To many people, the idea of traveling alone can be horrifying. Granted, plenty of things can go wrong while traveling solo (getting kidnapped, winding up in a foreign prison, having your organs harvested, being sold into slavery), but plenty can also go wrong if you’re traveling in a group, or if you’re not traveling at all. So suck it up.
1. Complete Freedom
When traveling solo you have only one person to answer to: you. If you don’t like the place you’re staying, then pack up and leave. Don’t want to sleep in? Don’t. Want to check out that gentlemen’s club? Go ahead. Trying to see if those Brazilians want to go out tonight? Go for it. Solo travel frees you up to make decisions based on what you want to do – however spontaneous, reckless, last-minute, or warned-against they may be. You will quickly find that solo travel let’s you make your adventure whatever you want it to be, without having to compromise and negotiate along the way.
2. Meet More People
One of the first things you will realized when traveling solo is that you are not alone. Many of your fellow travelers will also be on the road solo, and you’re not being with a group will make you both more approachable and relatable. It will quickly become apparent that people do not go traveling so that they can keep to themselves and not meet others; the self-selecting group that is travelers are inherently outgoing and friendly people (at least for the most part). And you are one of them.
3. You Can’t Go Wrong
If something doesn’t go according to plan, then great – that’s the new plan! You don’t have anyone hanging around to play the blame game with so it’s easy to go with the flow as you adjust for, and learn from any “mistakes” made along the way. It will quickly become apparent that you have only yourself to please (and to hold responsible). Blaze your own path attaching and detaching from groups of your fellow travelers at will; without anyone else to take into consideration you can be sure that every decision made was the one you wanted to make.
4. Revised Comfort Zones
It is easy to take sanctuary in your friends when traveling in a group, but solo travel will force you to try to experience new things to get the most out of your trip. If you’re an introvert who finds it hard to talk to strangers, now you only have strangers to talk to. Don’t feel comfortable using public transportation alone? Now you have no choice. Solo travel will also help you forget about those silly and imaginary feelings of embarrassment and awkwardness while providing a stage for you to challenge yourself on a personal level everyday.
5. Discover the Real You
Maybe you thought that you were some fearless travel Rambo, but now that you find only your own gut to rely on instead of the collective decision-making of your friends, things as simple as getting into that sketchy taxi or staying the night at that incredibly kind but somehow creepy Polish man’s house may present insurmountable mental hurdles. Turns out you weren’t as foolhardy as you thought. Solo travel allows you to recognize and develop parts of yourself that may have been formerly overlooked (like your inability to approach a group instead of being a part of said group to begin with).
6. Flexibility in Travel
Large groups are immobile. In order to accomplish anything, plans must be run through dozens of iterations and everyone must consent to go along with the next move. Traveling solo frees you up to make that split second decision to grab that last bus to your next destination a day early, to grab that last seat on the flight, or to slip into that restricted area without anyone noticing. The freedom that only having to worry about one person provides you is incredible, and you may find yourself hesitant to resume group travel after your initial taste of solo travel.
7. It’s More Fun
When I tell people worried about traveling alone for the first time that they are about to have one of the best trips of their lives, they tend to discount my saying so as some optimistic promise of comfort. However, what they don’t realize is that I am right. They will always return to tell me how much they loved traveling on their own, and how it was nothing like they had imagined. I promise you that solo travel will change the way you look at traveling and your fellow travelers, and most of all, that it’s more fun than you thought.