We are all surrounded by people. We work with them, we socialize with them daily. We also need a break from them and travelling solo seems to be a perfect way to know yourself better, leave your comfort zone and go into the wild, get to know other people, hike, dance, learn to cook, smile, talk to strangers, eat new food and see the sunrise on the beach.
“I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.” – Oscar Wilde
Wise words. Being alone on the road gives you an opportunity to gain valuable experience about the world, people, food, foreign customs and traditions. You stop being ignorant and start appreciating things you might have never noticed. You open your heart. You become more of a listener than speaker.
Why should we all travel solo at least once a year?
Most of “steady Eddy” people can’t imagine themselves travelling on their own so they always take their friends with them, partners or join the organised group trips. Why? There are many reasons such as It’s scary! I don’t want to feel lonely! I need a buddy to have a beer with! Who would take pictures of me!? (that’s me). Nevertheless, travelling solo is getting more and more common as it can be a lot of fun and more unique experience for adventure hunters. Actually, the advantages of travelling solo are enormous.
#1 Learn more about yourself. Discover yourself
Once you set off on a solo journey to unknown place, you start getting to know yourself much better. You are on your own. You start listening to your heart and you are finally able to achieve some level of internal equilibrium and focus of mind. You start to discover yourself once again – things you are capable of, things you are afraid or scared of. You face your fears and you defeat them. There is no stress around and you feel alive.
#2 Make new friends & speak to strangers
When we travel with companions, we tend to stick to that group of people and even though we try our best to get to know new people, the dynamics and interactions will certainly not be as deep and fulfilling. I’ve noticed that when I am on my own on the road, I’m definitely more eager to chat with locals, meet travel buddies, team up with other travellers and generally reach out more in order to socialize. It seems so natural. Travelling solo definitely enables you to speak directly to some locals and stop being shy with people. In this way, you can make new friend and gain valuable insider knowledge about wherever you are.
#3 Experience new things
When you travel solo, people are more open and direct with you. Thus, you can experience more new things than you would when travelling with someone. People will invite you home and welcome you warmly in their place. They will share everything they have with you, sometimes giving you more than they possess. You will notice their smile and small gestures you often ignore when travelling with someone else by your side.
#4 Freedom. Peace. Flexibility
“It is better to travel alone than with a bad companion.”
When you travel on your own, you are definitely more flexible with time, next destination and decisions you make. You team up with travel buddies you like the most and end up expanding your travel plans. You are free to change your plans whenever you want to. You are free to sleep as long as you want to. You can hitchhike, hike, dance on the beach, change your destination at last minute without stress and compromises. When you travel, you are open to change and you will welcome it with open arms. No more fitting into a group’s agenda. No more explanations or disappointing anyone. You just follow rhythm, heart and mind.
#5 Loneliness? What’s that?
In fact, when travelling solo, you will never feel lonely. Once you get to any hostel or hotel and you will see plenty of solo travellers who are in the same boat. You all travel for the same reasons, you all miss home at some point and you all want to experience new things. It is incredible to see how much you have in common with people who you have not met before. You get to know each other, you make friends and keep in touch. We meet once again after some time in a different place and you all laugh at all of these awkward and unforgettable moments you shared together.
#6 Overcome your fears & challenge your insecurities
What does not kill you, makes you stronger and that’s so true. When you are left on your own, you start fighting for what really matters to you. You overcome the fear of heights, darkness, spiders or even new food. The more you travel, the less you fear. As long as you make regular solo trips, you will feel more confident each time, no matter what your fear is which is also a good excuse to travel regularly.
#7 Indulge in anything you want without being judged
Without a doubt, eating is one of the most enjoyable aspects of travel. Be it street food or in a restaurant. Once you start travelling solo, you also start appreciating food more and you will end up eating things that you would normally not eat at home. You become more adventurous with food. You can finally take in all the Thai pad thai, Italian pizza, Belgian macaroons and Chinese dumplings you find on your travels if you so desire without worrying about other people noticing!
#8 Save money
In most cases, you can find travelling solo cheaper than travelling with someone. Why? Nobody teases you with local delicacies so it is easier to resist the temptation and spend less money on food (my case). You are also more likely to buy less souvenirs and useless gadgets. More importantly, your travel companion might prefer more convenient and expensive way of travelling and it’s sometimes awkward to say “Sorry, it’s too expensive for me”.
#9 Gain confidence
When you travel solo you might face various problems, make decisions and even take some risk on your own. All these situations will, with no doubts, make you stronger, braver and much more confident though. Being alone on the road is a great challenge and as we know the challenges make us grow stronger and wiser not only as travellers but also as human-beings. When travelling on your own you can learn many skills such as time management and decision making.
#10 No drama
How many times did you argue with your travel buddies? How many times did you have to meet him/her half-way? If things do not go well, the entire trip can be a miserable, drama-filled time you’d love to forget. There is no drama when you travel on your own. No arguments. No fights.
To sum up, we should not be scared to set off for a solo journey! For some people it might be a tough decision and a weird feeling for the first days of solo expedition, but at the end of the day you will not regret it as it’s much more adventurous and challenging, it shapes your personality and gives you enormous possibilities to test yourself.