"Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living." - Miriam Beard
If you haven't noticed, I travel alone quite a bit, so it's no surprise that I'm a huge advocate for it. But why travel solo you may ask? Well, here are 10 very good reasons why you should! I hope it'll inspire you to book a solo trip for your next adventure 😊.
1. You discover yourself
I'm sure this is the number one reason people always write about when it comes to traveling solo. It's cliché, but so so true. Not sure who you are as a person? Want to know how you'd handle being a fish out of water? Then transplant yourself in a foreign country and you'll find out for sure. When you're all alone in a different country where they might not speak your language, you really learn about all your strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and maybe even what you're really looking for out of life.
For me, I learned that I'm completely in my element when I'm in a foreign destination, even if I don't know a single soul or the local language. The unknown and newness of a place is thrilling for me, and I learned that I could handle just about anything if I put my mind to it.
2. It's empowering
One of the most empowering thing you can do is make it in a foreign city, whether it's for a few days, a week, or even months. I love the feeling of accomplishment I get whenever I figure out a new subway system or when I manage to find my way to my destination without the help of Google maps. When I was in Italy, I tried to practice my Italian - the very little I knew - and when a local actually understood me and responded back in Italian, I would feel so proud of myself (even if I had no clue what they said back). It's these little milestones that you reach everyday that builds your confidence, and you'll take that confidence with you long after your trip is over.
3. You learn to be alone
When my sister heard that I was going to travel alone during my holiday break, she replied, "That's so lonely." And I think people think that being alone equates to being lonely, but it's not the same at all! I'm an introvert, so being alone is where I thrive. I love being in solitude with my own thoughts. It helps me process and really appreciate whatever I'm experiencing. But maybe you're not an introvert. Maybe you hate the idea of being alone, and that's completely ok. But I think one of the biggest lessons in life is to learn how to be by yourself and enjoy it. There's no reason why you shouldn't enjoy your own company!
4. You learn to adapt and to be flexible
Sometimes, no matter how much you plan for the perfect trip, things change and plans don't go accordingly. But ruined plans shouldn't lead to a ruined trip. It's ok to not visit every single destination you planned for as long you're enjoying and appreciating what you do see. In fact, looking back on my travels, some of the best times I've had was when I strayed off plan or took an unexpected detour. Yes, planning to some extent is important when traveling, but it's also important to be flexible and adapt. Why bother stressing out about plans that have gone awry when you could just go with the flow and make the most of it?
5. It challenges you but the reward is greater
It's not easy being in a completely new environment surrounded by strangers and in a culture that may be different from yours. It's not easy getting lost in the streets and being too afraid to ask someone because you don't speak their language. Not to mention all the obstacles you may face before even getting to the destination, like encountering an airstrike or missing the last train home. When you travel alone, every day presents a new challenge, but facing those challenges is a part of the journey and overcoming them makes traveling solo all the more rewarding.
6. You learn that the world isn't so big after all
When you travel, you meet people from all walks of life. You'll meet locals and other travelers, people who come from opposite sides of the globe, and sometimes there's even a language barrier. But what amazes me is when we still find something to connect on. Maybe it's our travel stories or we share the same interests or sense of humor. And while it may only be a brief relationship before you part ways, you'll learn that people aren't all the different. I've met some pretty amazing people from traveling, and every time I meet someone from another corner of the Earth, the world seems to get a little smaller.
7. You're free to do as you please
The worst part of traveling with someone is when you both get to the destination and then realize you don’t want to do the same things. You paid good money to go on this trip, so you deserve to see what you want to see! When you travel alone, you can do whatever you want, when you want. You can wake up and plan your day however you want, explore at your own pace, and really customize your trip to your liking.
8. It's easier to make new friends (if you want to)
Whenever I visit a foreign destination, I enjoy making friends and talking to locals. As a solo traveler, I've found that it's a lot easier to do this. People find you more approachable when you're not surrounded by a group of friends.
On the other hand, if you want to be alone and don't want to make friends, you can do that too (that's what headphones and sunglasses are for!). There are times when I just want to enjoy the experience alone and have a moment of peace even if I'm surrounded by a sea of tourists. When you travel alone, you can decide to be as social or anti-social as you want.
9. You learn that less is more
When I first started traveling, packing was a nightmare (it still is), but as I travel more, I've learned that I can live pretty minimally. Do I need to pack 14 different tops for a two week vacation? No. Do I need to pack a cocktail dress just in case I meet the Prince of Monaco and he wants to take me to a fancy dinner? Well no…but just in case. I used to pack for every "what if" scenario I create in my head. But when I went to study abroad in London, I managed to condense everything I needed into one large suitcase and a carry-on for four months. It was hard and somedays I cursed myself for bringing more clothes, but I also felt less burdened.
Traveling solo, and especially if it's for a long period of time, you learn that you don't need a lot to get by. You just make do with what you have and adapt. And when you look back on your trip, you're not going to be thinking about how you wore the same shirt in basically all your photos. You're going to reminisce on all the amazing times you had.
10. What you experience will be just as meaningful
I think a lot of people hesitate on traveling alone because they want to share the experience with someone, and there's nothing wrong with that. There definitely have been times when I experienced something amazing and I thought, "Wow, I wish my family was here to see this." But being alone does not lessen my experience in any way. At the end of the day, your travel experience and the memories you gain will be yours, meaningful, and something you'll treasure always.