When traveling, it’s often the case that you first think about who you’re going to travel with. But sometimes, it’s not always fun and games when going with someone else.
Heading off into unexplored lands sans friends or family can help you embrace the prospect of solo travel and all the benefits that come with it! Now, what are the benefits you ask? While intimidating, solo travel is nothing to fear, and it’s not something that makes you unusual if you prefer it. An increasing number of people are realizing the benefits of solo travel and below are five reasons why you should too:
1. It Increases Your Confidence
It may come as no surprise, but when you travel by yourself, you improve your confidence. You prove to yourself that you’re capable of facing unknown challenges head on and alone. It’s not until you force yourself to into it that you realise the initial intimidation is all mental. Many people experience this, but most of us are also stronger than we give ourselves credit for.
For example, my first solo travel trip was to Iceland. I was en-route to Prague were I was going to live for a year, and decided to do a 5-day stopover in Reykjavik. When I arrived from JFK Airport, the town was in the middle of an Artic storm (strong winds, ice, freezing temps). Not only was the landing rough, once I gathered all my luggage — two oversize suitcases, a backpack, and two carry ons — I had to push it all almost a mile through a snowy field in the middle of the storm to get to my shuttle.
Everyone was so focused on their own tasks and responsibilities that no one offered help. Furthermore the driver of the shuttle was in no mood to be bothered. One broken suitcase wheel and a handful of curse words later, I was safely inside of the shuttle and on my way to somewhere (I was dropped off at the wrong hotel but that’s another story for another time) 🙂
2. There’s Nothing Strange About It
It might seem strange to travel by yourself at first, but solo travel among both males and females is very common. Many people prefer to travel this way due to the benefits that are discussing here. But the most important point to make is that it’s not strange or “taboo”. You can set and follow your own schedule, visit the sites you choose, eat the food you want to eat, and spend as little (or as much) money as you like without consulting with fellow travelers. And the best part? You are certain to meet other solo travelers in the town or city you’re visiting.
3.One Word: Freedom!
As mentioned in the previous point, you will have much more freedom to make your own decisions and go your own way when traveling solo. You can make last minute changes to your schedule, take your time eating a meal, or even spend a day doing nothing. Having a flexible schedule is not a luxury that you get to enjoy when traveling with other people since you then have to take their wants and needs into account, too.
My second solo trip was to Berlin, Germany. It was my first time in Germany and I honestly did very little planning since the trip was for my first Czech Visa interview. My plan was to grab coffee in the morning, head to the Czech Embassy for my interview, and fit in a quick walk down the Berlin Wall if time permitted. Due to a mix up at the Embassy, I had to stay an additional day, which meant more time to explore! Since I was solo, I had unlimited free time, and was able to fit in all the sights on my impromptu itinerary. This included pastries from Alpenstueck Backerei, a photoshoot in front of the Brandenburg Gate, and a long stroll around the shops at Alexanderplatz.
4. It’ll be Your Perfect Trip, Not Someone Else’s
The “planning” part of your trip will be much more enjoyable if you’re only planning it for yourself. It’s more difficult to plan a holiday when multiple travelers are involved since you have to take their interests and needs into account. Instead, both the planning and the journey will be yours to experience and enjoy. When spending money on a holiday, we all have our own wants and needs regarding our travel plans, so why not focus on them?
While I usually love traveling with friends and family, everyone has different needs and interests, which is perfectly fine! However, this component makes having the experiences that you want more challenging. Some people love hiking (not me), while other people enjoy solely spending time on a beach with their bum in a lawn chair (lovely, but not me either). I like a mix of adventure and relaxation, which isn’t always a great fit for some other’s travel styles. When I’m solo, I only worry about ensuring I have a good time.
5. You’ll Meet Other Solo Travelers
It’s important to note that traveling solo doesn’t mean that you’re going to be alone during your entire holiday. You’ll meet so many great people along the way and you’ll have a better chance of making new friends than if you were traveling alongside people you already know. You can find plenty of opportunities to be social during solo travel, especially if you book a pub crawl, a free walking tour, or another group tour that allows you to interact with other participants.
During a trip to Milan, Italy I met and befriended my now friend Anthony during dinner at the Ostello Bello Grande Hostel. Anthony serves in the U.S. Army stationed in Bavaria and was in Milan solo for the Thanksgiving holiday. We struck up a conversation and discovered that I lived on the same street as his mother when I lived in Virginia, and we shared a bottle of wine. Since then, Anthony and his friends visited me in Prague twice, and we speak regularly. You never know what friendships solo travel will bring your way!
So, if you’ve been thinking about traveling by yourself but have been putting it off because you weren’t sure about it, hopefully the points raised above will encourage you take the plunge. Who knows, putting yourself out there and traveling by yourself might be one of the best gifts you ever give to yourself.
Have you travelled solo before? Do you prefer to travel alone or with others? Share your best stories with me in the comments below!