TravelBeing Single

5 Surprising Things Solo Travel Has Taught Me About My Single Self

I am a subscriber to the personal belief that international travel is best done alone.  You can make your own itinerary, decide where you are most comfortable staying, and spend exactly how much money and time you want on activities. In other words, you don’t have to wait around at the Louvre while your travel partner spends hours upon hours looking at every. single. friggin. painting.  (Or, if that’s your style, you don’t have to be rushed through the museum on anybody else’s timeline).

I recently went to the Maldives for the first time and was nervous about traveling on my own to a country with such a romantic reputation.  Thinking of the Maldives conjures images of laughing couples sipping mai tais in private bungalows suspended above the water.  I began to get self-conscious, even scared, at the thought of going to the Maldives all by my lonesome.  I imagined myself sitting on the beach alone, surrounded by couples making out and whispering sweet nothings as the sun sunk below the horizon.  I braced myself for the possibility of feeling lonelier than ever, surrounded on all sides by starry-eyed romantics.

Luckily, my experience was quite the opposite.  I was duped, not just by targeted marketing by the Maldives to attract rich heterosexual couples, but also by my own insecurities about being single.  Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned about myself, and being single, by daring to travel to faraway lands unattended:

1. Calling your own shots is badass. Making your own plans and choosing how to spend your money is powerful AF, whether at home or abroad.  You don’t have to compromise your interests or values to maintain somebody else’s budget or comfort.  You get to choose exactly where you want to go, when, and for how long.  No compromising required.

2. Flying solo makes you more likely to meet people. During my trip, I met many couples who were perfectly friendly, but tended to keep more to themselves.  Being alone, however, gave me the opportunity to meet people from different countries and diverse backgrounds.  And because we were all traveling alone, we were more likely to interact with each other, explore the island, and spend time with local Maldivians than those who were traveling in pairs.  Which brings me to my next point…

3. When you’re single, you’re more open to possibilities. By meeting lots of people from various backgrounds, I had more opportunities to have amazing, one-of-a-kind experiences.  As predicted, I did sit alone on the beach watching the sunset. However, I was only alone for five minutes before I was joined by a Brit and some Maldivian locals singing and playing the guitar as the sun went down.  Experiences like that cannot be scripted and cannot be paid for through a travel agency – they only happen when you are open and available to new people and new experiences.

4. There are still tons of fun, single, attractive people in the world who want to meet you. Contrary to what your dating apps may indicate, the pickin’s ain’t slim!  There are plenty of high-quality, unattached people in the world, you just have to bust out of your own little bubble to find them.  As you travel the world and sign up for activities that are attractive to you, you will find where they’ve all been hiding!  I can’t promise that you will be swept off your feet by a hot Italian on a Vespa, but I can promise you that it will at least renew your faith in the quality of fish in the sea.

5. You have the luxury of connecting to yourself. Many couples travel with the intention of connecting with each other and re-igniting the spark.  You have that same opportunity, but in reconnecting with yourself.  Traveling alone gives you space from normal stressors (people included) to do some major soul searching.  It’s not uncommon for me to come back from a trip with a new outlook on life and a new set of priorities to match.

We live in a society that prizes romantic relationships and frowns upon living unattached.  While initially terrifying, traveling alone is the perfect way to call bullshit on the antiquated belief that you are not valuable until a romantic partner says so.  So book that ticket, board that plane, and get ready for your world to open.

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Traveler. Writer. Physical Therapist. Depression Survivor. Follow Julia on Instagram or read more articles from Julia on Thought Catalog.