Whenever I get the chance I love to travel. Honestly, I’ll go about anywhere just to see a new place. Sometimes I travel with people. Sometimes, as I did recently, I travel alone.
Traveling alone isn’t most people’s first choice. Extroverts (I assume) want to travel with family or friends to share the experience with someone and introverts (like myself) want to travel with companions to limit interactions with strangers (okay, sharing the experience can be nice too). But in this article, I want to speak in defense of solo travel and share why if you haven’t you really should give it a try.
Expand comfort zone
I’ll tackle the biggest obstacle first: your comfort zone. Traveling alone can seem scary. What if I get lost in the airport? What if people think it’s odd that I’m by myself? What if something goes wrong when I’m all by myself? What if people try to talk to me because I’m alone?
But getting out of your comfort zone can be one of the best things about solo travel because it gives you the opportunity to expand said comfort zone. The first time you fly alone you’ll probably be worried about getting lost in a strange airport forever, but once you do it you’ll realize that airports have really good signs, any employee can help you, and there are maps online if you get really lost.
If you’ve ever been alone trying to find a product in the grocery store then you can manage to find the giant gate at the airport, but your comfort zone will tell you that this is somehow much harder. By doing it anyway you can retrain your brain to realize that you are more capable than it wants to think and gain confidence for the future.
Take control of the booking
If you’ve ever tried to travel with a group of friends you can appreciate how hard that is to schedule and book. You have to find a time when no one has plans and everyone can take time off work, agree on a place to go, find a place to stay, book the lodging and get reimbursed by your friends, and get everyone to book the same or compatible flights. Everyone’s budgets also have to be considered and others may have more or less to spend on the trip than you.
But one of the things I love about traveling alone is that I don’t have to worry about any of that. I still have to find a time that I can take off work, a place I want to go, and a place to stay, but it’s much easier to find a time and place for myself than for a group, and I don’t have to worry about the trip falling through because someone can’t make it.
Once you arrive at your destination, one of the best things about solo travel is that you don’t need to coordinate sightseeing with anyone. I love being about to just explore the area at my own place and at my own whims. Group travel often requires a timetable and pre-arranged destinations but solo travel allows you to leave when you wake up, see whatever catches your eye, and return when you get tired.
Now I do still recommend having some schedule, a list of places you want to see, and making reservations in advance as needed, just to keep yourself on track and make sure everything goes smoothly. But when you’re by yourself there’s more flexibility to deviate from your plans however you desire and even have extra time in the schedule to use spontaneously.
Time for personal activities
Some things are better alone. You might have a different list, but for me three practices I prefer alone are photography, writing, and meditation. To expand even further, I would add reading, watching educational content like Skillshare classes, and sometimes just thinking. All of these things can benefit from the inspiration of doing them in a new location, but all of them can also be hindered by the presence of other people.
Take reading, something most people can probably relate to. If you’ve ever tried going to a park to read, or even just sitting on your porch, you know how relaxing it can be to find a new and peaceful location to read a good book. Even required reading for school is improved by a change of scenery. But if you’ve ever tried to read while hanging out with a group of friends you know how that distraction can make it almost impossible to read or study.
In the busyness of life, it can be so hard to have the time or take the time for these activities, but they can be wonderful for your mental health and personal development, and traveling alone provides a great opportunity to dedicate some time to them and gain some extra inspiration.
I could write so much more about solo travel but for now, I’ll abbreviate my thoughts here. If you want to hear more of my thoughts on traveling alone or other topics, though, follow along on the blog! You can subscribe to emails in the lower right corner, follow me on Instagram, or see the latest post any time at blog.emmettbudd.com/new