Traveling solo sounds scary on paper. You’re alone, in a place you’re not familiar with, possibly even in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language. The first time I traveled alone, I was nervous and worried about a variety of issues – safety and loneliness come to mind – but I quickly discovered that traveling solo has a ton of benefits!
Here are the top 5 reasons that I love to travel solo:
You Can Do What You Want to Do
The Louvre was cool with my mom and sister, but way better by myself
The first time I went to Paris, I was with my mom and my sister. My sister was in middle school at the time and was not interested in the Louvre, so we dashed in, saw the Mona Lisa, and dashed out. The second time I went to Paris, I went by myself. I’m fascinated by art and I was excited to see the Louvre (especially that antiquities exhibit!), so I spent five hours there, exploring at my own leisurely pace. When you travel alone, you get to set the schedule. You wake up when you want, you do what you want, you eat what you want.
If there’s a place you’ve been dying to visit but nobody else seems to be interested, then go alone! You won’t have to worry about if your travel companion is having fun or dying of boredom. All you have to focus on is whatever you want to do and whether you’re having fun. And if you’re not, then mix it up and do something different!
When you travel alone, you have the freedom to control your own trip, so there’s no compromising with other people.
You Set the Budget
One of the hardest parts of traveling with others can be the budget and other monetary matters. When I travel with my friends, there are often discussions about what corners to cut. I’m fortunate enough to have a higher paying job than many of my friends, so I’m able to spend a bit more than my friends when we travel together.
Of course, like any good friend, I generally make my budget match my friend’s (hey, it’s good for my wallet, too!). Still, it can lead to some disappointments when an attraction you really want to see is out of your friend’s budget.
I always try to travel on a budget – I’m not staying at the Four Seasons – but I’ve also learned that the cheapest hostel isn’t normally my jam, either. I prefer private rooms or all-girl dorms, both of which often cost more. On the flip side, I generally like to take the cheaper public transportation options, but I’ve traveled with people who prefer Uber or Lyft, which is often more expensive. Both of these dilemmas mean that we’ve had to compromise, so I’ve stayed in some shifty hostels and taken some Ubers when I’d rather have not.
When I travel solo, I don’t have to think about what other people’s budgets are. I take public transportation and stay in nicer hostels. I’m able to splurge where I want to splurge and save where I want to save. Traveling solo allows freedom that you wouldn’t otherwise get, including with money matters!
Getting Single Tickets is Often Easier
Some must-see attractions sell out quickly, oftentimes before I even know I’m heading to that destination! Luckily, I found that getting single tickets is often way easier than buying even two tickets.
When Harry Potter and the Cursed Child started selling tickets for their previews, I didn’t pay any attention. Being a big fan, I had heard about it, but I had no plans on being in London anytime soon, so I didn’t even attempt to get tickets. Fast forward several months, and I had tickets to London for the tail-end of the previews, and I really wanted to see it. I was able to snag a single ticket, but my searches for even two tickets came up empty.
Traveling solo means that you only need one ticket, and getting that one ticket can be a lot easier than getting two or three or four. If one of your must-see experiences are hard to score tickets to, consider going alone.
You Can Go When You Want
If you’ve ever tried to coordinate trips with friends or family, you may have run into the scheduling issue. The “That weekend doesn’t work for me” or the “I can’t get time off then” one. If you want to travel with a group, it can be next to impossible to find a time when everyone can go. And if you can’t find a time, then you’re stuck making decisions about who to leave out or whether to go at all.
But when you travel solo, it’s a whole different game. When you get time off, you go! If you find a killer deal that’s only available for one weekend, you go! There’s no worrying about whether anyone else can go or feeling the need to delay the trip until everyone can go. You just go. Solo travel means you’re not bound to anyone else’s schedule. You go when it works for you.
Solo Travel Builds Confidence
Without a doubt, this is the biggest reason to travel solo. I was 20 the first time I ever went alone and it was an amazing feeling. When you come back, you may feel unstoppable.
And the best part? It prepares you for all sorts of problems you might face.
My first time I ever traveled solo, I got off at the wrong train station in Prague. I meant to get off at the main station, but panicked when I heard them announce Prague and got off at the first station, located quite a distance from the main part of the city. The directions to my hotel that I had found earlier were from the main station, so I had to improvise and figure out a way to get to my hotel.
But when a similar situation happened a while later while traveling in Portugal with friends, I was prepared. I knew what to do. And I had no doubt in mind I could do it – because I already had done it, alone!
The confidence you’ll feel after traveling solo is unlike any other type of confidence I’ve ever felt. I know I can handle my own problems, I can deal without what comes my way, because I’ve done it alone, in a foreign country. I don’t just feel more confident while traveling, but also while living my everyday life. It’s a souvenir that you don’t buy, didn’t ask for, but will absolutely love.