5 Benefits of Taking a Solo Trip At Least Once In Your Lifetime
When people think about traveling the world, they don’t necessarily envision themselves going about it solo. Maybe we’re thrilled by the idea of backpacking through Europe with our best friend from college, or we’ve dreamt of romantic nights with that special someone, strolling hand-in-hand through cobblestone streets beneath a starry sky.
So many of us want to travel—whether you need a vacation from work or you’re just itching to explore new sights—but we come up with a million-and-one excuses for why we can’t. Lack of time and money are common obstacles that are reasonable given the constraints of life. But one common excuse that you should erase from your vocabulary is the lack of company.
You don’t need companionship to turn your destination dreams into a reality! Just ask the quarter of all US millennials who plan on travelling solo this year. All you need is the brain between your ears and feet beneath your legs. Sure, it can be scary to venture out there alone, especially if you’re going to a foreign country. But we’d contend that solo trips are good for the soul and they offer distinct benefits that might make you want to think twice about a travel buddy and take your first solo trip.
Here are five reasons why to try solo travel:
Freedom of Choice
They say life is all about compromise—but it doesn’t have to be. Traveling with your friends or significant other requires everyone to contribute their two cents on where to go, how to get there, and what to do once you arrive. Chances are that you and your company share similar taste but traveling can bring out the absolute worst in people. Combine a few long nights with a lot of cramped spaces, and suddenly something so simple as dinner options could ignite World War III.
Consider the following quarrels and soon you might see the appeal behind taking a trip with a party of one:
Location. Desert or snow? Water or mountains? Foreign or domestic? Rather than grappling over the city or country everyone agrees on, just pick up your bags and go wherever is calling your name.
Transportation. Some people love road trips, others want to get from A to B as fast as possible. Whether you’re on a private jet or hitchhiking your way across the country, get there however you prefer on whatever schedule suits you best.
Accommodations. Your budget tends to dictate what type of lodging you stay in, whether that be a five-star boutique hotel, quaint bed and breakfast, or hostel in the heart of the city. Traveling solo means you can spend whatever you can reasonably afford without having to settle on a second-rate setup.
Activities. One person might vote for the museum and someone else for the nightclubs, while your preference is to hike the tallest peak to take in all the views. Chase the adventure in your heart and answer only to yourself.
Life has a ton of demands. There are weddings to attend, birthdays to celebrate, exams in class, and projects at work that fill our calendars and make it challenging to find time for travel. If it’s hard enough for just one person, imagine how difficult it would be for several people on different schedules to pick dates and plan a vacation.
The world is huge and there’s so much to see. If you wait around for someone to go with you any time you want to explore, you’ll definitely miss out on all that’s out there.
Once you decide to go alone, suddenly so many weekends become available to travel—do some research and choose the cheapest option. You can compare various dates before and after your desired departure to see what’s most cost-effective. For example, it’s usually cheaper to fly out on a Thursday versus a Friday and to return on a Monday versus a Sunday.
You have complete financial control and can find discounted travel deals that might not appeal to everyone else. One option includes waiting until the off-peak season in the winter when rates on rooms and flights are significantly better. Only want to attend free attractions? Nobody is protesting otherwise. If you want to spend next-to-nothing on food, then keep your money.
Taking a solo trip can also save you money in terms of housing costs. Renting a traditional apartment will cost you at least 30% of your income, whereas traveling and staying at affordable hostels or even in an RV or travel van can save you a pretty penny.
At the end of the day, solo travelers have the last word on every dollar spent, from taking the bus or renting a car, to how many nights to stay and when to go home.
One of the biggest fears people have about solo travel is the loneliness they think they’ll face at the end of each day. That couldn’t be further from the truth! If you talk to anyone who’s traveled the world by themselves, you’re guaranteed to hear amazing stories about the people they’ve crossed paths with from all walks of life.
Get that preconceived impression of hostels out of your head. It’s not like what you see in scary movies! Most hostels are actually very clean with plenty of amenities, and more importantly, host colorful travelers that have so much to bring to the table. You can learn about so many different cultures, hear new perspectives that you’ve never considered, plan day trips together, stay in contact over social media, and even coordinate future travel plans.
When you’re not at the hostel or hotel lobby, you’ll be out on the town forced to try your hand at a foreign language. Instead of relying on a friend to distract your boredom during a long train ride, you’ll seek human interaction with local strangers who can tell you the best places to eat or the secret gems to uncover. It’ll make your experience so much more authentic than a guided group tour with friends!
Independence & Introspection
That’s the biggest benefit to traveling alone: the forceful interaction with your environment. By constantly engaging with your surroundings, you focus so much more on the destination where you are versus the people you are with.
Solo travelers learn to be present in an all-new way and remember their experience in vivid detail. Their attention is absolutely concentrated on the people, places, and things around them. Practicing vigilance and keeping your head on a swivel inspires feelings of self-reliance and competency while practicing reflection expands your consciousness and makes you contemplate the vast meaning of life.
Many people who travel alone talk about the profound realizations and paradigm shifts they experience during their trip. Bring a journal to keep track of these thoughts and connect to yourself on a deeper level—it’s a great way to kill time, and the new relationship you form with yourself will prevent any feelings of loneliness from creeping in.
When you return home, you’ll see the world with new eyes, with greater appreciation, and a refreshed perspective. Share your journey with friends and family to inspire their own solo adventure, too!
About The Author: Samantha Rupp holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She is the managing editor for 365businesstips.com as well as runs a personal blog, sjruppy.com. She lives in San Diego, California and enjoys spending time on the beach, reading up on current industry trends, and traveling.