The concept of travelling alone can inspire a slew of different emotions: fear, excitement, apprehension, and liberation. While travelling without the comfort of close friends can be daunting and even downright scary, plenty of lone wolves around the world embark on solo adventures in search of peace, solitude, personal growth, new friendships and radical experiences. Here are a few perks of heading into the unknown with only you and your backpack.
Following your own schedule
Solo travel gives you the freedom to do exactly what you want, when you want. With no obligations from home, and no compromises to make with a travel partner, you can indulge in the things you enjoy, such as spending an extra twenty minutes wandering round a museum or pausing to savour the sunset. When the only schedule you have to keep is your own, without the interests or expectations of a fellow traveller, the experience can be more spontaneous and satisfying.
Meeting new people
Without the comfortable crutch of close friends or a partner to spend time with, you are more likely to reach out to other travellers or locals and create meaningful friendships—even if it only for that day. When you stay in hostels, it is particularly easy to connect with strangers. A night out will ordinarily bring you into contact with locals who will love telling you about their country, its customs—and how they like to party. Be prepared to throw a few back with your new friends, and you’ll usually find you’ve made fast friends.
Stepping outside your comfort zone
Travelling on your own is a guaranteed way to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Travelling solo forces you to step into challenging and unfamiliar territory on a regular basis: You might decide to take a scuba diving class, say yes to an invitation to go salsa dancing, hike a difficult peak, or simply learn to navigate the subway system without help. You will develop new perspectives, and face fears head on. The sense of gratification you will feel as a result of taking these types of risks on your own will Make it all worth it, and show you that you really can do anything.
Getting to know yourself well
Travelling alone provides the opportunity to learn more about yourself. When you are separated from the influences and prejudices of others, your decisions can become completely reflective of your own needs and desires. With no distractions or other people to worry about, you learn to rely entirely on your own company for comfort, guidance and decision-making. You listen to yourself, learn what you like and dislike, and understand how you react in various situations. As a result, you will discover a comprehensive understanding of who you are as a person, and what Fulfils you and makes you happy.
Many countries around the world are very hospitable, and as a solo traveller it is not uncommon to be invited to dinner with a new friend or their family. You may meet someone on the bus, or strike up a conversation while asking for directions. Mostly, people are curious and interested to know about you and your country, and also keen for you to know about their country and show you how kind their people are. Hospitable strangers may offer guided city tours, give you restaurant advice, help with the language and introduce you to food and recipes you would not ordinarily have experienced. It’s less intimidating for someone to get to know a person on their own, so as a solo traveller, you’ll find more opportunities to make these connections.
The best destinations for solo travellers
Solo travellers will experience a warm welcome in many destinations, and certain spots known for their friendly attitude towards foreigners have jumped to the top of independent travellers’ lists. Consider journeying through Thailand, known as the “Land of Smiles,” which is not only welcoming but also has enough infrastructure for the first-time solo traveller to feel comfortable. Costa Rica is also a popular spot for solo adventurers, and not just for its white sand beaches—Costa Rican hospitality is world-renowned. These days, though, it’s easy for a solo traveller to feel at home almost anywhere. If you’re an outgoing sort, there are meetups all over the world that will allow you to get to know other people, as well as apps that let you find other solo folks to make new friends.
Travelling alone gives you many more opportunities to experience things you may not ordinarily do if you have a travel companion. Many solo travellers embrace their freedom and subsequently enjoy a better and more profound travel experience. If you still have reservations about travelling solo, try it out on a short trip of say a month and see how you adapt.