Traveling by yourself may seem scary, but everyone (especially women!) should try it at least once. Here are all the reasons you should absolutely travel solo.
Traveling solo is easily the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. It’s boosted my confidence, taught me to value experiences over things, and so much more. But despite how much solo travel has positively affected my life, I’m horrible at articulating just how much it’s impacted me when questioned by curious friends and family. For instance, I was talking to a close friend the other week who was saying that she was thinking about taking a trip by herself, but was too nervous to book the flight tickets. When she asked what prompted me book solo trips time and again, I lamely responded, “I just love traveling alone!”
Ugh, Claire, c’mon! Traveling by yourself means so much more to you than that! Even though I get asked this question often, I wind up giving the same lame response each time. It’s similar to when someone asks me what my favorite book is — it’s like I suddenly can’t remember a single book I’ve ever read, despite the fact that growing up I could easily plow through a book a week. Do you know what I’m talking about?
The point here is that you should travel by yourself, and there are so many reasons why. I’d really love to see more women traveling alone. Although solo female travel is slowly gaining popularity, there’s still so much fear and stigma around women taking trips alone. If you or someone you know is thinking about taking their first (or tenth!) solo trip, here are a handful of reasons they absolutely should buy that plane ticket. Bookmark this post for later so you don’t wind up spouting weak reasons to travel solo like yours truly has been prone to doing.
You’ll learn lots of soft skills
So many of the skills that you acquire when traveling by yourself are soft skills, such as learning to deal with travel mishaps and lost luggage, being able to navigate foreign subway systems, asking for directions when you don’t speak the local language, and dealing with frozen credit cards while overseas. I’d never list any of these things on my resume, but these seemingly insignificant skills add up and have shaped me into the woman I am today. The soft skills I’ve picked up while traveling alone complement the skills I need for my everyday life, and overall make me a more well-rounded person.
You’ll become more assertive
One of the things that takes some getting used to when you first start traveling alone is being the sole decision maker. Sure, getting to do whatever you want while traveling sounds like total freedom, but when you’re faced with actually having to figure out every little aspect of your trip it can be overwhelming at first. But after you’ve booked a few hotels on your own and planned a few solo itineraries, you’ll get used to making major decisions by yourself. As I started traveling more and more on my own, my ability to make decisions on the fly slowly trickled into other aspects of my life — team projects, schoolwork, planning my weekly meal plan, everything. Not only has solo travel made me more assertive, it’s also helped me stop second-guessing myself, which has been such a blessing this past year as I’ve been growing my freelance business.
You can do what you want to do
Probably the most obvious perk to traveling alone is the fact that you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. You don’t have to adhere to anyone else’s schedule, and you can structure your days however you’d like. Personally, I find solo travel incredibly relaxing for this very reason. If I’m traveling with someone besides my immediate family (i.e. mom, dad, or brother), I find that I get a little antsy during the trip. I’m always wondering if my travel companion is really having a good time, or if they’re just telling me that because they’re secretly so annoyed with me. And if I’m not worried about the other person having a good time, I’m slightly irritated with them about something (usually something stupid and small that I’m only noticing because I’ve been with that person for so many days in a row without a break).
If the thought of having total freedom to do whatever the heck you want sounds kind of scary to you, I recommend writing out a detailed itinerary for your whole trip before you leave home, that way you can limit the number of last-minute decisions and hopefully have a stress-free trip.
You’ll become a better problem solver
Problem solving is one of those soft skills I was talking about before. The fact of the matter is that no solo trip ever goes perfectly according to plan. When I traveled to London in college, my plane arrived well after midnight and the Tube was no longer running. My phone didn’t work in the UK and I didn’t bring my laptop with me, so I had to figure out how to get from the airport to the other side of the city by myself, in the dark. I wound up paying 90 pounds for a taxi ride (which I deemed the safest mode of transportation at that time of night), and once I returned back home I then filed a complaint with the airline and asked for a refund for my expensive taxi ride. This is just one of the many challenges I’ve faced while traveling alone. At the time, it didn’t feel like that big of a deal, but these kinds of experiences have made it easier to figure out everyday issues at work and home.
