of people fear traveling alone, they look for a company at all costs. That’s just bad! If there’s a person you really, truly, absolutely want to travel with, perfect. Go together, enjoy and let the friendship or love grow. But in case there isn’t anyone you want to travel with in particular, better go alone, especially if it’s about long-term journeys. A week is fine, even two, but spending many weeks or months with someone you don’t get along with is just terrible. Sometimes even the best friends turn out to be bad travel mates. It’s not enough that you love them. Traveling is different than going out for a beer or playing computer games. It’s also different than long discussions in the comfort of your friend’s kitchen or living together. You might be perfect flatmates or adorable group of colleagues, but it doesn’t mean you’ll make a good traveling team. So don’t push it. Even if there’s nobody, there’s always you – and you is enough to begin a journey.
Solo doesn’t mean lonely
You may step the door of your house by yourself, you may reach the bus station on your own, but once the journey begins, you won’t be alone anymore. As a solo traveler, you’ll meet lots of people all the time. You’ll be more open towards them and they’ll be more open towards you. It’s not always the case, but quite often when people travel together, they tend to stick to the group. That’s not the risk for a solo traveler. At some point, you’ll seek a bit of company – and you’ll find it (unless, of course, you’re going to explore remote wilderness). You’ll meet lots of other travelers, you’ll talk with locals. Hostels are great places for socializing, you can also use some online communities for solo travelers and meet up with other members, you can just approach locals, talk to people on the streets etc. – the ways of finding company are endless. And, actually, you don’t have to look for it all the time, because people will approach you too. One of the most beautiful things about traveling solo is that whenever you want – you can be alone, whenever you want – you can also be with someone.
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