I meet so many people on my travels who are shocked to hear that I am traveling independently. I always get the same questions ‘aren’t you afraid to be by yourself? Don’t you get bored? What if something goes wrong?’. The truth is, I’ve always chosen to travel solo, only on a handful of occasions I have adventured somewhere with company. People have this stigma that those who travel alone run into all sorts of problems, get super lost, and have a terrible time, but that couldn’t be far from the truth! I’m going to tell you why it is so great to travel solo and why you need to do it at least once in your life.
You can do what you want when you want
You don’t need to worry about FOMO (fear of missing out) when you are traveling by yourself, or go through the conversation of ‘what do you want to do… I don’t know what do you want to do’. You can sleep in if you feel like it, go to that museum you’ve heard a whole lot about, try weird foods that others wouldn’t even dare look at, spend as much or as little time shopping or wandering through old buildings – you are totally free! You don’t have to worry about pleasing someone else and doing things that aren’t on your bucket list, you can explore however you please!
You are more likely to get upgrades and free things
Upgrades on flights and accommodation are a very rare commodity, however they are more likely to occur if you are riding solo – they are more than likely to give out one business class seat over two! I’ve also noticed when I’ve been out at restaurants, particularly in Europe, by myself and I strike up a conversation with the waitstaff, they are more likely to hand out a free glass of wine or dessert for you to experience that comes from their area!
You meet the kindest people
People are more likely to help foreigners if it is just you over a big group of you – particularly in Asia. Getting lost is an inevitable fate when traveling, and I have gotten lost that many times I have now lost count, and people have gone out of their way to help me find where I need to be. I was lost in Bangkok on my second day in Thailand and this man came and asked me where I wanted to go and he wrote everything down for me, with suggestions on places to go and foods to try. He was so proud of his country and happy to share his knowledge with me. You also meet fellow travellers when asking someone to take a photo for you, and I have had a few good nights out with people who have taken typical tourist photos for me.
You make life-long friends
Everywhere I have ventured solo I have always made the most incredible friendships that last to this day, even though they live on the other side of the world, or even the other side of Australia. You are more likely to talk to the locals or other travellers than sticking to your group of friends – you might even pick up the local language! I have made friendships so strong that I now travel over 4000km at least twice a year to catch up. I met a girl through my European adventure in 2011 where we just connected instantly, and now in January 2017 I get to stand beside her as a bridesmaid in her wedding in England!
As cliche as it sounds, it changes you as a person
In all the good ways! You discover who you really are, what you are capable of, and who you want to be. I know it is cliche, but it is entirely true. You grow in confidence, become more sure of yourself, and really find your own feet.
So next time you question whether or not you should travel solo, just get out of your comfort zone, take a leap, and just do it! I promise you you won’t ever regret it.