Too many people keep postponing and disregarding their travel dreams because they don’t want to do it on their own. If you want to explore the world but don’t have someone to do it with, consider gathering the courage to do it alone! Trust me on this, you don’t have to be completely alone out there, there are plenty of people to meet on the road, and there’s nothing better for solo travelers than a fun montage of temporary companions throughout their trip.
Solo travel is almost a religious experience. Like meditation, it promotes relaxation and self-discovery. The independence gained by vacationing alone allows you to experience your destination exactly the way you want. Solo travel is intensely personal. You will discover more about yourself while discovering the world and culture around you. Traveling on your own is challenging, liberating, and invigorating, but can also be a lot of fun.
Being on your own has its ups and downs, but for me the pros far outweigh the cons. When you’re on your own, you’re flexible, independent and in control. Your time and budget are your own. It’s all up to you how much time to spend in a certain place, and what your daily means of travel and accommodation will be. When you travel with someone else, it’s like taking a little piece of home with you, so it’s natural to focus on your companion and unconsciously filter out some of the sights, sounds, and smells surrounding you. Traveling on your own allows you to be more present, and more open to your surroundings. You’ll meet more people, get a real chance to interact with the locals and sometimes appear more approachable, which makes it more likely to experience contact with strangers. You’ll be forced to practice the local language which does wonders to your learning curve by the way.
Of course, there are some downsides to traveling alone. Like the occasional dinner for one, and the fact that there’s no one helping you figure out the bus schedule, and no one to vent to when things get tough. Also traveling alone can be a little bit more expensive. Things can be cheaper when you’re splitting costs, such as accommodation, groceries, tours and taxis, so you’ll need to budget a little bit more. Plus there’s nobody to watch your back, or watch the luggage while you go off to buy train tickets. You may experience moments of loneliness and boredom, which can be both inconvenient and stressful.
In order to make your solo trip one to remember, here’s how you can properly prepare for it and take off confidently:
The more travel-friendly the accommodation, the easier it will be to make new friends. If you’re feeling lonely, head to a hostel, not a five-star hotel. Hostels are normally filled with solo travelers, many of them looking to make a friend or two to enjoy a beer with and share their stories.
Tours can be a great way to meet other travelers, especially walking tours. You don’t need to go off on your own discovering new places all the time, sometimes going on group tours can be rewarding and a lot of fun.
Travel communities, websites and apps can also be a good way to meet other travelers who are in the same destination as you.
Buy someone a beer! Start up a conversation! Even if you’re not outgoing at home, now is the time to start. Ask someone that looks like they’ve been there a while about cool things to see, and politely offer to help someone who just arrived, if you know the hotspots (in a non stalker kind of way). Talk to the locals. In some countries, guesthouses are staffed by young people who like making new friends from abroad.
Realizing that you have what it takes to be your own guide is a thrill known only to solo travelers. This trip can be a gift from you to you.