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Making the choice to travel solo was the scariest decision I ever made.
I started my solo travels in college after I studied abroad for six months in Seville, Spain.
I was nervous at first; I tried to plan everything and map it all out, which was helpful the first time.
But ultimately, I really didn’t have an actual plan and that’s what made that first experience so memorable, worthwhile, and rewarding.
Even, and at times, especially, as a woman, solo travel is the best way to have a real adventure. After that first trip, I have gone on a dozen or so other solo trips. I feel that travel itch when things are getting stressful at home, and I know that I need some serious alone time.
Taking the time to spend just by myself really helps me reconnect with what’s important to me, and really take care of my own needs.
SO here are my top ten reasons why you should embark on your next trip completely solo:
1. You get choose your destination(s)
It’s all about YOU! Where do you want to go? What do you want to see? Everything in your itinerary is completely up to you.
Beach, mountains, desert, city, country… all your choice. I specifically wanted to go horseback riding in Ireland, so I dedicated a whole week to that on my first solo trip. It was legitimately one of the best choices I ever made.
2. You get to make your own schedule
Maybe this is obvious, but scheduling your own day should be an essential reason to do things all on your own. Are you a morning person? Up early for coffee and museums before the crowds? Or do you prefer to sleep in and hit the museums during the lunch drag? Or maybe no museums at all? Let’s say you prefer to walk the busy streets at dusk or wander the jungle in the early light of dawn. It’s all up to you when you’re on your own!
3. You’ll meet and interact with more locals
When you have no one to turn to for the mundane and everyday conversation, or the questions about transportation or best coffee shops, you might have to turn to someone who’s from the area.
You may be at a hostel or hotel and ask other travelers, but if you practice enough and have a basic knowledge of the language, you’ll learn to want to turn to locals.
It helps build your conversation skills, your approachability, your empathy, and even your self-awareness. You learn more about the local culture, and about yourself every time you talk to someone who is not from the same background as you. And that’s worth it.
4. You learn what makes you tick… and click
So that train you missed? Your fault. That amazing ranchero you met on the motorcycle ride you took in desperation to get there in time? Also because of you.
Nothing about travel is ever simple and easy, but it can be rewarding and justifiable when you know it’s all YOU that got you there. Every choice you make has consequences, good or bad, they are there. And when you make them all for YOU, you learn what you want fast, and you learn what you need fast too.
5. You can ALWAYS make new friends
Wherever you go on your own, there are almost always other people as well. You can join groups, meet other solo travelers, and make some great connections. I love that I can be completely myself (or someone else) around others, as extroverted and quirky as I want to be. It’s especially fun if I’m in a city for just a night or two.
If I’m up for dancing, I bring that crazy dancing chick. The nerdy girl shows up for history walking tours, and the social media flirt shows up when I need a good Instagram shot. I make friends on the way depending upon the mood up in, but ultimately it’s all about the moment. You can cater it just for YOU and your needs!
6. You can make LIFELONG friends
Sometimes when I’m tired of putting on masks of different personalities I am legitimately just myself and that feels amazing too. It’s what I want to do most of the time, and in most of my travels that is who I am. Especially as I’ve grown up a little more;).
Throughout all of my travels, I have met people that I have genuinely connected with and could call on at a moment’s notice to lend an ear or a helping hand. Friendships over oceans are invaluable, and most of the best I made when I started out solo.
7. You develop your intuition
You have to read situations, people, and places all by yourself. Becoming aware of yourself is a primary goal, being aware of your surroundings and situation is a close second… and it is essential to being a good solo traveler. YOU have to protect you and be aware of the potential dangers, triggers, or unwelcome situations around you.
Obviously, you can structure your trip to avoid certain areas and people (taking a taxi from the airport, booking a single room or a dorm, not going to a bar after 9 pm, being within public transportation zones to popular sites, etc…). But even if you do this, things will come up that you are uncertain of and will need to make judgments on. The more practice with this you have, the better. And the more that you travel solo, the more practice you will get, naturally.
8. You’ll have monetary control over your experiences
Want to drop $200 on a cliff jumping experience? Do it. Want to only visit free museums and eat from street vendors? Also cool! You get to make the choices that fit your budget, big or small. You can splurge for a solo room at an eco-resort, or find a volunteer-based community porch-living situation at the same center.
Sometimes it seems like being a solo traveler can limit your options, but only if you don’t look hard enough. Keep an open mind and plan for what you want to afford. I’ve drug a sleeping bag onto a ship and slept in a rickety treehouse to keep costs down and you can too if that’s your jam.
9. You’ll learn to say NO more easily
Don’t want to stay out late at the next bar with that cool group you met? No problem. Don’t want to get up early for that commonly booked tour? No one will blink an eye! You get to say NO to the things you legit don’t want to do. No pressure, no obligations, no need to please or check off any lists of any person but YOU.
10. You’ll learn to say YES to you, your dreams and your gut
You get to make the choices of your dreams, follow the roads that call you, and learn to develop that inner sense of peace that comes with following the right path.
Learn to say yes to things that scared you, things that you would not have done before you started being a solo traveler.
Because once you travel the world alone: step on a train by yourself, stay in a stranger’s house on your own, hike a canyon path with no one but the eagles…
… then you can do anything.
So get out there and start your solo adventure travels! You won’t regret it!