I constantly have friends and family tell me how brave I am for traveling solo. I don’t think about it as being brave anymore, it’s something that got easy overtime and had many challenges but more rewards. While I don’t consider myself a travel expert, I do consider myself a problem solving expert and this is the mentality I take with me everywhere, and it saves me unnecessary stress. While I have been to six countries all by myself, for my recent trip to Japan I traveled with a companion. We had the best time and made timeless memories. The travel chemistry was just right, but I wondered how a high-maintenance travel blogger and a first-time traveler could get along so well. I realized solo travel gave me a set of skills that made me into a better travel companion.
1. You know what to expect.
I’m talking about delayed flights, long lines at TSA, and wondering if you got on the right train. After traveling solo for three years to several destinations, I’ve experienced my share of scares. The first time I had a flight delay, I must have thought of about twenty worst case scenarios from there’s something wrong with the plane to I could lose my connection. After many, many, delayed flights I knew departing time is tentative, there are so many things out of anyone’s control, it might be sunny at your location but the weather in some other part of the globe could be affecting all flights. No two airports are the same, and each country has different passport control laws and protocols to follow, which can cause many headaches. This is key information to have when traveling with a companion, it prevents excessive freak-outs, and if your companion is not an experienced traveler you can save them some stress.
2. You’ve experience enough loneliness.
While there’s an expectation that travel should be perfect and you should just be as grateful as can be, it’s not always the case. Solo travel can be very lonely from time to time. Although there’s the prospect of making new friends and meeting new people, there were those moments I wished I had a companion to have dinner with, or laugh about how lost we were, or simply to have them take my picture without having to ask a stranger. Once I found myself with a travel companion I appreciated their companionship perhaps more than if I had never been on a solo trip. When you travel alone it creates memories that you will cherish forever and no one can take them away and this is valuable. It gives you time to get to know yourself in a deeper level, and the same can be said when you have a companion, it creates an everlasting bond, that place will always be your place and nothing can change it.
3. You find the balance in between dependent and independent.
When traveling solo you have to be independent, there’s no other way, and if you’re not life on the road will change that. When you travel with a companion you have to be independent in case something goes wrong, but there’s also a sense of shared responsibility. Perhaps you’re not the best with maps, but you’re good with accommodations and finding places to go. Traveling solo provides the skills for taking charge and being alert, and not dependent on the other person to do all the work and research, but travel companions allow for us to share the load and focus on enjoying the little things.
4. You are more respectful of your travel companion’s time.
While solo, I was the owner of my time, and I could have a plan or not have a plan. I always made sure to maintain sense of time and place as far as where things were located, hours, and which places or activities where non-negotiables. As much as you might want to see it all, it’s impossible and many things will be left undone (more of a reason to go back). After you travel solo, you’ll be aware your companion also has travel expectations similar to the ones you had on your first dream trip. You’ll be more flexible on a moment’s notice when a perfectly planned day doesn’t go according to plan.
5. You won’t be afraid to ask for help.
Humans can be stubborn by nature and we don’t want to admit we need help. On a solo trip you will have no choice but to ask for help when needed. It develops people skills because you have to be conscious about who to approach depending on the country, how to ask respectfully, and how to overcome language barriers. When traveling with a companion those skills are easily applied, not only will you be able to ask your companion for help, but you’ll be able to take the lead when it’s necessary to ask for it.