The first excuses that many people come up with when asked why they won’t travel alone is because they fear they’ll become bored or feel lonely while travelling. There is a massive group of independent travelers who will dispel those thoughts for you immediately. Many note how opposite from the truth that idea is. There are benefits to travelling solo that you don’t get when someone (or many “someones”) tag along for the adventure.
One of the greatest luxuries of travelling alone is that you don’t have to answer to anyone else. You can sleep in, change plans, and even change destinations and the only person you have to answer to and convince about the change is yourself. If you need a slow day to relax on the beach or read a book, you can take it and not feel bad about messing up the schedule. If you want to hike and push yourself to explore more, you can, and no one will be complaining about missed reservations while you do it.
Another benefit of travelling alone is that you control your social life. Instead of constant dinners and lunches and shows with the people you came with, you can choose when you want to be social and when you want to stick with yourself. For example, eating alone can often be an extremely social experience. It’s rare to sit down at a restaurant alone, and leave without meeting at least one new person.
Hostels are another place that encourages conversation and friendships—no matter how brief. Sharing a room with 10 strangers makes it near impossible to not meet people and hear about their adventures. Oftentimes you can even find a travel partner for a day or two if you want someone to tag along in your adventures!
There is something about travelling alone that allows you to become more confident and trusting of your own abilities. You never know what you’re able to do until you are faced with the situation. Your mistakes are your own, and your successes are all the more exciting for doing them on your own. Think you can’t navigate your way from the airport to the hotel in a foreign county with an unfamiliar language? You’ll be surprised what you can do when you have to, and nothing builds confidence faster than knowing you can rely on yourself to get out of a sticky situation. You’ll emerge from solo travel with a stronger sense of self and a feeling of self-assurance.
Aside from the excitement and discovery that solo travel brings, it has another major benefit that you may not have known about: stress relief. When you have the time in solitude to reflect and relax, you get the added bonus of lowering stress levels. When you expose yourself to a new culture and immerse yourself in their ways of life, you are opening yourself up and cultivating mindfulness by focusing entirely on the present moment and not worrying about the trivialities of daily life. Noticing new things helps take the focus off yourself, and puts it back in the environment and in the culture you are experiencing.
Like any holiday, when you travel solo it is important to stay safe and aware of your environment. Be sure to register your travel plans with Smarttraveller, so you are accessible in the event of an emergency or if someone needs to get in touch with you. In addition, you should protect yourself and your solo trip by purchasing travel health insurance from Cover-More Australia. That way you can relax and enjoy your independent vacation without the fear of something unexpected ruining the experience.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Moyen Brenn.