You’ll gain self-confidence
I’m lucky in that I’ve always been a fairly confident person, and solo travel has only strengthened that. Yet again, it’s all those unlikely skills that you pick up from traveling by yourself that add up to equal a major boost in self-confidence. I also think meeting new people abroad has helped increase my self-confidence. It’s so easy to believe that you’re not very interesting or that your life is boring or what have you, but when you meet new people on your travels it suddenly feels like your life is so much more interesting. Nothing about your life situation has changed, but moments like having a Canadian barista tell you how much they’ve always wanted to visit the States, or a native New Yorker saying how excited they are to finally visit Chicago — the city you grew up 3 hours from — puts a new spin on your life story and makes you reevaluate what you’ve got going on in your life. And that in turn makes you feel more confident and secure in who you are and where you’re from.
You’ll learn how to be alone
The idea of being alone for days on end turns most people off of traveling by themselves before they even try it. I won’t lie and say that learning how to travel by yourself and enjoy your own company is easy for everyone. I’ve had some friends fall in love with solo travel right away, and others needed to take a few trips alone before they grew to enjoy it. But learning how to be alone without feeling lonely is so important. For me, learning to be alone has meant learning how to deal with the anxiety and stress that comes from working for myself, both while I’m abroad and at home. What started off as me learning how to keep myself entertained while eating at a restaurant has slowly grown into me learning how to focus on the present moment and take in the new sights and sounds of the city I’m visiting and not on the to-do list I have waiting for me back in my hotel room.
You’ll become more flexible
Between flight delays, unpredictable weather patterns, and last-minute day trips, you get pretty used to going with the flow while you’re traveling alone. The flexibility you adopt when away from home seeps into all aspects of your life and will make you less prone to stressing about the little things. I wish I could say that solo travel had made me an ultra laidback person, but, alas, ya girl still gets stressed about stuff. But I find that my rebound time is much quicker and I’m able to recenter myself more easily when I’m feeling stressed. I learned very quickly that I need to be willing to throw my hands up and stop trying to control everything when I’m traveling. When I try to force things to go exactly as planned, I find that I don’t enjoy my travels as much and wind up returning home a little burned out.
You can travel at your own pace
Most sane people will read this subheading and think about all the relaxing vacations they can take by themselves. Not me. Traveling at my own pace means walking at a breakneck speed with no one 20 feet behind me complaining that I’m going too fast (what can I say? I walk with purpose!). I love that I can take a break whenever I want to, walk however fast or slow I feel like, and order anything I want to off the menu when I’m by myself. It’s nice to have complete freedom to be as lazy or go-go-go as I feel like, with no on to tell me otherwise.
Your friendships will become stronger
I’ve found that traveling alone has actually deepened many of my friendships. Although I enjoy exploring solo, I like to call home most nights to tell friends about my day. After a few solo trips, I noticed which of my friends eagerly asked for details about my travels and texted me to make sure I arrived at my destination safely. You wouldn’t think that putting physical distance between myself and my friends would strengthen our friendship, but it has. Their concern for my safety while abroad and genuine excitement to hear what I got up to made me want to pour love straight back into them in the form of postcards from my travels and Skype sessions with them. I think because I travel so much, it’s forced both my friends and I to have an active friendship, rather than fall into the trap of assuming we’ll be friends forever without really putting out energies into our relationship.
Tell me: What’s the main reason you’re interested in traveling by yourself?
Love Solo Travel? More posts to read:
- 10 Useful Tips for Taking Your First Solo Trip
- How to Keep Money Safe While Traveling
- 15 Common Solo Travel Mistakes to Avoid
- How to Deal with Homesickness While Traveling
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