Whether you're a first-time traveller or a seasoned pro, going it alone can be scary. We naturally feel safer in a group, surrounded by the people we know, the people who know us. And yet, there's wistfulness in our admiration of the people we see traveling alone. So what are the benefits of biting the bullet and going solo?
1) Traveling solo is the ejector button for your comfort zone
Leaving your comfort zone is one of the greatest challenges and greatest rewards of traveling alone. It means leaving behind not only the familiarity of home, but the support of the people you rely on day-to-day. It's scary, but transformative. You'll gain experiences and face challenges that would never come up inside your comfort bubble, and you'll learn more about yourself by taking them on without the helping hands you usually rely on.
2) You will learn to depend on yourself completely
We don't realize how much we rely on the people around us until we leave them behind. Traveling alone means doing everything for yourself: solving problems, making decisions, even taking care of your own well-being. It's unlikely you'll ever have to be so self-sufficient in your life as you are when traveling alone. You'll learn to trust your own judgement and rely on your abilities. It's a liberating experience which can empower you in every aspect of your life going forward.
3) You'll really get to know yourself
It might be a weird concept, but how well do you really know yourself? When we're surrounded by the same people every day, our choices, opinions and behaviors are moulded by our family and peers in ways we rarely recognize. Traveling solo means not only proving that you can be more independent than you may have realized, but getting to know yourself away from the influence of the people you usually spend your time with. Traveling alone gives you the mental and physical space to develop your own thoughts and ideas about the world, pressure-free.
4) You'll build more, genuine friendships
It's easy to be lazy when it comes to socializing. Walking up to a stranger and introducing yourself is daunting; really getting to know somebody requires time and effort. So, if you're traveling with friends or family, you're much more likely to stick with the people we know. Traveling alone not only gives you the motivation to put yourself out there and meet people, but opens up your heart and mind to new relationships. The friendships you forge traveling alone as some of the most meaningful and life-changing, even if you never see those people again.
5) It's cheaper
Traveling solo means taking full responsibility for everything, and that includes your finances. Traveling with others often means spending money on things you wouldn't choose to spend money on alone, whether that's a meal in a restaurant, or perhaps entrance to an attraction or museum you're not personally interested in. Group mentality makes us far more likely to toss aside our budget, whereas traveling alone means being able to focus, spending only on the things we really deem worth it. Plus, you can often get great rates for single rooms in hotels when hostel dorms aren't an option.
6) You can go your own way
Being in control of your own route is an exhilarating part of traveling alone. You are in complete control of where you're going and how long you're staying there, and you have complete flexibility. Whether you love the city you're in and want to stay extra time, or hate it and want to leave immediately, the choice is yours. If you want to cancel your onward bus and go somewhere else that's been recommended to you, that's up to you. Traveling alone means choosing what attractions to see and which to skip: it's your itinerary, and yours alone.
7) You can be completely selfish
Not having to accommodate anybody else in your plans is an extremely liberating experience. It's a rare opportunity to listen to your heart and your body, and do what you truly want. If you wake up feeling spontaneous and energetic, off you go. If you feel run down and want to sit around the hostel in pajamas all day, who's gonna stop you? Fancy a meal in a nice restaurant or instant noodles in your room? Either is fine! Whatever it is you want to do, being able to do it without the worry of disappointing or exasperating anybody else is freedom in its purest, most enjoyable form.
8) You'll absorb the places you visit much more
A big difference between traveling alone or with others is that when we travel with other people, we have a constant distraction. There's always a conversation going on about something else. You joke around and talk about home and it's great fun, but it detracts from the experience. When you visit places alone, you're fully tuned-in to what's happening around you. You absorb the mood of the place, notice quirks in the architecture, take time to sit and observe the locals. This feeling of being in touch with the places you visit makes a huge difference — like living in HD.
9) It's a great confidence boost
You'll be amazed how much easier life seems after you've travelled alone. When you've had the opportunity to push your limits and pull yourself through difficult situations without the help of others, you feel stronger and more self-reliant. You'll also have better developed social skills; little things like walking into a party alone might once have been terrifying, but now feel like nothing. You know you can organize anything and make friends with anyone. Your newfound confidence will radiate.
10) It turns you into a pro traveller
Traveling is one of those things which gets easier the more you do it. When you travel alone and take full responsibility for booking and organizing your trip, you have to learn. You'll pick up on things like how to get the cheapest flights and hostel deals, how to book a multi-stage trip or organize an itinerary. You'll develop a better sense of direction and navigational skills. You'll improve on communicating effectively with the locals when they don't speak English. All your experiences shape you into the person everyone looks to for advice when it comes to traveling abroad; the person who can handle anything.