If you’ve always dreamed of traveling but don’t have a travel partner, here are four reasons why traveling solo is awesome.
Humans are generally social beings, so the idea of traveling and experiencing the world alone might sound strange to some people. When I went on a spontaneous trip to Amsterdam by myself a couple years ago, I got questions from strangers ranging from “Why would you come here alone?” to “Is it scary not having anyone else traveling with you?”
My response? Well, I really wanted to go to Holland and none of my friends or family were available at the time. And no, even as a woman traveling alone, I wasn’t scared because it’s not difficult to take safety precautions while having the time of my life.
If you’ve ever dreamed of taking a solo vacation but the fear of loneliness or the stigma of traveling on your own has held you back, then read on to discover why traveling solo is actually pretty awesome.
You Can Do Whatever You Want, Whenever You Want
Sure, traveling with friends or family is fun because you all get to experience new things together and share the memories forever. But traveling alone means you don’t have to follow a group’s decision for tours, restaurants and accommodations, giving you ultimate flexibility and control over your plans.
For instance, when I traveled to Ireland by myself, I was feeling sick one day and stayed in my little B&B room from dawn until dusk. Instead of worrying about messing up other people’s plans or feeling compelled to go on an all-day tour while quietly suffering through bouts of nausea and headaches, I was perfectly happy staying inside for a day to recover.
Traveling alone … [gives] you ultimate flexibility and control over your plans.
What about you? Maybe you’re a budget traveler in a group of friends who are hankering to go on that $200 ziplining tour. Or maybe you have a strict food budget and your family wants to enjoy a five-star dinner at the best restaurant in the city.
Traveling alone removes the peer pressure factor and lets you do what you want, when you want — on a budget that’s perfectly suited to you!
You Can Meet New People
Although traveling in a group seems more social, you’re actually less likely to interact with strangers because you have all the company you need traveling alongside you. When you’re alone, however, you’ll be more inclined to go out and socialize with others at a restaurant, tour or bar.
Even if you’re an introvert like me, there are plenty of ways to meet people while traveling alone. When I went to Amsterdam, I spent the first whole day wandering around the city by myself. Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast exploring all the nooks and crannies in the city, but by nighttime I was tired of my antisocial wanderlust and went on a canal tour.
… Meeting new people from around the world will give you a greater appreciation for life and friendships …
At the end of the tour, I went out to dinner with a family of three and a fellow solo female traveler named Jessica and after dinner, Jessica recommended we check out a local event called the Fringe Festival. Although it was right down the street from my hostel, I would have had no inclination to go there if she hadn’t suggested it, and we had a blast drinking Heinekens and dancing to live music all night.
Sure, it isn’t always easy leaving your comfort zone, but meeting new people from around the world will give you a greater appreciation for life and friendships, as well as provide great company during your solo adventure.
You Can Learn to Be More Self-Reliant
Traveling alone requires a certain level of comfort with independence, which is easier said than done, but can be developed. When my suitcase handle snapped on my last day in Amsterdam, I initially panicked. My hostel had no elevator and my luggage was way too heavy to carry on my own. I also didn’t have enough cash left for a taxi, so walking to the train station was going to be more difficult than I had planned for.
But guess what? I survived the ordeal because I didn’t have a choice but to make it work somehow, so I got creative (and lucky). A guy who didn’t speak English saw me struggling down the narrow steps of the hostel stairway and motioned for me to let him carry my bag.
Traveling alone requires a certain level of comfort with independence, which is easier said than done, but can be developed.
I thanked him profusely in whichever way I could — danke, merci, gracias, dank u zeer — and once outside, I leaned over so I could drag the suitcase by the strap all the way from the hostel to Amsterdam Centraal. My heart was pounding and I was covered in sweat by the time I got there, but I had made it in time and that’s all that mattered.
As you can see, traveling alone isn’t always fun or easy, but you really learn how to depend on yourself — and have stories of your struggles that will later seem amusing in hindsight.
Written by Kelly Kehoe