In recent years, I have observed a huge increase in the number of people who are embracing solo travel. This is a very good thing. I have enjoyed my share of solo travel over the last twenty plus years. I am a much better person for it. Travelling with friends and family can be fun but it can also be quite stressful. If you are thinking about taking your first solo vacation or enjoying a different type of adventure alone, below are 7 reasons solo travel is good for you.
1. Solo travel means you spend YOUR hard earned money and free time the way YOU want.
Everyone has one place they have been dreaming of visiting whether domestic or international. You may have been planning a trip to that destination for years. Sure, it can be fun to travel with friends or family. However, doing so means you must
be willing to compromise on the sites to see, where to eat and which lodging you choose. We all have friends and family who are inflexible and insist on spending every waking minute of a vacation joined at the hip. Some of them are control freaks who want the itinerary to be filled with everything they want to do without any real regard for your goals. Remember that you work hard for your money and time off from work. Your long-awaited getaway really should be about you. Don’t you want to return home and to the office as happy, refreshed and stress-free as possible? When you choose solo travel, you increase the opportunities to make sure you get the most out of your time spent at that dream destination or event.
2. Solo travel allows you to better absorb the culture of a place without the bias or negativity of a travel companion.
When you travel alone you are free from overly negative or overly positive commentary of travel companions. After all, you have a great mind of your own. You are perfectly capable of forming your own opinions without interference from other people. Have you ever traveled with someone who cannot let go of the comforts of home? Do they tend to see everything that is different about a new place as annoying or a problem? Solo travel frees you from that kind of negativity. It allows you to adapt to and accept a strange, new place and its customs based on your own feelings and experience.
3. It is easier to meet new people when you choose solo travel.
Whether you are outgoing or reserved by nature, it is easier to meet new people when you choose solo travel. Generally, we are less likely to strike up a dialogue with someone new when we are engaged in conversations with friends or family. Contrastly, we are less likely to be approached by other folks when we are traveling with our own tribe of people.
I cannot tell you how many new people I met and whose company I enjoyed when I was traveling solo. During a solo trip to Barbados, I met a group of flight attendants (men and women). They invited me to join them for dinner and dancing. Evidently, they stopped over regularly in Barbados for work. I was waiting alone at the resort’s bar for my table and they struck up a conversation with me. A few minutes later, my plans for the evening changed from subdued to boisterous!
A few years ago, I was traveling alone in Verona, Italy. An older, very handsome man approached me in the beautiful garden of a well-known restaurant there. He didn’t want to see me eating alone so he invited me to join his party of friends. Italians are all about enjoying meals with lots of friends and family. At first, I declined but he soon convinced me. I was so happy that I was open to the invitation. I spent the rest of the evening enjoying expensive wine from Bardolino, fantastic birthday cake and hours of laughter. Also, I was able to practice my Italian in a truly authentic environment.
4. Solo travel provides clarity for solving problems, making decisions or letting go of toxic situations or people.
You cannot and should not run away from life’s problems. However, solo travel can help give you the physical and emotional distance needed to gain perspective on your issues. I am a firm believer in putting yourself in the way of something beautiful as a way of acquiring clarity. There is nothing like a new skyline, ocean or mountains to remind us of how small and relative we are in the scheme of life. Walk down a street alone in a city you’ve never visited and reset your brain without the distractions of a companion. Mostly, solo travel provides the alone time you may need to decide what is important in your life. Have you ever felt better or gained perspective after taking a walk alone? Think of solo travel as an extending walk!
5. Solo travel improves your self-reliance, problem-solving skills, and flexibility.
In travel as in daily routine, shit happens. You need to be able to lean on yourself to deal with everything from unexpected, minor annoyances to more complicated ones. Solo travel provides the canvas you need to test out your survival skills, manage unexpected disappointments and control your temper. Can you make lemons out of lemonade on your own?
On a solo trip to Barcelona last year, I arrived jetlagged and hungry. Somehow, my smartphone got jetlagged on the flight, too During the first few hours there, I had no service at all. I was stumped and annoyed. However, I decided that I would grab some lunch and think about my next move. Once I was fat and happy, I found a device store on Passeig de Gracia and I asked the clerks to have a look at my phone. After an hour, they were stumped, too. As it turned out, Barcelona is not known for having widespread internet availability. There are limited Wi-Fi spots throughout the city and some of those can be patchy. Nevertheless, my phone got over its jetlag a few hours later as I did. It all worked out. I just had to have a little patience.
Flights and trains get delayed. Don’t let it stress you out. Relax and breathe through it or come up with another plan. Be flexible! You can call or e-mail ahead to hotels and let them know you will be arriving late. They will accommodate you.
I have traveled solo several times when a certain plan I had got unintentionally changed by weather, a discrepancy or a better opportunity. There are NO coincidences in life. It is easier to learn this lesson when you travel solo because your survival instincts kick in. Since you are traveling alone, you can be more flexible in dealing with these situations. Often, they turn out to be fabulous surprises.
6. Solo travel allows you to learn a little bit more about yourself than you knew before.
When you spend time alone, your experiences are deeper. Your senses are heightened. Since solo travel does not allow you to be distracted by the agenda or mood of a travel companion, you have more time to focus on what you truly like or don’t like. Sure, you can certainly have fun with a friend. However, I find that I learn more about myself when through solo adventures. For instance, I learned that I am way more patient than I ever believed I was, especially when things don’t go my way. When I am traveling with friends, I am overly conscious about making sure that they are happy.
On my trip to Barcelona, I discovered that, in fact, I really do like sardines! I sat alone at a beautiful table at Gresca and for the first time in 20 years, I realized that sardines can be delicious. I am not sure I would have made that menu choice had I been dining with a bunch of friends and we ordered things to share. The time I spent by myself allowed me to take some time to think and reflect a bit more about what I might like.
7. Solo travel helps you learn to enjoy your own company.
So many people never go anywhere or do anything fun without a friend or family member. As a result, they wind up missing out on their passions in life like travel, concerts, festivals, and restaurants. Do you really want to have those kinds of regrets? The more often you enjoy your passions solo, they more comfortable you become doing so. Trust me. No one worthwhile is judging you for enjoying a vacation or a night out on the town by yourself.
I have received compliments from family, friends, and strangers (read: new friends) for traveling, attending shows and dining out alone. I cannot imagine missing out on the things I love to do simply because no one is available or willing to join me. You should learn to be comfortable in your own skin no matter the situation.
So, get dressed. Pack that bag. Buy that concert ticket. Book that vacation. Make that dinner reservation. Accept that your own company is worth the pleasure of having.
ROAM. REVEL. REPEAT.