Without a doubt, travelling solo is one of the best things you can and will do in your life. The solitude, the freedom, the total escape from your everyday life can be truly intoxicating.
Of course, being on your own in a foreign place can be daunting, but in our experience, it is also utterly thrilling and enduringly fulfilling.
Last week we wrote about the downsides of travelling alone, the worst of course being having no one to mind your bags when you visit a bathroom. Now it’s time to focus on the many, many positives.
1. You can do whatever you want
We don’t get to be selfish very often, but when you’re travelling alone, it’s all about you – your time, your wants, and your wishes.
You can go anywhere you want and be as active or lazy as you feel like being. Want to start the day at 6am to climb a mountain? Go for it! Prefer to spend three hours sitting in a café people watching? Do it! It is rare and wonderful to be your own navigator and not have to consider others.
2. You meet loads of people and make heaps of new friends
Travelling alone is the best way to meet fellow travellers. Sure, it can be tough at times but when you travel long-term you tend to become a bit of a natural extrovert and that makes it easy as pie to get chatting with someone on a train or waiting in a queue.
Travelling in a couple of is wonderful of course, but others tend to give you a wide berth – you are so obviously a ‘unit’ that they don’t want to intrude. However, a single girl or a single guy travelling alone just invites people to welcome them to their table, to chat over the bar, make friends and perhaps start travelling together.
For some reason locals also tend to be nicer to you if you’re on your own – they genuinely want you to enjoy their home and see the very best of it. In our travels we’ve had free city tours and food recommendations from lovely locals – all of which have really enhanced our experiences.
3. You learn how to look after yourself
When you are alone in a foreign country and you find yourself in a tight or difficult situation, you have to get yourself out of it. Unless you figure out a solution or get some help, then plans can go awry or you can find yourself temporarily trapped in some awful village in the middle of no where. Sometimes this can led to worse problems but ultimately, this is about learning to look after yourself and deal with situations.
4. And then there’s the romance!
If you are a little lucky, travelling alone can lead to some of the best romances of your life. It could be a few perfect days in Prague with a kindred spirit, or a special connection in Sofia that leaves you with a happy heart. Holiday romances can become memories that warm you in your old age and great stories for a girl’s night out after too many martinis.
Similarly, you could fine a rare romance that changes your life. A big love – the kind that causes people to shift continents to be with the person they knew for only a few weeks (this is how Kirst met her fiancé!).
Whilst it’s easy to get caught up in the moment when you feel a true connection with someone, it is important to always be sensible and look after yourself. Never let yourself get into a situation where you are uncomfortable, or get out of such situations as quickly as possible. Personal safety should always come above all else.
5. You can be ‘you’
The clichéd notion that people go travelling to ‘find themselves’ is often laughed at but in our opinion it shouldn’t be. When you’re travelling on your own there is plenty of time for self-reflection and improvement and without the pressures from home to be the perfect son/daughter/friend you can be free to be yourself. When you relax and break free of the expectations others hold of you, it’s a truly wonderful feeling.
6. It gives you perspective
While at home it is sometimes easy to fall into a trap of #firstworldproblems – whinging about slow wi-fi, the guy hogging the treadmill at the gym or how your friends earn more money than you. When you’re on your own in a foreign country, this stuff really doesn’t seem to matter all that much.
Similarly, when you realise how privileged you are in comparison to so many others in the world, it can be quite a humbling experience. Of course, any travel – whether alone or with others – can give you this perspective, but solo travel perhaps allows you more time and opportunities to reflect on it.
7. It boosts your confidence
Beyonce’s got it, we all want it. What’s the best way to give yourself a confidence boost? A spray tan…Travelling solo. When you’re 100% independent, self-reliant, constantly pushing past your comfort zone, and making new friends wherever you go, you quickly accrue more confidence than you can poke a stick at.
This makes somewhat scary experiences like rocking that bikini in Ibiza or bungee jump over a freezing cold river – exhilarating and bucketloads more fun!
8. There’s no one to judge or nag you
Want to eat cake for breakfast and follow it up with gelato for lunch? Unless you Instagram it no one will ever know. If this isn’t one of the huge upsides of travelling alone, we don’t know what is!
No-one likes to be judged for their choices and one of the huge upsides of travelling alone is that there’s no one around to tut-tut at ‘the way you roll’. Whether you’re partial to rocking the socks and sandals combo or prefer McDonald’s to authentic street food, being free to do what you want without judgment is a rarity that should be treasured.
Another plus is that you can flirt outrageously and misbehave as much as you want and no one will complain about you being hungover and ruining their day of sightseeing. Not that either of us would ever do such things…
9. You have a legitimate reason to take #Selfies
Ok so this isn’t really a reason but who doesn’t love a selfie and a bit of a ‘travel brag’ to make all your friends back home jealous? It can’t just be us!
When you’re on your own it can be a bit awkward perfecting the perfect shot of you with said monument/meal/crazy looking local in the background but it’s a bit of fun and if you’re really crap at it a good excuse to ask that other good-looking tourist to take a picture for you. You never know that might be the start of a beautiful holiday romance…
10. The way you feel afterwards
After travelling solo, facing a few weird situations, meeting new friends and seeing strange and wonderful places, you are left with improved sense of self-confidence, independence, courage, trust and knowledge of yourself and a better understanding of what it is like to be a small – if very able – person in this big wide world. Those are qualities that stick with you for the rest of your life and shape the person you are.