I didn’t travel by myself until I was 28. It’s not that I never wanted to, though I must admit, I was scared. I was also one of those people that always had excuses as to why I “couldn’t” – work, boyfriend, money, prior commitments, etc., etc. – basically, life! Then when my longterm boyfriend became my ex, I wasn’t going to pass up the European backpacking trip we had been planning together; I just decided to go it alone. It ended up being one of the best things I’ve ever done and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.
There are tons of reasons to travel solo, here are my top 5.
1. Complete freedom.
You know that feeling when your roommate is out of town and you can walk around naked with no cares? That’s kind of like how it feels to travel solo. You can do whatever you want when you want and there’s no one there to judge you. Don’t get me wrong, it’s also awesome to travel with people, but it can be tricky pleasing everyone. When you’re alone, there’s no arguing, no hard feelings, no waiting around for other people, and no feeling bad about other people waiting for you when you want to spend more time at that street market.
2. Getting to know yourself.
Traveling on your own is one of the best ways to grow and to learn about yourself. Yes, it will be hard. You will be faced with challenges, you will have moments of weakness, you might feel scared or lonely, but overcoming all of those things will leave you with such a better understanding of who you are and what you want from life. We don’t realize it but so many decisions we make on a day to day basis are influenced by others. It’s rare to have so much time to make choices that are only affecting you. Take advantage of this when traveling solo. With both good and bad experiences you’ll learn and you’ll grow. You’ll become a stronger person who knows that when it comes down to it, you can take care of yourself, defend yourself, and make decisions all on your own.
Solo travel allows you to reinvent yourself and to be the best version of you. No one you meet will have predetermined notions of you as an individual. Take this opportunity to push yourself and be the person you’ve always wanted to be. Take risks, talk to that cute guy at the bar you would never have the guts to talk to in “real life,” dance in the middle of the street festival just because, or try that bizarre food your friends might say is disgusting. The only one there to judge you is you, so you can be completely open to trying new things. Being alone, you also have the advantage of blending in more easily. Just look confident, act like you know what you’re doing, and you’ll be feeling like a local more than you ever would if you were in a group of people. Think about it, groups of tourists always stand out, but a solo traveler can blend right in.
4. Enriched experiences.
When you’re alone, you see and experience things in a different way than you do with others. You aren’t walking around chatting and so can take in all the sights, smells, and sounds in a thoughtful way. You can spend as much time wandering a museum, a temple or a market as you like. You aren’t influenced by your friends’ thoughts, your mind is free and you can take in everything on your own terms.
5. Instant camaraderie.
Still not convinced solo travel is right for you? Consider this, you actually meet more people when you’re alone than you do when you’re in a group. Traveling by yourself can get lonely sometimes, but fortunately there are plenty of other people traveling just like you who want to meet people just like you. If you’re staying at hostels, it’s pretty hard not to meet people. Other solo travelers will want to connect and groups of friends will more often than not openly welcome you into their group. There’s a certain automatic connection amongst travelers – you’ll make friends quicker than you ever have before, learning about each other in a short amount of time. You’ll go on adventures with them and make memories that will last a lifetime. Plus, you’ll gain a diverse group of traveler friends from all around the world who you can learn from and also perhaps stay with when you travel again!
I think everyone should try solo traveling at some point in their lives. It will force you out of your comfort zone and will allow you to see the world in a way nothing else will. Not to mention, you’ll feel really kick ass about yourself when it’s all said and done. Even if it was difficult, you’ll always know that you did it and you’ll always have the memories, the knowledge, and the friends you made along the way. Life only gets more complicated as you get older – don’t wait for the “perfect” moment, because there’s no such thing. You just have to jump in! No regrets, ladies.