If you’ve been following along on my adventures on Something In Her Ramblings, it will come as no surprise to read that I am a huge fan of solo travel. Traveling alone has made me more confident and independent, and by taking the leap and traveling solo I’ve been able to see more of the world than I would have if I waited for a partner to join me.
From commiserating with a lovely British couple over the miseries of the island of Ischia in Italy, to experiencing the running of the bulls in Spain with a local family in Pamplona, some of the deepest friendships I’ve formed from my travels have been with people I’ve met while traveling solo.
It can be really daunting to embark on your first solo trip, and if you are like me, your first solo venture may have more downs than ups. This is completely natural. I believe that successful solo travel comes only after a breaking in period. During my first solo adventure – a three-week backpacking trip up the East Coast of Australia – I spend most of the journey feeling lonely and awkward. The beaches may have been some of the most scenic in the world, but at times I was so miserable I couldn’t see the beauty.
But, after I learned to be alone for long periods of time and be more outgoing to make friends on the road, I found my relationship with travel had transformed. Travel is now something I can find joy in alone. It is a great feeling to know that I don’t need to depend on anyone else to enjoy traveling!
I think everyone should take a solo trip, even if it’s just to a neighboring city, in their lifetime. Need some more convincing? Here’s five reasons to just go and travel solo!
5 Reasons to Travel Solo
1. You don’t have to wait for anyone to take your trip
The reason I took my first solo trip was simple – I couldn’t find anyone to go with me! Between lack of vacation days, family and school obligations and financial restraints, none of my family or friends had the same availability or budget to backpack with me up the East Coast of Australia. I was faced with the decision to travel alone or not travel at all.
While you may feel you will enjoy a trip more with a travel buddy, if you wait around to find someone who has your same desire, schedule and budget, you may never get to take a trip. Life goes by fast, so if you really want to go somewhere in the world and have saved up enough money to do so, go – even if it means going alone.
2. You can explore on your own time frame
While I was living in Europe teaching English in Madrid, I packed a lot of adventures into my three-day weekends. I like to move fast and generally, if I was only in a city two to three days, would wake up early, walk around and hit as many historical sites as possible, grab a quick dinner and then check out some bars to try to meet locals. I rarely stopped long for meals (if only there was a montage of the number of lunches I ate while walking from museum A to museum B), and didn’t sleep for too many hours.
Other times I would try to pack multiple cities (or countries) into my three day weekends, meaning I would take a lot of train connections and power walk to the points of interest during my few hours in a city.
This is the schedule that worked for me and made me feel happy. I really like to experience as much as possible when I am visiting somewhere new. Other people may find my non-stop itineraries exhausting and prefer to take things slow and see a few attractions more thoroughly. Others may have special interests (or tastes) and want to tailor their trips around these. If you are like my friend Paul, you will skip most historical sites completely and head straight for nearest place serving beer.
There is no right way to travel. By traveling alone you can be true to your own, uniquely wonderful travel style, and explore the world on your own time frame.
3. You’ll have time for deep reflection
One of the reasons I find solo travel so enjoyable is because it allows me to have time for deep reflection. When I travel (or even just in my everyday life in Costa Rica), my phone is in airplane mode so I can only use it when it is connected to Wifi. Being unplugged from technology and other people, allows me to disconnect and just think.
One of the greatest things about traveling is that it doesn’t mean we are reflecting in a vacuum of blank space. When we travel we are exposed to new sites, fragrances, tastes, languages and ideas. We bring what we know about life to the places we visit, but all the new information our senses consume can change the way we think about what we know, or what we think we know.
Climbing sea cliffs in Lagos, Portugal taught me we can never really know a landscape thoroughly and made me take a second look at the cliffs and landscapes of my childhood in California that I had long assumed I knew completely.
At Auschwitz Concentration Camp I was forcefully struck by the realization that, unlike the millions of women like me who perished there, my feet could take me away from this place of horror to where ever in the world I want to go and toward whatever dreams I wish to pursue.
I haven’t been the same person since setting foot in any of the places I’ve been too, and I have often found more meaning in places when I visit them alone. If I am traveling with a partner and talking the whole time I know I would not think deep enough to reach the same conclusions.
4. You will meet more people
What? You’ll meet more people when you travel solo? Yes. Even if you are an introvert, you will probably find you reach your threshold of silence while wandering around alone and find this forces you to talk to the people around you, even if this something you don’t normally do. Be it at your hostel, on the train, in restaurants, or in bars, when you travel alone, the people around you become something more than strangers – they become possible conversation partners.
I love traveling with friends and family, but when I travel with a partner or a group I find that I don’t talk to strangers as much as I am content in my bubble of companionship.
Traveling alone can also be a great conversation starter. Too many times to count I’ve been asked (usually by kind families) about the fact I am traveling alone and why I am doing this. with a confused manner. I’ve learned to not be offended by such questions, but use the ice breaker as a way to take the conversation to the next level.
The world is full of solo travelers, and I think the law of attraction has a way of bringing them together. I’ve had many wonderful walking tour, dinning and bar hopping experiences with fellow solo travelers looking to connect with someone.
5. You will feel more independent
I was so miserable during much of my solo trek through Australia that I often wondered if it was worth it. Yes. It is. Travel is always worth it.
Five years later I look back on my 21-year old self and I am so proud of her. I can forever say that when I was 21 I traveled by myself alone in a foreign country for three weeks. So far nothing I have accomplished since then has topped the pride I feel in myself for taking that first solo trip.
So what are you waiting for? If your travel dreams are about ready to make you burst at the seams, just go! I know it is scary to start out on your first solo trip, but you are going to look back and be so proud of yourself. Besides, I’ll bet you’ll not only learn more about yourself, but make at least a few new friends along the way.