It’s been a while since I’ve travelled alone, and recently I’ve had a bit of a craving to take a little solo trip. I don’t know where to or when, but the idea is in my mind and hopefully I’ll be able to make a plan soon!
Travelling with friends and family is great; it definitely has a lot of advantages. It’s easier, oftentimes more fun, and considerably less scary than doing it all by yourself. That doesn’t mean, though, that it’s a bad idea to go it alone! In fact, travelling alone has a whole set of different benefits, no matter your reason for doing it.
1.You have total freedom. One of the main reasons to travel by yourself is that you can do exactly what you want, when you want. It doesn’t matter if you just want to take a few days to chill out and not do anything in particular, or if you’re planning to take a year-long trip to explore the whole world. When you’re on your own, you don’t have to worry about compromising for other people and making sure everyone is having a good time. Wanna spend 5 hours people watching in an outdoor cafe? You do that. Hit up every tourist spot in a single day? Go for it. Spontaneously go to a different country? Why not?
2. You’ll learn. Another great thing about solo travel is that you will get to really experience and learn about where you are. When you travel in a group, you might be tempted to stick to what’s familiar and rely on the people you know to guide you, but when you don’t know anyone, you are forced to interact with the people around you. This means you will have more reason to talk to local people and might find some secret places that tourists don’t generally know about.
3. You will have time to reflect. You won’t only learn more about the places you are travelling to. Being alone in an unfamiliar place gives you the time and space to learn more about yourself, reflect on what you like and don’t like, and the new experiences give you some ideas of what you want to do in your life. Everyone needs some head space sometimes, and even if you aren’t travelling for a long period of time or looking to ‘find yourself,’ taking a break from your everyday life to clear your head means you will come back refreshed, relaxed and inspired.
4. You will gain confidence. This is especially true if you are in your 20s or if you are travelling alone for the first time. Honestly, it’s not always easy and can be kind of scary, especially if you’re going somewhere you’re not familiar with or you don’t speak the language, but when it comes to travelling, scary is good. (Not always, obviously. Don’t go anywhere where you’re likely to die.) Speaking from experience, though, a lot of the perceived risks of travelling aren’t really anything to worry about. Many, many people were worried about something happening to me when I first travelled to Mexico – I’ve lived here for a total of 2.5 years now, and I’m yet to run into any trouble.
5. You can get away from technology. I’m sure you can also do this if you travel with other people, but being totally cut off from your normal life, including being away from emails, Facebook, Twitter etc. and not feeling the need to Instagram each moment you’re living is another way to take stress out of a holiday. When you break away from our current culture of oversharing, “pics or it didn’t happen” and desperate need for validation, you can learn how to actually enjoy yourself and what you truly like, rather than focusing on what you want to look impressive on Instagram.
6. You will appreciate home comforts. Sometimes, being away from everything that is familiar, including the people you share your life with, shows you what you take for granted. You might be surprised by the things you miss, and you will appreciate them more when you go home. This is important, especially when it comes to friends, family, and other people who you don’t realise do so much for you. Travelling alone will strengthen your relationships in unexpected ways.
7. It’s fun. You might be surprised at how much fun you can have all by yourself. Relating back to the first point of having total freedom, you can do everything that you want and nothing that you don’t. You might even meet some friendly local people who can show you the best spots in town to do the things you like. You don’t have to make conversation with anyone or “waste” a day doing something you don’t enjoy – all your time, money and energy is just for you. You don’t have to compromise. You will learn to enjoy your own company.
Travelling is one of the most eye-opening experiences we can have – even more so when we’re in it alone. Taking a solo trip allows you to really take in the culture of those around you, but also to get to know yourself. Any alone time is necessary for reflection and decompression, and spending that time in a new place has even more benefits. You don’t have to go far, even spending a couple of days in a nearby city will give you the chance to discover new places and interests.
I love travelling with friends and family, but the most life-changing experiences I have had have come from taking a leap of faith and going solo.
Let me know in a comment where your favourite places to travel are, and what has been your best solo travel experience?
Thanks for reading!