Traveling solo is a rewarding but tough endeavor. There may come a time in your life where you simply need to get away from it all and travel. This could be after completing your studies, after a breakup, or even before you know you’re about to start a long-term job. There are many reasons to travel the world and experience different cultures and languages, but sometimes, you’ll end up having to do so on your own.
It’s true that it’s perhaps not for everyone, but it’s still life-changing and can tell you more about yourself than you might think. Solo traveling might be exactly what you need to get to know yourself better.
It could make you see not just the world differently, but your own abilities and perceptions. Everyone’s experience will be different, of course, but if you travel solo – locally or internationally – you’ve already made a strong first step in putting yourself to the test.
To help you wrap your head around the notion of traveling solo, we’ll look at some pros and cons so that you can decide if it’s for you. Consider both very carefully and hopefully, these will help you out in your own adventures.
The positives of traveling solo
When you travel solo, you have no obligations to anyone else. You can visit the places you want to, create your own schedule, and be as lazy or energetic as you see fit. You don’t have to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower just because that’s what everyone else does, nor do you have to seek out the best cuisine… go ahead and get some McDonald’s if you want.
Traveling in a big group is often difficult because everyone wants different things, but when you’re solo? You don’t have to check with anyone about anything. It’s usually easier to hang out with locals and meet new people, and there’s even Couchsurfing if you’re stuck and need a place to stay.
Traveling solo really helps build your confidence, independence, and decision-making skills.
If you’re someone who prefers for others to make the tough decisions and finds talking to strangers difficult, then this will force you to come out of your shell. It’s up to you to get to your flight or train on time, to find your accommodation, and to have conversations with other travelers in a hostel, for example.
Because there’s no one to hold your hand, you learn new skills and do things you didn’t know you were capable of! This will build your confidence and fly in the face of all the people who said traveling alone would be a bad idea.
When all is said and done, the best thing about solo travel has got to be the sheer amount of destinations you can pick from. Europe, in particular, is incredibly diverse and you could spend months visiting different cities. Some people might hate the idea of London in winter, but you don’t mind a bit of rain.
Others may dislike Paris because they’re worried about the language, but you took French in school, so you’ll be fine. Choosing a European city to travel to can be done really quickly when you only have to consult yourself!
It doesn’t happen so often, but sometimes airlines will bump you up to a better class if they have one spare seat and can see you’re traveling alone! It’s usually a shot in the dark, but it has been known to happen. A 7-hour flight in first class doesn’t sound so bad!
The negatives of traveling on your own
Well, there’s no way around it: traveling solo can sometimes be lonely.
Whether it’s experiencing a beautiful sunset or passing the time while waiting for a train, there are times when you’d love to have some company to share the moments with. You’ll often meet new people in hostels, but it’s impossible to know if you’ll get along with them like your best friends back home.
You also might feel a little unsafe if traveling solo in a new city full of strangers.
There’s no denying that it’s comforting to have someone you know next to you if you’re walking around an area that looks less than inviting. If you’re a female solo traveler especially, it’s best to take special measures in order to feel safer in a new place. You definitely don’t want to look vulnerable when you’re unfamiliar with your surroundings.
To be honest, sometimes other people do have really good ideas. Unless you’ve properly researched your destination, you could be missing out on some great tourist attractions simply because you’re someone who hates reading guide books and travel blogs!
Traveling on your own has numerous plusses and minuses, but it’s still something that everyone should try at least once. It could be immediately clear that it’s just not for you and that you really want someone else to share the adventure with.
Maybe you’ll learn that you only want to travel with a partner, friend, or in a bigger group in the future. Conversely, you might find that traveling on your own helps clear your mind and gives you the getaway you needed.
One of the best reasons for taking a solo trip is to prove everyone wrong who ever doubted you. If you said to your family and friends that you’re taking a trip around the world on your own, you might have had a lot of negative reactions! Either they think it’s too dangerous, you can’t handle it, you’ll get lost, etc.
Of course, they’re probably just worried for you (and might miss you when you’re away), but when you come back from your trip as a changed, improved person, it verifies to everyone that you’re okay with going to new places by yourself.
No matter where you are in the world, a solo vacation is a rich and fun endeavor that you’ll never forget. The life lessons you’ll absorb – good or bad – will stay with you forever and you’ll be a better person for it. Even if you’re scared and a bit nervous of the unknown, some things in life just have to be done the hard way.
You won’t know until you try, so just take the plunge and see how you like it!
If all that wasn’t enough, consider this beautiful quote from Riitta Klint:
“Becoming free is learning about yourself; the scared and the insecure, the brilliant and the bold. Embrace both and the journey is yours and yours alone. No longer are you following another’s directions and your path and purpose will present themselves. Only then might you find another wandering soul doing the same thing, who can walk with you but on their own journey. All of a sudden you might find a shared passion and a wrinkled map on the trail that makes sense.”
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