If someone had told me a few months ago that I was going to go to a complete stranger’s country alone, I would have just swiped and said no way. Although I’ve been to 46 countries and hundreds of cities around the world in the last two decades, it’s never been the case that I’ve traveled somewhere alone. I’ve always managed to find someone who came with me, be it a family member, a friend or an acquaintance. Last time I found a very cheap flight ticket, but no one was free that weekend. I didn’t want to miss the chance, so I bought the ticket, stepped out of my comfort zone and traveled to Dublin alone. And in hindsight, how well I did. Although I’m not a typical solo traveler but bases on my experiences I’ve gathered 10 things, why you should not dismiss the idea of traveling alone.
There’s always an enthusiastic organizer in the group of friends who looks after things. She checks the prices of flights daily, conducts comparative research, where the accommodation is better and cheaper, plans what and where to look. She is the soul and engine of traveling, and she often raises the idea of travel as an opportunity. Now, on solo travel, there’s no such person, unless you’re the one who throws yourself into organizing with similar enthusiasm. Here, you have to book, check, look at and plan yourself, you are personally responsible for everything. If something goes wrong, you can only blame yourself.
2) You can be completely selfish
At first, this may not sound wrong, because the word selfish is not usually associated with a positive meaning but think about it. If you travel alone, you don’t have to adapt to anyone. If you’re tired after a long trip, you can do it to sleep until 10:00 a.m. rather than get up early for someone else. If you don’t want to see the 20th church because you don’t care, you don’t watch it. Or if you want to spend more time shooting/videoing in one place, there’s no one to blame for it, so let’s move on. Not to mention eating and drinking, which is my steed, because if I’m hungry, I can easily lose my temper. On a solo trip, you can do whatever you want, you’re your own man.
3) Meet new people
This possibility is not excluded even if you are on a group trip, but you tend to do things with your buddies. Having breakfast together, talking to each other, using the other’s language skills for, say, admission or directions, which results in less interaction with other people. A solo traveler is always a more “accessible” person than a company. I found this during my trip to Dublin that people were happy to talk to me, either during breakfast or at a museum, or asked me for help in taking a photo. Although I haven’t made lifelong friendships, you never know what’s going to happen from a random conversation later.
4) Improving language skills
Many of my friends say that they don’t travel because they can’t speak languages. Or they’ve learned a foreign language, but they haven’t used it in years and they’re afraid of talking. I understand that this gives birth to inhibitions and I speak easily, because I understand myself in four languages, but if we start from English, for example, no one speaks it at the mother tongue level in most places. Just because you’re expressing yourself incorrectly or you don’t know a word, no one’s going to take your neck.
In fact, in many places, e.g.: in some parts of Italy, people do not speak any foreign language at all other than Italian, yet they make themselves understand the tourists, even by using gestures. Of course, there are obviously places in the world where it is better to come with certain language skills, but most of the major cities in Europe are safe and can be explored with a basic foreign language vocabulary.
5) Optimizing costs
In many cases, single rooms are overpriced – let’s say there are alternative solutions, such as coachsurfing, or shared rooms – but the fact is that you don’t have to be math genuine to see that traveling alone is a more cost-effective way. On the one hand, full financial control is in your hands: you spend on what your wallet allows. On the other hand, you only have to buy one piece of everything: one dinner, one entrance ticket, one plane ticket. Plus, no one chases you into unexpected and unnecessary expenses, because those shoes, bags, clothes look so good, we should buy them, right?
6) Human dramas
In many cases, just as moving in together, a trip can be a watershed in a relationship. One spends half an hour in the bathroom in the morning, while the other just needs 5 minutes to get ready. Someone like to lie down on the beach all and read, while the other person would keep going and doing something. Are these situations familiar? Someone at home may be your best friend/girlfriend, but during a trip, you’ll find out things about her that you didn’t know before. A few days can be overdone by anyone on a journey, but in the longer-term differences – without empathy and patience – can lead to friction and conflict. I have seen more friendships going wrong because of things that came up on the trip. There are no human dramas on solo travel. You can only argue with yourself.
7) Just relax, no stress
This is partly related to the freedom in the second point, i.e. spending your time with whatever you want. But if you think about things a little deeper, traveling alone also means that you don’t have the burden on your shoulder to cheer somebody up. Who wasn’t in a situation where someone in the group was pulling their mouth off that she didn’t like the food she ordered? Or you had to complain at the front desk about a room that would have been good for you, but not the other one? Or the paid program was not a success for everyone, even though you thought it was great? In situations like this, you can have a kind of depressing feeling that someone in the group is not satisfied. And you’re trying to make a joke, or you’re hoping that the next day everything will be fine. Dealing with these situations consumes a lot of energy. And if you don’t manage to resolve and treat them reassuringly, it’ll even make you feel bad and compulsive to comply. Well, the good news is, when you’re on a solo trip, you don’t have that kind of stress or pressure. If something doesn’t go according to plan, you just have to take care of your own cheering up, not other people’s.
8) Leaving the comfort zone
Leaving the familiar and familiar terrain, I think, fills everyone with a sense of fear. We do not see and know the difficulties that await us in the new situation, how we can solve them, and this gives us anxiety. But if we successfully tackle the challenges, we will be satisfied with how good we have been and will be happy to tell others about our successes. The same thing happens with a trip: we can’t foresee what’s ahead of us, yet we look forward to it with confidence and anticipation, because it’s good to travel. If there’s anyone we can share this experience with, it’s more than great. But if we don’t, should we give up things that please you? In my case, to travel and live (why you can read about it here) is a 100% true saying. The idea of traveling alone was, at first, something outside my comfort zone. Even so, I went for it because I had more of a world to see than a fear of a new situation. Thanks to the new kind of travel experience, my comfort zone boundaries have broadened. What used to be alarming before not it isn’t, and next time I’ll be a lot braver to go on my own.
9) Boosting self-confidence
Leaving the comfort zone and successfully coping with a new situation is always positive feedback to ourselves, so well, I can do that, too. If you decide to travel solo, you can not only be patting you on the back, that you’ve been brave enough to go alone, but you’re also getting a lot of confidence. After all, by daring to travel somewhere on my own, you also show that, yes, I trust myself so much that I invent myself in any life situation and that I can make a decision that is best for me. Obviously, there are a lot of things in life that make you feel more confident, but after a solo trip, you feel like you can do anything.
10) Getting to know ourselves
Who doesn’t sometimes need a little me-time? When you’re just dealing with yourself and things that make you happy. Well, that’s what solo travel is all about. That we get out of everyday bounds when we have to meet our boss, couple, friends’ requirements. While traveling alone we can afford to do things without feeling guilty or looking at things that we care about. Many times, however, solo travel is not only about what we look at, but also what we feel, so it can also be described as a kind of inner journey. From this point of view, I recommend everyone to try it out once in their life, what it’s like to travel alone. To experience how to be friends with ourselves. To like the company of ourselves without feeling lonely. To clear our minds when we’re in a difficult life situation. Or to figure out what’s missing in our lives and start something new with confidence.