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Every year I go on at least one solo trip. Some people understand why. Most people don’t get it. But for me, it’s essential. Perhaps you’re an experienced solo traveller, or maybe you’d like to be but need a little push. Or perhaps you’re just wondering why on earth anyone would want to travel the world alone. Whatever camp you sit in, this blog post will give you 5 reasons to travel solo and hopefully give you the push you need to embark on a solo adventure of your own.
Here are 5 reasons why I love to travel solo.
1. It gives you time to think, time to be still
We are all so busy rushing from one appointment to the next and cramming social engagements and commitments into our diary, it’s a rare phenomenon when we actually stop. I know those moments in my life are too few and far between.
And even when we stop, we are surrounded by people, which, don’t get me wrong, is great – good times are had and memories are made – but when do we ever get time to just be? Be ourselves, be alone with our own thoughts, be still and learn to be happy in our own company. I don’t know about you but, for me, it’s not all that often.
So these rare occasions of solo travel afford me the time to be alone with my thoughts, recalibrate and reset. And this is essential for my mental health and wellbeing.
2. You will step outside your comfort zone and improve your self confidence
It’s often all too easy to rest on our laurels and coast along in life, always taking the easy option. There’s nothing wrong with this but, personally, I need a bit of a challenge from time to time. And travelling alone affords me the perfect opportunity to step outside my comfort zone.
Landing on the tarmac of a new city presents a unique set of challenges and when you’re travelling solo, you have to find a way to combat those challenges alone. Something that may initially seem simple, such as navigating your way around a city via a public transport system you’ve never used, often with instructions and signs in a language you don’t speak, can either cripple you with fear or present you with an opportunity to surprise yourself.
When you travel solo, there’s no one there to fall back on if the worst happens. Again, this could fill you with dread or you could see it as an opportunity to show yourself what you’re made of and learn to problem solve on the spot. And when you successfully come through all by yourself, your self confidence grows in leaps and bounds.
3. You can be completely and utterly selfish
I know that doesn’t initially sound like a beneficial thing (who wants to be known as selfish?), but hear me out. I don’t know about you, but my life often revolves around other people. Keeping everyone in my life, as well as myself, happy often feels like a delicate balancing act in which I usually drop one of the balls. And, more often than not, the ball I drop is my own self-care.
I was raised to put other people first, to think of others and do good deeds and I’m grateful that this principle was instilled in me. But with limited hours in the day, I often end up putting myself on the back burner, to my own detriment. And ultimately, to the detriment of others too. How can you be everything you need to be if you’re burnt out and exhausted? You absolutely must put your own life jacket on first, before you can help other people.
For me, solo travel is that life jacket. For just a few short days, I can wake up when I want to, eat whenever and whatever I want, explore a place in the way that I want and live life on my own schedule with no regard for others. Does that sound awfully self-centered? Perhaps. But I find it necessary to put myself first once in a while and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
4. You can be spontaneous
I love holidaying with my husband and our group of friends. But sometimes, it can be a real task to work around everyone’s schedule and plan a trip that suits everyone’s interests. As well as that, you often have to plan weeks in advance to allow everyone to make arrangements – booking time off work, arranging a dog sitter, etc.
Planning a solo trip, on the other hand, is refreshingly simple. I can book a flight and destination that suits me and go – sometimes with only a day or two’s notice. Spontaneity is the name of the game and keeps me on my toes!
5. You can work to your own budget
Ever been on a trip with a friend who is totally broke and can’t afford to eat in that fancy restaurant you had your eye on? Or conversely, perhaps you’ve been that broke friend and ended up splashing out on luxuries you can’t afford because you’re travelling with someone who’s a little high maintenance.
When you travel alone, you have complete control over your own purse strings. For example, you don’t need to check anyone else’s budget if you fancy splashing out on a luxury hotel. Or if you need to keep the pennies in order, maybe you’re happy to skip the fancy restaurants and cook for yourself in your self-catered apartment instead.
Basically, travelling alone means you do you. Unapologetically.
The downsides of travelling solo
Of course, as with everything, there are down sides to solo travel. Sometimes you will wish you had someone by your side to share those special moments with. And it’s always good to have someone at your side for emotional support if things do go south. Or, maybe you just don’t enjoy spending time alone, in which case, there’s probably no good reason to force yourself to do something you know you won’t enjoy.
Solo travel isn’t for everyone. But if you’re looking for a nudge to get out there and travel the world alone, consider this it.