Why travel solo? Great question, glad you asked!
There are plenty of reasons to start thinking about setting out on your own:
- You are itching to see the world NOW
- Friends don’t have the time or money to join you
- Others aren’t thrilled with your destination choices
- You’re not getting any younger
Why travel solo? 7 reasons to plan your trip today
Once you actually start out, you’ll be glad you decided to go alone. By the time you’re back home, you may agree that everyone should travel solo at least once.
You’re on your own schedule. Get up at dawn to see the sun rise or sleep all afternoon so you can dance until sun rise. Spend as long as you like in a museum. Eat what you want. Take a day off. Your choices don’t have to please anyone except you.
People are friendlier. When traveling with another, you tend to stick together. Alone, you’re more open to what’s at hand. Locals talk to you. In Naples, a police officer invited me into his home so I could see what his wife makes for Sunday dinner. It’s also easier to meet other travelers, who can turn into friends.
You become more self-confident. It’s amazing how good self-reliance can feel. You get yourself to the airport, find a cab, check in at a hotel where another language is spoken. You learn to navigate a new city, try a new food, take the Metro. Bam! You got this! And once you’ve done it, you can do it again. And again.
The destination is more vivid. Because you don’t have anyone else to worry about, you can immerse yourself in your surroundings. Without distraction you can wander more, observe more. You’ll notice things like doorways, clotheslines, and how the light shifts during the day. Solo travelers draw less attention, so you can sit quietly while old men play cards nearby. Tiny vignettes will stick in your memory forever, I promise.
You are in charge of the money. Sure, you have a budget. Then you splurge on a silk scarf that you know you’ll wear forever. You make up for it by shopping at a grocery store for a few days and eating in your room. A concert pops up, and you pay for a ticket. Or perhaps you’re determined to only visit free venues. None of these are right or wrong. It’s your trip and your money. No explanations required.
Stories happen. Each day, you get to experience something new. See children walking to school, notice housewives chatting with butchers, watch lovers argue…and make up. Kim Foley MacKinnon says it well: “No story is too small. Every single person and place has something fascinating to tell if you just look hard enough.” All these stories belong to you; having a companion doesn’t make them better or more real.
You become a better traveler. When you travel solo, your perspective changes. Packing light becomes a top priority…no one else is going to schlep your luggage. That means your wardrobe becomes simpler. You learn to ask questions, to be more observant, and to get comfortable with making wrong turns. You understand what Responsible Travel means.
Need something to get your solo wheels turning? Until my e-book comes out later this year, get a copy of Lonely Planet’s Solo Travel Handbook.
Want to learn more about solo travel? Read these TravelSmart Woman posts?