I love to travel the world and I love to do so alone. A lot of people think I’m crazy for traveling solo, especially as a female, and a lot of people at home who aren’t familiar with backpacking and solo travel think I’m literally alone for the duration of my trip. But let’s be clear- just because I choose to travel solo does not mean that I’m alone all the time. With solo travel, whether you’re alone or not is often your choice- you can choose to be with others or by yourself. I highly recommend solo travel to anyone and everyone, whether you’re 18 or 80, male or female, introvert or extrovert. Everyone should experience solo travel at least once in their life.
HERE ARE THE PERKS OF SOLO TRAVEL:
You have the ultimate freedom. No compromising here- you can do what you want, when you want on your agenda. It’s your trip and you probably worked very hard to save up the money to fund your travels, so you should be selfish about how you choose to spend your time. And you can be more spontaneous with plans when you don’t have someone else to think about.
You meet way more people. Lots of people travel alone and everyone who travels alone is more open to meeting new people because they have to. And the people you meet often make the place you’re in. A lot of the best people I’ve met have been people I met while traveling. But, if you’re traveling with a friend, it’s often easy to stick together and not be as social with new people and, therefore, miss out on one of the best parts of traveling.
You could wait around forever if you wait for a friend to travel with you. It’s difficult to find someone who is on the same page as you and will have the money and time to take off to go traveling.
Sometimes good friends at home don’t make good travel friends, so you may not come home as friends. Traveling is very different from being at home and inconveniences are common and some people don’t handle those well. And traveling with someone means you’re going to be together, more or less, 24/7 and that doesn’t always end well either.
You’re more observant of your surroundings. When you’re walking around with someone, you’re less observant of the the sights and smells and atmosphere around you because you’re at least somewhat engaged with the person (or people) you’re with.
You learn a lot about yourself. When you’re on your own, you have more time to reflect.
You gain an incredible amount of independence and self-confidence, which is invaluable, especially if you’re a woman. You also gain intelligence because you constantly have to think for yourself in new, foreign situations. You learn how to take control, make quick decisions, listen to your intuition and navigate foreign cities on your own.
THE THREE UGLY TRUTHS OF SOLO TRAVEL:
When you get really sick and bedridden while traveling, in some ways, being alone can be better because you don’t have to hold back your travel companion while you die in bed until you feel better. I’ve experienced being extremely sick while traveling with someone and also while traveling solo. Both situations suck, but I would prefer to suffer alone.
It’s much more difficult to get great pictures of yourself in all the beautiful places you visit. Clearly this is very much a First World problem. I used to dislike pictures of myself, but I had to make more of an effort to take pictures of myself for my blog and now I actually enjoy it and have fun with it. Even if you dislike pictures of yourself, I highly encourage you to take some anyway or you might regret it later on. Landscape and architectural pictures are great, but having a person in these pictures sometimes gives perspective to the size and it gives the picture some personality. You can use a selfie stick, a mini tripod or ask a stranger to take what will likely be a half-assed and disappointing picture of you (you’ll quickly learn that most people suck at taking photos).
Sometimes solo travel can get lonely. Sometimes you meet people, but you don’t connect with anyone and sometimes you don’t meet anyone at all. But the positive experiences always far outweigh the few negative and lonely experiences.
Regardless, solo travel isn’t nearly as scary as you think and it will make you a more independent, confident and stronger person. I promise.