Guest Post by Jess Signet. You can find out more about Jess and her travels on her travel blog and on her Facebook page.
Seven Reasons to Travel Solo
To start with, I want to thank Dan for allowing me to share this here. His site, as I’m sure you readers know, has a ton of great information for travelers planning a variety of trips—everything from how to narrow down places to visit for your RTW trip to important details that you maybe wouldn’t see featured on other travel sites, such as what to eat for breakfast to keep you going strong (which is doubly important when you’re on the road!). It’s a pleasure to be here and share my own experiences with you all.
Whether you’re on your own or with your friends or family, there’s no denying that traveling is a ton of fun. It can be a bit scary to decide to travel on your own though. You’ll have to handle all the logistics, and there will likely be some moments that you’re dying to share with someone, only to remember that you’re on your own.
But the thing is, the reasons most commonly holding people back—fear of strangers, potential loneliness, and things such as that—are easy enough to overcome. Believe it or not, the world is not a scary place full of people out to get you. In fact, a lot of solo travelers find that people are more open to helping someone when they know that person is traveling alone! A little caution goes a long way, of course, but fear and loneliness needn’t be the things stopping you.
Here are our top seven reasons for why you should travel on your own:
The most obvious benefit of traveling on your own is that you have the freedom to do whatever you want to do. Got a list of places on your bucket list? Start checking them off. Not interested in art museums or walking tours or whatever else it is that your friends are interested in? No problem. You can plan your itinerary however you want or be as spontaneous as you want to be. And if you want to take a night and just hang out around the hostel streaming Netflix, you can do that, no questions asked. Though due to Netflix’s geo-restrictions, if you’re traveling outside of your home country, you may need to set up a VPN on your computer first (otherwise you’ll find yourself faced with a frustrating error message). A VPN will hide your location from the local server and get you around the blockade.
When you’re traveling alone, you’ve also got freedom in your packing. You don’t have to worry about your friends seeing you in the same outfit every day; instead, you’re mostly dealing with strangers who will never see you again. You’d be surprised how far two changes of clothing will get you. Not that I’m recommending being smelly in a classy city, but you have some flexibility, and you can always wash things in the sink as needed!
This one is kind of related to freedom, but it bears mentioning on its own as well. Sometimes when you’re traveling with others, you might find that you don’t have the final say as to where you go to eat or what attractions you see or things such as that. Instead, they might be left up to the group to decide. You might find yourself sometimes paying more than you wanted for a meal or paying for an attraction that you didn’t even really care to see to start with. But if you’re traveling on your own, you can set the budget and plan your meals, attractions and activities accordingly.
I’m a firm believer that travel is a great way to evolve as a person. I’m not saying travel is necessarily going to make you a better person, but there are some challenges to traveling, and you’re going to have to learn how to keep your cool and do a little problem-solving. Travel solo often enough and you’ll get used to getting outside your comfort zone, navigating, keeping yourself occupied, and a bunch of other skills that are applicable to life beyond traveling as well.
Not only that, but there’s no one to talk you out of things. Curious about a strange local food that might or might not be a bad idea? Up to you whether you try it. Not sure whether you’ll find a hostel for the night or end up sleeping on a bench? Up to you whether you book accommodation ahead of time. You might do some stupid stuff, but hey, that’s how you learn.
Learning about Yourself
But traveling alone isn’t just about growing yourself; it’s also about getting to know yourself better. You’ll figure out things that you’re interested in—art or history or architecture or whatever else. You’ll figure out how you react in a variety of situations. You’ll figure out what’s important to you. And so much else. In fact, traveling solo might prompt you to change the course of your whole life. Even if you don’t decide to travel long-term, you might find that you take a renewed sense of self-confidence or a new set of habits or hobbies back home with you.
Meeting New People
It’s not always easy to meet people when you’re traveling, but you at least feel more of a push to put yourself out there and to get out of your comfort zone when you’re traveling alone. And beyond that, you’re often more approachable when you’re traveling by yourself. It’s definitely not impossible to meet people either. If you stay in hostels, take tours, go out in the evenings, and so on, you’re bound to meet people. And what’s more, if you’re meeting other travelers, you might only know them for a few days before you go your separate ways—meaning you can get all the best parts out of the relationships without getting annoyed by each other’s more frustrating quirks!
Traveling with Friends Has its Challenges
The thing about traveling with friends is that it’s often not all it’s cracked up to be. There are a bunch of different travel types out there, and just because you’re comfortable in your friendship back home, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be compatible travelers. Things that might seem like innocent habits back home might start to wear on you more when you’re subject to them every day.
What’s more, on the road, you often don’t have a way of escaping one another: if you’re sharing accommodation and taking the same transportation and seeing the same activities, then honestly, no matter how close you are, there’s the very real possibility that you’ll get sick of each other before the end of your trip.
You Only Need to Convince Yourself
One of the best things about traveling solo is that you can do it whenever you have the chance. Traveling with others can get difficult. You’ll have to synchronize your vacation time and plan what you’re going to do and where you’re going to go, and a lot of times, you’ll find that you can’t get the same amount of time off or that you can’t quite get your dates to line up. But if you’re going it alone, you can drop everything whenever it’s convenient for you and come back on your own schedule. And any last-minute jitters you have to deal with are wholly your own. (Well, and your mother’s.)
Don’t get me wrong, I love traveling with my friends, but that said, there’s also a great feeling of relief that comes with sometimes traveling on my own. Some of my best stories I have because I was traveling on my own and had to do all the problem-solving, or pushed myself further than I might have if my friends had been there to stop me. And it’s such a high to have a successful trip and know you did that all on your own. The blissful feeling of satisfaction definitely outweighs any of the hardships you encounter along the road. So what are you waiting for? With a little common sense, you’ll do fine!