Once you make the life-changing decision to travel, reality sets in fast. Before you know it, you are making plans, booking flights, and anxiously wondering Can I really do this alone?
Yes. You can. But you don’t have to.
After many years of traveling with friends, family, boyfriends, and alone, I am a strong advocate for solo travel.
Before you rush off to dump your travel partner or immediately disown my blog, hear me out for my reasons why.
1) Meeting People
When you travel with friends, you tend to stick with them—they become your comfort zone. Two people appear more intimidating to approach then solo travelers. Couples are even less approachable—who wants to be a third wheel?
When you’re alone, people will go out of their way to talk with you. Similarly, you will find yourself opening up out of your shell and welcoming new single travelers, just as you were welcomed. Trust me, you won’t be alone for long.
2) Doing What You Want
This is your vacation—your time to do exactly what you want. Whether that means lying on the beach, shopping downtown, or taking tours, being alone gives you the freedom to do exactly what you feel like doing every single day.
When you travel with someone, you will be together 24/7. You won’t have work or other friends to distract you. You will have to compromise. You will get into disagreements and pick stupid fights. You will grow closer and more dependant on one another. Whatever happens, I can guarentee your relationship will never be the same.
3) Learn, Grow, and Change
When you take the world by storm alone, you will change. You will be forced to spend long hours alone, so you will learn to be someone that you like. You will begin to depend solely on yourself. You will learn to find good deals, cook good meals, and discover exactly what you want in life. You will learn how to blend immature entertainment with mature responsibility. You will meet people from all corners of the globe. You will experience authentic culture. You will have backpacker flings and make life-long friendships. One thing is for sure—you will not go home the same.
That being said, there are two sides to every story. I find it only fair to acknowledge the difficulties that accompany solo travel.
There will be some times when you find yourself alone – whether in a tram crammed with strangers or on a picnic by yourself. When a stunning sunset hits the skies or you catch a glimpse of something hilarious, you will find yourself wishing you had someone there to share the moment with. When the hostel is empty in the off-season or no one wants to accompany you to the museum, you can find yourself feeling frustrated and insignificant. You will want to be around people who already know and love you. You’ll miss your friends, family, and the familiarity of your home country.
However, as I mentioned before, this time alone is good for you. You will become stronger. You will face loneliness and homesickness, but then you will pick yourself up, step out into the sunshine, and move on.
When you enter a new city, you will find yourself struggling to lug your bags to your seemingly non-existent hostel. You will ask strangers for directions, double-check with the bus driver, and probably still end up lost. If you go out at night, you will have to find your own way back. When you want to move on, you will have to research and purchase your flights by yourself. You will have to find your ride at the crowded bus terminal and jump on your train at the station before it whisks away without you. And, when you do miss some form of transportation, you will have to figure out what to do next. Your daddy’s not there to come and get you when something goes wrong.
However, if you are a directionally-challenged person, you will become familiar with maps. You will begin to recognize street names and landmarks. At the end of your trip, you will have stronger memories of exactly where you were because you had to navigate it all yourself. If you don’t have common sense or street smarts, you better learn them quick if you intend to stay. It will be hard, but in the end, it will be good.
The final decision is up to you. Don’t be afraid to travel alone. If you are still keen on going together, please do! The bottom line is that you need to do exactly what you want. This is your life, your choice, your grand adventure. Enjoy it!