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Solo travel isn’t just what you do when you have no one to travel with. There are so many advantages to travelling alone including the experiences you have and how it changes you.
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 believed the solo travel myth that it was a second-best option when my friends weren’t available. Flash forward five years and I’ve travelled solo in India, Mexico and South Africa out of choice. I’d never have believed it back then!
When I planned my first big, year-long adventure, it seemed daunting. 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?
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I needn’t 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. In this blog, I’m going to talk about the benefits of solo travel and what you’ll gain from the experience.
10 best things about solo travel
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?
What if you like to make the most of the day but your friend would rather enjoy a lie-in and maximise the nightlife?
What if you want to eat street food but your buddy only wants to eat at restaurants?
Whether you’re into adventure sports, urban and cosmopolitan cities or in fact, anything, you have complete control of your itinerary. For me, it’s one of the best advantages of travelling alone. 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. No waiting
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, another of the benefits of travelling alone is not waiting around.
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. One of the advantages of solo travel is that people are more likely to approach you 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 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. One of the best things about travelling alone is the 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 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.
A benefit of travelling alone is saving money where you’re happy to compromise and splurging on things that matter to you. With no judgement!
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 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 still my 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 may become a social butterfly on return or better yet, more secure and comfortable in yourself.
SO, whether it’s a weekend away or moving to the other side of the world, there are so many benefits to a solo trip. Get in touch if I can help or let me know your thoughts on travelling alone.
Solo travel essentials
- A handy bumbag to keep your belongings secure
- TSA approved combo lock for staying in hostels
- Metal straw and cloth bag set to reduce the use of plastic straws
- Travel luggage – I use the Mountain Warehouse Traveller Backpack (60L with 20L detachable backpack)
- A camera – I use the Sony DSC-HX350 Digital Compact Bridge Camera which I think is one of the most affordable options based on the zoom and quality of photos
- A GoPro if you’re into making videos – I use the HERO7 Black
- A tripod or mini GorillaPod to get yourself in the shot – I use the Manfrotto tripod and Joby GorillaPod.
Thanks for reading!
Check out my other solo blogs:
See you next time for more adventures,
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