Top 10: Reasons To Travel Solo

Updated: Apr 7

From the very cheap to the unbelievably expensive, the action-packed to the easy-going, the sightseers to the wanderlusters, there is no right or wrong way to travel. This life-changing experience means something different to each of us, and there are many different ways we can write our own travel stories. However, believe me when I say there’s something special that happens when you travel alone.



 

Had you asked me what I thought about the idea of solo travel prior to my 2015 adventures, you might’ve gotten a very different opinion. Before this year, you could barely find me eating at a fast-food restaurant on my own, let alone traveling across the Atlantic and through Europe with nothing but a backpack. After a string of school trips, weekend getaways and spring-break adventures, I thought I knew everything - I truly believed that the only fun way to travel was if I had at least a handful of good friends there with me and most every luxury from home available to me. Boy, was I ever wrong!

Though I was too stubborn to see it for myself at first, travelling alone through Europe is what finally broke me out of my comfort zone and set me up for an incredible experience like no other. I’d heard plenty of stories, some even first-hand, of people whose outlooks were completely changed by solo travel - while a certain level of comfort often had to be sacrificed, it was all made worth it by an unforgettable experience unlike any other. And while I may have scoffed at them originally, I now know exactly what they meant.

Check out my top ten reasons below for why you should make your next travel adventure a solo one!

1. Escape routine

Like I said, solo travel provides you with the perfect opportunity to escape your comfort zone, pursue new horizons and create an out-of-this-world experience for yourself. Most of us are perfectly satisfied with routine, including myself, but therein lies the problem. With nothing and no one to rely on except your own sense of wanderlust, the possibilities are truly endless - by throwing away the comforts of home and escaping the familiarity of friends and family, you’ll find yourself doing things and going places you may have only dreamt of (and some that you never would've thought of in your wildest imagination). Good things tend to happen when you least expect it, so why not throw caution to the wind and let the best of what our world has to offer open your eyes to something new and utterly transformative.

2. Make friends

No matter how shy or introverted you may think you are, nothing will help you break out of your shell quite like traveling alone and staying in hostels or participating in a group tour. Though activities like sightseeing are often far more effective on your own (something I believe for myself), you’ll come to realize that so many of the amazing things to do in some of the world’s greatest cities don’t involve tours, museums or attractions at all and are far more exciting when you have others to enjoy them with. By staying at a backpackers' hostel or signing up for a travel holiday (like those offered through Contiki or TopDeck), you'll start connecting with other travellers almost instantly. No matter where in the world they may come from, you’ll find plenty of like-minded people who share the same interests as you - whether that’s a pub crawl, club night, dinner at an authentic local restaurant or even just chilling out and playing games. Without your own posse of longtime friends to rely on, you’ll be forced to put in the effort with a new group of people and, sooner or later, you might find that these people are just lifelong friends in disguise.

3. Less drama

As young travellers, sometimes drama is inescapable (plenty of people still like to feel as though they’re stuck in high school), but nothing puts a damper on an otherwise amazing travel experience than the constant and often irreversible fighting that often follows close friends who decide to travel together. Just like good friends who decide to become roommates and find themselves in pure hell, long-term travel puts you in very close quarters for a significant period of time, meaning that conflict is always looming around the corner (even for the best of mates - I saw this happen first-hand on many instances while making my way through Europe). By traveling solo, you can keep your existing friendships intact and instead focus on building new ones with new and interesting people from around the world. And though I can’t promise you won’t find drama along the way, but I guarantee you won’t run into it often when traveling on your own.

4. Try new things

Often times, we share many of our inhibitions with our close friends (being afraid or uneasy in the face of similar things like heights is often something that keeps these friendships strong). But traveling is definitely not the time to shy away from new things! When you travel by yourself, the only voice you need to fight back against is the one inside your head telling you not to do something hair-raising like paragliding or not to try some local delicacy like escargot or frogs’ legs (two things I was terrified to try and never would’ve gone ahead with had I been back home, but now are two things I’m so happy that I took part in). Even if you’ve made new friends on your trip and none of them want to do something you have your sights set on, so what - this is your adventure and it’s up to you to make sure that it’s epic enough to be unforgettable!

