10 REASONS TO TRAVEL SOLO
Ask me what my ultimate adventure is and I’ll always answer – travelling solo. There really is something wildly indescribable and adventurous about waking up in a new city and not knowing one single person. Have you travelled solo before? It’s such a great way to break free of co-dependency on family, friends and partners and strengthen independence, confidence and communication skills. Travelling solo forces you out of your comfort zone and lends itself to experiences you never thought possible.
If you are a first timer, there are some incredibly inspiring networks and communities sharing their solo travel experiences, something I wrote about when I first started Mr Weekender, see here.
Next week I will be travelling to three different countries over the course of 23 days with only four days in between to unpack and repack. I will be travelling solo on one of these trips and when recently asked by my friends if I was nervous, I replied bluntly – “as if!”
The adrenalin of solo travel is like nothing I’ve experienced before and I cannot wait. I’ll be on my own time, doing what I want, when I want. So for those of you seeking some advice or confidence building when thinking about embarking on a solo trip, below are my top ten reasons for travelling solo.
1. Self discovery Travelling outside your comfort zone will teach you things about yourself you didn’t know. Nothing is guaranteed in travel, not even a good time. So the real test is revealed when and how you handle certain situations. It requires patience, organisation, guts and determination. And when you feel like you don’t have those, fake it till you make it.
2. You will meet amazing people Meeting new people can be really tough when you’re travelling alone. You need to push your ill ease and insecurities aside and strike up a conversation. The more practice, the easier it gets. I am a menace when it comes to striking up a conversation with someone I don’t know – I love it! Behind the exterior, you can really find out what makes a person tick. Be it my local convenience store guy, the bus driver or a little old lady whom I hold the elevator door for, everyone has a story worth sharing. And who knows, with a simple hello and high five, you might make a friend, mentor or lover for life.
3. The overwhelming sense of freedom Freedom is defined as the right to act, speak or think as one wants. I am pretty sure ‘solo travel’ should be printed next to its definition in the dictionary. When you’re travelling solo, you are open to adventure and change. You don’t have to fit into anyone’s itinerary, give explanations, or question someone’s ability to read a map. You won’t disappoint anyone, you will march to your own beat, you’ll do what you want, when you want.
4. You will save money When you travel solo, you only have to worry about your own finances. You can learn how to live simply. You can hire a bicycle instead of catching a taxi or the subway. Even better – you can walk everywhere, which incidentally is the best way to get to know a new city and its locals. You can stay at a hostel, hotel, or couch surf – whatever your jam. And the money you save can be better spent on your next trip!
5. Learn about a new culture Travelling to a different country will allow you to get to know the people, culture, food, language, lifestyle and history. I’ve never met a local who lost their patience with me when I tried speaking their language in Paris, Berlin, Athens, Marrakech, Rome and Barcelona. Give it shot! It’s fun! A new culture will expand your outlook on life. It will make you look at your own life differently. You will learn to appreciate what you have and not concern yourself with the things you don’t have. A new culture will open your mind to endless possibilities.
6. It will improve your problem solving Getting lost and feeling confused, happy, sad and angry is all part of the process of travelling solo. All you need to do is stop, breathe and ask for help. Learning a few phrases or investing in a phrase book so you can show people what you need help with will go a long way.
7. You can indulge without being judged If you want to eat pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner in Florence – you have no one to answer to. If you want to spend day after day exploring the Louvre in Paris – you have no one to answer to. If you want to walk around Berlin and be a nerd by discovering the histories of WWII step by step – you have no one to answer to. It all sounds pretty indulgent, doesn’t it? Well, it is. And I don’t have to answer to you.
8. For the stories I love a good story. Who doesn’t? By travelling solo, you’ll create endless memories to inspire your family and friends to do the same. Your solo trips are yours, and yours only. That itself is completely exceptional.
9. It gives you the chance to nurture yourself In our busy lives, we are often too busy with work, family, friends and partnerships to really take stock about what it is that we as individuals really want. We are too busy making sure everyone around us is happy that we easily forget about numero uno. Solo travel is incredibly powerful and gives you the chance to think deeply about your life, the people in it, your job, where you want to be and where you want to go. If you do take the chance and travel solo, I highly recommend using it as an introspective experience. Reflect on your dreams, thoughts and the world as you experience it. You will come home feeling rejuvenated and enlightened.
10. You won’t get lonely Those who have never truly travelled on their own will not understand this. Just because you’re travelling alone, it doesn’t immediately translate into being lonely. Last year I had an epiphany. I was spending every weekend doing what my friends wanted to do – surfing. Whilst I loved spending time with my friends and I loved surfing, I never felt lonelier. Put simply, I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do. One weekend I decided to go on a road trip and go solo hiking, much to the shock of my friends who were left wondering what on earth could be better than surfing. Each to their own, right? I will always remember that first solo hike. I found it empowering because I was doing exactly what I wanted. I couldn’t wipe the cheesy grin off my face. I didn’t have to worry about keeping anyone else happy, except myself. I was alone but I never, not even for one second, felt lonely.
So go on. Be brave. Be bold. Travel solo!