Travelling alone isn’t just what you do when you have no one to travel with.
There are thousands of blogs proclaiming this and I know I’m not the first person to work it out but, for me, it really was a journey of self-discovery.
Before travelling solo I did think it was the second best option when my friends weren’t available.
When I planned my first big, year-long adventure, it seemed daunting. My 25th birthday was rolling round and I had the feeling, if not now, when? I quit my job to go but managed to recruit a few friends to come out and travel with me on sabbaticals or annual leave meaning the parts I’d be alone were shortened. I breathed a sigh of relief… I would have done it all alone if necessary because I really wanted to travel, but I was glad of the company.
For the parts of the trip my friends wouldn’t be with me, I had all the usual doubts and concerns first-time solo travellers tend to. What if I didn’t meet people? Would it always be safe? What if something went wrong?
I needent have worried. I almost always met people and if I didn’t, I savoured the time to myself. Any minimal issues I’d have to overcome taught me problem solving skills for life.
As you can tell, I loved it and I’m now a huge advocate of solo travel. Let’s see if I can recruit you with my 10 reasons to travel solo…
1. It’s your show
What if you want to get off grid and go somewhere remote but your partner would rather stay near amenities?
Or if you like to make the most of the day but your friend would rather enjoy a lie in and maximise the nightlife?
Whether you’re into adventure sports, urban and cosmopolitan cities or in fact, anything, it’s liberating knowing that you’re in complete control of your itinerary. I love to travel slowly and take time to blog, write and read. That’s not much fun for whoever I’m with but when I’m alone that doesn’t matter.
2. You’ll do all the things you want to do
In the past I’ve wanted to do things and then not done them because no one would come with me. Whether it’s as small as going to a new coffee shop or as big as travelling to a new continent, nowadays I tick things off my bucket list that I might not have done before. Going solo means waving goodbye to months (if not years) of holding off in the hope someone will save up/quit their job and come too.
3. You’ll get better at travelling
The hurdles you overcome help you to do it better every ‘next time’. I know that when I’m with other people I have a habit of switching off organisation-wise, especially if they’re keen to take the lead. Doing it alone means you have to make the bookings, do the research and navigate yourself. This might seem stressful at first but after a while it becomes second nature. I reckon I’d be great in non-travel scenarios such as working in events or being a bridesmaid because I’ve booked so many hostels, researched a million and one routes and problem-solved in a crisis!
4. You meet more people
When you don’t have a friend to fall back on, you usually make more effort with the people around you. Plus, people are more likely to approach another solo traveller than somebody already surrounded by a big group. I find this applies to other backpackers as well as locals, and I can’t even count a number of times someone has seen me writing or having coffee and come over for a chat. If I’d been occupied with other people I doubt I’d have made half as many random travel companions.
5. You take in more
Alone I notice more details, take more photos, feel everything more deeply and take longer to wander.
I’ve had some of my most meaningful moments at museums or memorials where I was alone and I’ve taken some of my favourite photos in situations where I could take shot number 93 without really annoying my companion.
6. The ultimate ‘me time’
It’s not often in life you get this. So often social commitments and work fill up all your time. Travelling alone gives you time to focus on you – whether it’s reading, learning to blog, getting into photography or something else.
Taking a step back from your life also gives you a fresh sense of perspective. You get to reflect and see things as an outsider – maybe that soulless job never really was worth it, or you realise which friendships deserve to survive the distance. Whatever it is, ‘me time’ gives perspective to your goals and creates new viewpoints.
7. You can budget your way
It can be a tough travelling with someone whose budget doesn’t match yours. During many of my trips I’ve aimed to travel for long as possible even if it meant doing it on the cheap – but many people would rather take shorter, more luxurious trips.
We all have different priorities. I have friends who’d slum it on accommodation in order to afford activities, as well as friends who would compromise so they could have their own room.
Bottom line – we all place importance on different things. Travelling alone means you can save money where you’re happy to compromise and splurge on things that matter to you.
8. You realise how strong you are
There’s no better opportunity to discover how boss-like you can be than when you’re travelling alone. It makes me feel fearless and completely self-sufficient. Having to speak a new language while changing buses in the middle of hectic India whilst coordinating all your important possessions and trying not to get run over by a tuk tuk was never going to make you weaker or less competent, right?
9. There are no tensions – ever
I’ve been lucky enough to travel with A* buddies who are all still my closest friends today, but we all know what it’s like when two or more people want different things in any situation in life. When you travel with someone you eat, sleep and breathe the same air as them 24 hours a day, often when you’re tired, ill or out of your comfort zone. It’s inevitable wires may cross at one stage or another.
The way I see it, you’re unlikely to ever fight with yourself. For example, if doing something you enjoy holds you up or makes you late for or miss something else, another person might feel resentful but you’re unlikely to ever begrudge you.
10. You’ll blossom in confidence
Have you ever met someone who’s got back from a solo trip less confident? I haven’t. You’ll make conversation with million and one people of different ages, ethnicities and backgrounds, end up in random situations and try your hand at new activities, languages, and cuisines. You’ll be a social butterfly on return!
SO, whether it’s a weekend away or moving to the other side of the world, chances are you’ll love your solo travel experience. Get in touch if I can help or let me know your thoughts on travelling alone.
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See you next time for more adventures,