5. Overcome obstacles

One of the most important benefits of solo travel is the incredibly valuable skillset you’ll gain from just the simple need of getting from place-to-place. Whether you plan to travel for a couple days, a couple weeks or even a couple years, organization is a top priority - and while many people may shy away from the idea of having to coordinate their own travel arrangements or accommodations in day-to-day life, solo travel is a trial-by-fire experience that will have you becoming an organizational guru by the time you’re done (a very important skill on any young person’s resume). Worried that you have no sense of direction? Well you’re in luck, because, when traveling alone, you’ll be forced to navigate unfamiliar territory by relying on nothing but a map and the kindness of strangers - especially in stops like Venice, which are a literal maze of narrow side streets and poorly marked alleyways. Finally, get ready to expand your horizons and learn some new languages - if you ever hope to get around, explore or even eat on your own, you’ll have to get the basics down in the local tongue.

6. Do what you want

Are you an adrenaline junkie who wants to get out on an ATV or jump out of a plane? Maybe you’re a partier, eager to try out your hand (and sick dance moves) at a raging club or perhaps head out on an all-night pub crawl? Or are you a history nerd, eager to check out the world’s most famous museums and landmarks? No matter which one of these categories you fall into (no doubt most of us check off boxes across all of them and more), solo travel is the only sure-fire way to ensure that you get to experience what you want, when you want, how you want! Put yourself in the driver’s seat of your own adventure - when you travel on your own, YOU decide the things you want to do at each stop, meaning that you’ll come out of the vacation much more fulfilled than if you had succumbed to the whims and will of your group of friends (design by committee just doesn’t work). And who knows - you might just find people along the way who want to take part in the exact same activities that you do!

7. Gain confidence

Many people rely on friends and family when traveling to provide a crutch when feeling out-of-place, lonely, lost, scared or confused. By traveling alone instead, you’re forced to confront some of your biggest fears about travel head-on - this includes everything from getting lost in a strange city, navigating an unfamiliar transit system, pushing yourself to meet new people or staying in a hostel dorm crammed to the brim with other sometimes unruly or unkempt travellers (just to name a few). However, from experience I can share that these fears dissolve almost immediately - once you’re fully immersed in your adventure, you’ll find that these minor inconveniences are all part of the experience and, by-and-large, the pros of travel far outweigh the cons. And once you’ve overcome what you previously might have seen as insurmountable challenges, you’ll have the confidence and sense of achievement needed to just conquer just about anything.

8. Can be cheaper

A perfectly planned trip will all mean nothing if you can’t afford to do it! By going solo, you only have one budget to worry about - meaning that you can decide the kinds of accommodations, travel arrangements and activities that you’re willing to spend your cash on and can do away with unnecessarily expensive luxuries that your friends might otherwise insist on. By finding conveniently priced hostels stocked with amenities and local travel resources (try Hostelworld.com - this is a great place to search thanks to the first-hand reviews from other travellers) or even by booking a Contiki-style tour that meets your timeframe, budget and desired itinerary, you’ll quickly find that not only will your adventure cost you less than you might have previously expected, but you’ll also be surrounded by like-minded travellers in the exact same boat as you!

9. Set your own pace

Whether you’re eager to see as much as possible, as quickly as possible, or looking to go at a leisurely pace where you can explore and really soak in the experience, solo travel leaves that decision up to you! Some travellers know exactly which sights they want to see in any given stop, which might mean hammering out an entire city in only a couple days, like I did in Istanbul, Turkey, and then moving onto the next leg of the adventure (this approach is perfect for those of you working with a limited timeline and with a clear idea of what you hope to get out of the experience). On the other hand, you might prefer to go into the adventure with a more laissez-faire attitude instead, spending days-and-days in a single location exploring every nook and cranny and discovering things that most don’t get to experience when they move a bit too quickly. Either way, traveling alone gives you the chance to set your own pace and decide what works best for you!

10. Find yourself

Above all else, traveling on your own allows you to discover things about yourself that you otherwise would never know and to do things that you otherwise would never believe you were capable of. After completing my own solo trip across Europe, I now understand the value of this kind of experience (which is a lot coming from someone as stubborn as me) and I am more eager than ever to embark on my next adventure, once again all by myself! Don’t let the opportunity to discover the power of travel for yourself pass you by before it’s too late - capitalize on your wanderlust, however small of an amount that may be, and go see what the world has waiting for you!

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