Having no one to travel with is one of the most frequently cited reasons that prevents people from going traveling. Solo travel almost isn’t even considered as an option due to worries about it being boring, lonely and unsafe.
And yet solo travel can actually be one of the most rewarding ways to travel. I have traveled both with friends and alone over the years but there are so many benefits of traveling alone that I now prefer it. So much so that I’ve been away for almost two years on my current travels, and aside from a few friends who have come to visit, I have done the whole thing solo. The benefits of traveling alone far out weigh the cons.
1. Complete and Utter Freedom
Solo travel gives you complete and utter freedom. When you travel with others you have to be considerate of what they might want to do at any point in time or where they want to go. But with solo travel you can literally do whatever the hell you want, whenever you want. There’s no debating “Well I really want to see x” and the other person going “Oh but that will mean we’ll miss y which I really want to see” and then having to work out how you’ll find a solution which is “ok” for both of you (notice I said “ok” for both of you. If it’s a true compromise it’s not likely to be great for either of you).
Imagine what it would be like for once in your life to be totally and utterly selfish without it being a bad thing? Imagine how good it would feel to just do whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it. That’s what solo travel gives you, every day.
2. You’ll Make More Friends
Most people don’t particularly enjoy having to put themselves out there and talk to strangers in order to make new friends. That means that if we don’t really need to do it a lot of the time we’ll choose to make our lives easier and just not bother. That is exactly what happens to most people when traveling with another person. The need to meet others just isn’t there so they don’t bother. I’ve been guilty of this countless times in the past. You already have your friend with you to sightsee or go to that bar with so unless someone happens to strike up a conversation with you, you don’t make an effort. And it’s such a shame. Just think of all the incredible people you might have met but didn’t because you stayed in your comfort zone.
I can guarantee I wouldn’t have met almost all of the amazing people that I’ve met on this trip if I were traveling with someone else. A lot of my favorite people in the world have been those I made an effort to start a conversation with or who I was more open to talking to because of the fact that I’m traveling solo.
3. There’s No Drama
Travel is a very personal thing and what any one person likes to do when traveling will be different from another. Unless you and your travel buddy match up perfectly in what you like to do while traveling it’s very likely it could lead to you falling out at some point in your trip. Even if you already spend a lot of time together at home and think your interests match up reasonably well nothing can prepare you for what it will be like traveling together. When you travel together you will be around each other 24/7. You’ll be sharing rooms together, sleeping next to each other on overnight bus rides, trekking up mountains together and working out how to find your accommodation when both sleep deprived and grumpy. Those conditions can cause a strain on even the closest of relationships.
4. You’ll Build Confidence Around Others
If you’re naturally a shy person the thought of solo travel can be terrifying but actually being shy is even more of a reason to travel solo. Travel is one of the best environments to work on aspects of your personality that you might like to change. If shyness has held you back before, traveling alone will be great for you. Almost anywhere you go when traveling, there will be at least some other solo travelers around which means you’re in an environment where everyone will naturally be more receptive to any conversations you start.
Plus since you’re traveling and therefore unlikely to see the people you meet again, unless you want to, the stakes are low. If you introduce yourself to someone and make a fool of yourself, it doesn’t matter. It’s not like they’re going to tell the whole of your office back home.
Solo travel can be used as a way to push yourself and build up confidence in talking to others by making yourself do it on a regular basis. You really do have nothing to lose.
5. You’ll Become Comfortable in Yourself
If you travel solo there will be some places where it’s harder to meet others or instances where you’re out and about and haven’t met any one yet so need to do things like have dinner on your own. The idea of this makes a lot of people very nervous, but it shouldn’t. There’s nothing scary about having dinner on your own or exploring a new town on your own. In fact it can be more fun sometimes. When exploring a town on your own it allows you just wonder with no purpose, get lost and discover it in a much more organic way since it doesn’t really matter where you are as long as you’re enjoying yourself. Having dinner on your own can be a lot of fun too. People watching can provide hours of entertainment, it can mean you pay more attention to what you’re eating and your surroundings or provide really good reading time. And doing it frequently means you will learn how to own it. You will learn how to be confident and comfortable in yourself whether you’re with others or not. You’ll learn how to walk into a restaurant without feeling any unease about being on your own. If fact, do it enough and you won’t even think about it as a thing any more, you’ll just be getting on with your life.
Travel in general is one of the most beneficial life experiences you can have but there are even more benefits if you decide to do it alone. So what are you waiting for? Stop using having no one to travel with as an excuse not to go and just start packing. You won’t regret it.