Traveling alone has lots of benefits that you might have never considered before. Scary as the thought might be, remember that people generally regret those things they haven’t done rather than those that they have!
And traveling solo doesn’t mean donning a backpack and trekking across Nepal for weeks or months on end all on your lonesome. Jetting off for a weekend in Prague might just be enough to give you enough confidence to go somewhere else further afield. Either that, or realize that solo travel just isn’t your bag and find a travel buddy to drag along next time!
But why do people travel alone?
Well, some of the reasons people give include:
- Having the freedom to make your own decisions and not worry about what anyone else wants to do
- Traveling at your own pace and not being hurried along by others
- ‘Travel broadens the mind’ It might be an old chicle, but it’s one that lots subscribe to
- Having time to find yourself and discover what ‘you’ actually like to do
- Making new friends
- Receiving a boost to your confidence and self-esteem.
So, still not buying it?
Well, think about how you feel when you’re doing something new for the first time. You might be nervous as hell but then think about how great you feel when you conquer it and your fear too! Does give a little boost to your confidence doesn’t it? Traveling solo can make you realize how capable you actually are. It will allow you to find your own way for a while rather than being dragged along with others and you’ll have an opportunity to find out what ‘you’ enjoy doing.
Traveling alone, you actually meet more people!
If you’re concerned that traveling solo means traveling alone, think again. You’ll probably make far more friends than you would if you were traveling with family or friends, as there’ll be more opportunities to talk to others. If you meet someone you really connect with then you can spend more time with them and if you don’t, you are your own boss so you can move on!
Most of us worry far too much about talking to strangers. We’re nervous, we’re worried about making a fool of ourselves and we’re worried about rejection. But think of it like this – the person that you’re thinking of beginning a conversation with might feel exactly the same way. How relieved will they be to have made a new friend and not have had to make the effort to begin the conversation or provide the icebreaker?
How to meet people while traveling solo
If you’re not sure about talking to new people, the best way to start up a conversation is to ask a question. Have they visited any places they’d recommend? Eaten at any restaurants/cafes with great food? Most people love a chance to talk about their experiences, where they’ve been and what they’ve discovered. If they don’t seem interested in talking to you, don’t take it personally.
They might be having an unsociable day, they might be really shy and afraid of all the things listed above and if it really is as simple as they’re just not interested in talking to you then you’ll be far better focusing your energy elsewhere. Worst case you might feel a little hurt if they don’t want to talk to you, but you’ll live. And you never know you might, just might find a new best friend!
In any case, time alone can do all of us good. It gives us chance to reflect about our lives, relationships and work. Most of all, it gives us an opportunity to count our blessings. Even if all we find out from our travels is that we’re happy with our lot, then it’s a worthwhile experience.
Solo traveling: unleash the writer within
If you do embark on solo travel then take a journal so you can use this time to write down memories of your travels, your thoughts and experiences. Waiting until you get back will leave you with patchy memories and increase the likelihood that these memories will be committed to being just that. Once you’re home it’s unlikely you’ll ever find time to write about your experiences.
Having access to Facebook and/or Twitter will help during those times where you’re feeling a bit lost and forlorn. You can easily log on and find some friends right where you left them!
You won’t need a rigid itinerary. If you wake up one day and feel like lying on the beach instead of getting out and exploring your new surroundings, then you can do just that. No need to worry about anyone else and what they want to do. Fancy a continental breakfast and people watching on a pavement cafe? No worries.
There are other bonuses to traveling alone. It’s much easier to get an upgrade on a flight, a seat on a crowded bus or a heaving restaurant and a place on a tour that others have to wait hours for because there’s just that one single place left. You will be much more likely to listen to your own intuition and could be met with some amazing opportunities that you might otherwise have missed. You’re also more likely to experience the true culture and customs of your destination as you’ll be more open to meeting others and making new friends.
Still not convinced…
Then consider group traveling or join a tour bus. You’ll then be in an environment with people who have similar interests to you and still have some element of pleasing yourself. If you visit a city you feel comfortable exploring on your own then you can or if you want to tag along with the group then the option’s there. The majority of your fellow travelers will be amenable to starting conversations and making new friends will be lots easier.
Matt is a keen traveler and has been on many a trip on his own, as well as with friends and family. He runs an SEO Agency in London for his real job, but he also enjoys blogging for travel companies such as No.1 Traveller, operators of airport lounges at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.