With the internet awash with adverts for luxury spa breaks and romantic getaways, you could be forgiven for thinking that when it comes to travelling, two is the magic number. Traveling with family and friends can be incredibly rewarding, offering experiences and laughs that can bind us for a lifetime. So it might seem that going on vacation alone would be a less enriching experience; without our favorite people to share it with, how could it compare? However, we disagree. Here are some of the reasons we think that traveling alone is essential for everyone to at least try once.
You’ll Focus More on the Destination
When you’re on vacation alone, the lack of familiar people to interact with forces you to engage much more directly with your surroundings—on where you are rather than who you’re with. This is probably why many travelers report more vivid memories from solo trips; their attention is absolutely focused on their surroundings. Half the fun of travel is in the planning. No arguments, no compromises, no worrying about whether the food in India will upset your partner’s fragile constitution. Let your imagination run wild, think of all the places you’ve always dreamed of visiting, find an adventure tour and make it happen!
You’ll Meet More Locals
Unable to rely on your traveling partners to buy breakfast, use their better language skills to get things done, or distract you during a boring train ride, you’ll have to turn to the locals—whether you’re looking for human interaction or not. A solo traveler can also seem more approachable. If you’re with a partner or friend, it’s tempting to talk mostly with each other, and outsiders might not want to impose. But if you’re by yourself, it’s often easier for someone else to strike up a conversation with you. To really make the most of your trip away, learning a bit of the local language can really help you get to know the places you are visiting and the people who live there. Travelling alone means you’ll be much more likely to interact with the locals and pick up some language skills along the way.
Not Every Choice Has to Work Out
When traveling with others, we are often selective about suggesting activities that we hope everyone will enjoy and find a good use of precious vacation time. If one of these activities doesn’t work out, it can be a source of guilt and conflict. If you make the wrong choice on a solo trip, there’s no one to worry about other than yourself, and you won’t feel guilty for ruining someone else’s travel day.
You Can Change Plans on a Dime
When traveling in a group, changing plans can be rife with interpersonal, financial, and other concerns. When on a vacation alone, you can simply make a decision and move on. This can apply to decisions both small and large, from deciding where to eat to choosing whether to rent a car and leave town.
You Have Complete Financial Control
Want to blow a ton of money on a waterfront room? Go for it. Want to spend next to nothing on food? Fine. Want to go only to free museums, events, and attractions? Keep your money. As a solo traveler, you have the last (and only) word on every dollar you spend.
You Can Find Your Own Rhythm
Perhaps the most striking thing about traveling alone is that your schedule is entirely yours to decide. Our everyday lives can be a tyrannical grind of accommodating other people’s schedules, and this can easily carry over to leisure time as we try to pace our vacation days to adapt to the preferences of the group. Traveling alone, you can walk out of a movie you don’t like, stay for hours in a museum no one else you know would care about, ride an elevated subway to the last stop just for the sights, read a book in your hotel room, or whatever you can come up with that would seem a waste of time to almost anyone else. Following your own rhythm without compromise might not be possible in daily life, but it’s great, indulgent fun on a solo vacation.
You Can Learn More About Who You Are
When you venture out into the world on your own, you eventually need to face who you are, what you care about, and what you want to do with your time. Certainly the literature of our species bears this out, with a journey at the center of many of our greatest and most significant myths, novels, and memoirs. Traveling with others you will find great friendship, diversion, and fun—but traveling alone you might find yourself. You’re bound to make lots of friends along the way, but when you want to be alone, you can be. This gives you a rare opportunity to take stock of your life and think about what you want your future to hold.
Travelling solo often increases your self-confidence
Travelling alone means you’ll have to make your own decisions, helping you become more confident, assertive and decisive as a result. There’s nothing like over coming some obstacles and knowing you did it without leaning on someone else to make you feel stronger.
One thing you can be certain of is that by the end of your travels you’ll know yourself much better than you did at the start – hopefully that will be a good thing. You’ll have a clearer view of what you enjoy and what you prefer to avoid, from your own first-hand experience, uninfluenced by what someone else felt.
If traveling makes you a better, smarter person, then traveling alone makes you super-better and super-smarter. For any of you who may feel uncomfortable even sitting alone at a diner to have breakfast, taking a trip by yourself might seem daunting. Once you take the plunge and get over your fears, you’ll feel a sense of empowerment. A successful solo vacation can inspire you to tackle even more things in life you’ve been afraid to try.
Be Uncomfortable and Then Get Comfortable Again
Stretching boundaries by traveling solo can be uncomfortable at first but give yourself a bit of time, hang in there, and your comfort zone will expand. As a result, in your life at home as well as traveling, you will be more comfortable in more situations. Solo travel is an opportunity for transformative travel. Being alone, you can let your mind wander and watch where it goes. You’ll learn a lot about yourself doing so and be able to make and practice changes that you may bring home. As you negotiate and navigate every aspect of your trip you will discover just how capable you are. That inevitably results in great self-confidence.