Going on a memorable trip is nothing short of magical. Experiencing other cultures and getting out of your comfort zone is something everyone should experience. But sometimes it can be difficult to plan a trip when your friends and family are busy, or don’t have the money to travel. Often times, we find ourselves relying on the availability of other people to gain the courage to go on a trip. That’s why travelling alone is always a good option. In this article I’ll answer the question: why should you travel alone?
Travelling alone allows you to experience the world from your own perspective. You don’t have to coordinate with your friends and family about what to do and when to go. Most importantly, travelling alone allows you to meet new people and experience things you wouldn’t have if you had went with a group.
A few years ago, I embarked on my own solo trip through Europe. While there were definitely some hiccups along the way, I wouldn’t have done my trip any other way. I met new people and did things that pushed me outside of my comfort zone. I gained a sense of independence and self confidence that is still with me today. That trip changed my life, and much of the fun that I had would not have been possible if I had went with a group of friends. Below I talk about the benefits of travelling alone, so you can decide if a solo trip is right for you.
You Can Meet New People
This is easily the best part about travelling alone. Going on a trip with friends can be a great time, but it’s less likely you will be motivated to meet any locals or fellow travelers. You are more likely to stick with the group you are travelling with, instead of going out of your way to meet new travel buddies.
When you travel alone, you are forcing yourself into a situation where you have to meet new people. This can be scary, and it turns a lot of people away from solo travelling. But if you can deal with a little bit of solitude, you will certainly meet new people on your solo trip.
The best way to do this is to stay in hostels. Hostels are intended to be social hubs that encourage you to have fun with fellow travelers. Typically, you will pay a small fee for a bed in a room with a few other roommates. I have stayed in rooms with only one other traveler, up to about 16. Not only are hostels cheap, but they are filled with other like-minded travelers who are looking to meet new people. For between $5 and $40 a night, you can meet people from across the world in a comfortable (and usually clean) environment.
Many hostels will have common areas where travelers will hang out and tell stories. Some even have a bar in the lobby where you can grab drinks with your new friends. It’s also common for your roommates to introduce themselves, which often sparks a dialogue that can lead to a new friendship. During my past travels, I would often meet new friends in my hostel and we would go out later that day and explore the city we were staying in.
If you are worried that you won’t meet anyone and spend the majority of your trip in solitude, I can assure you: you will meet new people on your solo trip. This isn’t wishful thinking, it is a guarantee. In fact, at the end of my last solo trip, I was so exhausted from meeting new people that I began exploring cities by myself.
That’s not to say you won’t occasionally feel lonely on your solo trip. Loneliness is a normal part of the adventure, and it’s likely that you will experience it at some points during your journey. But you can find comfort in knowing that there are literally thousands of other travelers out there aching to meet new people and have the experience of a life time.
You Get to Do What You Want
The second best thing about travelling alone is that you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. If you’re independent like me, then you will love this.
I’ve done big trips with groups before, and you just don’t get the same freedom that you do when you travel alone. When you’re with a group, everything you do must be carefully planned and mutually agreed upon. When you travel alone, you can literally do anything at any given moment. You could roll out of bed at 11am and sit in a park for a few hours. You could wake up at 6am and start exploring, without having to worry about anyone oversleeping. You could join in on a pub crawl and stay out drinking with a group of rowdy locals until the early morning. The world is your oyster.
The sense of freedom you get from solo travel is really understated. There is no feeling quite like it. Once you get over your initial jitters and fears, you will feel more free than you ever have in your life. You will have no responsibilities to other people, you can just be yourself.
You Don’t Have to Plan
This one isn’t for everybody. If you like to plan your trips then that’s great, you can still do that on a solo trip! However, if you hate planning, a solo trip will allow you to have the most under-planned trip you could have ever dreamed of.
If you travel with other people, you are going to need to make sure everyone is in agreement on dates, destinations, and prices. There may even be some disagreements that turn into arguments, which can put a damper on the trip.
When I went on my first solo trip, the only thing I had planned was a rough itinerary of the cities I wanted to visit, and a few big things I wanted to do (visit the Eiffel tower, go to a soccer game, hike in the alps, etc.). Beyond that, I didn’t have a clue oh what my day-to-day would look like. I was very much winging-it.
In my opinion, having nothing more than a loose plan is the best way to do a solo trip. It allows you to make changes and it lowers expectations. If I was dead set on making it to the Neuschwanstein castle in Germany, and I never did, I might have labelled my trip as a failure. But since I didn’t have a strict plan to adhere to, making it to that castle was not the end all be all, and I didn’t particularly care that I missed it.
Also, not having a plan allows you to feel true freedom. You will not be a slave to your itinerary if you only have a loose structure. You could literally wake up one day and decide to switch countries, no big deal. Deciding to get on a train and just simply go to another country is maybe the coolest feeling in the world.
Maybe you don’t like the city you are in? Then you can leave. Maybe you don’t like your hostel-mates? Then get the hell out of there. Maybe you’d rather grab a bottle of wine and watch the sunset instead of going to that museum? Then do it! There is no one that can tell you otherwise.
The main point I was trying to make in each of these paragraphs is that solo travel gives you more freedom than any group trip. Sure, it’s scary as hell, but it is one of the most rewarding experiences you can ever have.
If you are in the mood to shake things up and you would rather go on a trip than a vacation, then a solo trip is right for you.