I can’t tell you the countless times I’ve spoken to people about my travels and they say, “Oh, I’ve always wanted to go there!” And too many times, when I ask them why they haven’t, the answer isn’t “budget,” “family obligations” etc. but rather, “Oh! I don’t have anyone to go with!” or “my friends and I were planning but….” Stop.
I am a huge proponent of traveling alone. It was even a part of my talk at Women’s Travel Fest. I just spent a glorious weekend traveling along to western Puerto Rico for my birthday. I relish it.
I first got the travel-alone bug the summer after college while living in Italy. The family I was living with in Milan was going to be away for a week before we left for Gallipoli and plans I made with friends fell through. I decided to give Geneva and Lausanne a whirl. It was easy to get to from Milan and my Couchsurfing hosts were spectacular. Read the play by play of this trip on this travel diary blog post using some of my chats at the time!
Waking up in Lausanne on my birthday with new friends and a day of new possibilities was thrilling to me. I love traveling with friends and family, press trips are fun, but nothing compares to the freedom of traveling alone. The people you meet, the situations you encounter, the way that you see a new locale, it’s exhilarating.
Here are my top 10 reasons to travel solo. Hopefully they inspire you to plan your next trip!
The freedom. I’m going to start with the biggest draw to traveling alone here, the freedom. There is something so exhilarating about exploring a new city or culture on your own without the obligation of the day to day back home that makes you feel free. Your time is your own.
Speaking of your time being your own, that’s another wonderful thing about solo travel. You’re on vacation! Why rely on other people’s schedules? Traveling alone gives you the opportunity to experience a destination exactly how you want. Want to sleep in? That’s fine! Spend the whole day touring niche museums? Not a problem. It’s all up to you.
SNAG THOSE DEALS.
Get those deals! It may sound a little selfish but treat yo self! How many times have you missed out on a great travel deal, or even concert tickets, because you were waiting to hear back from a friend whether or not to book. When you’re traveling alone, the answer is always, “yes! book now.”
Flight upgrades. A few times when traveling, I received an unexpected upgrade right before boarding my flight. Ticket counters are more likely to give these spontaneous upgrades to solo travelers. It makes more sense than separating a pair or group.
Flexibility. When traveling solo, if you’re exhausted, change the pace. Hate this town? Why not go to the next? These changes and adjustment can be made, exactly when you want, no negotiating with your partner.
Independence. While traveling alone, you learn your strengths and your weakness. A strong sense of independence is inevitable as survival is in your own hands. Whether it’s navigating a new language or city, or even an uncomfortable situation at a foreign bar, you gain strength and confidence!
Time for soul-searching. Traveling alone gives you time. The aforementioned independence gives you a lot of space for soul-searching. Strengths, weaknesses, you have to confront who you truly are as you learn to rely on yourself and your surroundings. Having time disconnected from everything and in your own head can be a great thing.
BRUSH UP ON YOUR LANGUAGE SKILLS.
It might give you a chance to practice that language you learned in high school. I’m a firm believer in there’s no better way to learn a language than full cultural immersion. I took Italian in college, Latin since 5th grade, so I definitely picked it up easily while living in Milan, but it wasn’t until spending a summer in Gallipoli, where I was the only person in town with English as their native tongue, that I truly gained a fluency in Italian. Dating, friends, jokes, I had to speak it. Often when we travel with friends or family, instead of getting that one of a kind local practice in the language we’ve been studying to ages, we revert to the safety-net of just chatting with your travel companion.
RESTORE YOUR FAITH IN HUMANITY.
Restore your faith in humanity. This seems like a lofty statement but trust me, it’s true. From that person that helps you take your carry on down on an airplane to the person that shows you your way to the hotel and ends up becoming a close friend. Traveling alone really shows you the kindness in strangers.
I’m ending with my favorite perk of traveling alone. Meeting people. Whether with a group, family, friend or significant other, when we travel with others, we tend to be closed off to our surroundings or experiencing the locale in a very narrow way. The next time you’re at a bar, take a look at the people in pairs. Even body language tends to form a barrier against the outside world. That charming and handsome stranger is much less likely to come up to you while with your friends. When traveling alone you tend to be friendlier, have a more receptive demeanor.
Be sure to follow my solo travels around the world on Instagram @nneya and Twitter @nneyarichards!
Have great experiences traveling solo? Share them with me in the comments! Never tried? Practice today by going to a bar or restaurant by yourself! Let me know how it goes.