Paul has been a passionate traveler for over 35 years, and has visited many places and countries in North America, Europe, and elsewhere.
I've traveled widely over the past 35 years, and in my experience, the dynamic of a trip can be enormously affected by who you travel with. You can have a completely different trip depending on whether you visit a place alone, with a companion, or in a larger group.
Travelling solo can seem like an intimidating prospect, particularly for women who often have greater concerns over safety and security. However, when solo journeys go well, they can be very rewarding and even positively transformative.
10 Positives of Traveling Solo
Here are 10 positives of traveling unaccompanied.
- You Decide Your Destination and Route
- No Others to Argue or Fall Out With
- Room for Spontaneity
- Intensity and Adventure
- Improve Your Language Skills
- Easier to Keep to Your Budget
- Social Opportunities
- Know Yourself Better
- Escape Your Comfort Zone
- Build Self-Reliance and Self-Confidence
I explore each advantage in more detail below.
1. You Decide Your Destination and Route
Planning a trip without others can be a much quicker and easier experience. There is no need to seek compromises over spending or sacrifice any of your desired destinations or activities purely because companions have different ideas about where to go and what to do.
If you've not traveled solo before, it can feel very liberating to decide your own itinerary.
2. No Others to Argue or Fall Out With
One of the perils of traveling with others is that your trip can sometimes be ruined by disagreements or fallouts with others. In my experience, it can happen not just when traveling with people that you may not know that well, but also with close friends and family.
The truth is that the more people you travel with, the more chance that disputes will develop. Traveling alone reduces that risk to zero.
3. Room for Spontaneity
When you travel unaccompanied, you set the agenda regarding when and where you go. Last-minute changes to your schedule and itinerary are not as much of a problem when it's just you, so there's much more room for spontaneity.
You might want to change your route, stay at another hotel, eat at a different restaurant, spend the day on the beach, or go on a long bike ride. In short, you are not limited by the wishes or needs of others.
4. Intensity and Adventure
In my experience, traveling alone is generally more intense. The good times feel extra good and the bad times feel extra bad. This emotional rollercoaster may sound stressful, but it can actually be life-affirming, and the sense of excitement contributes to a greater sense of adventure. There is no reason to get bored or just end up going through the motions.
5. Improve Your Language Skills
If you travel to a place where the people speak a different language, you will learn way more if you go there alone, in my experience. If you go somewhere with others, there's often a laziness—a tendency to talk to your companions rather than reach out to locals or to rely on one of your fellow travelers to communicate with locals, especially if their language skills are better than yours.
6. Easier to Keep to Your Budget
The financial planning and spending involved when traveling are much easier to deal with when there's only yourself to consider. You can figure out how much you want to spend and stick to it.
Others may want to spend considerably more, or less, which can be very awkward when choosing things like transport options, hotels and places to eat.
7. Social Opportunities
When traveling with a companion or a larger party, the tendency can often be to not stray too far outside your immediate social group. Traveling solo can encourage you to mix more with other travelers and locals. I've also noticed that local people are sometimes more likely to be sociable towards unaccompanied travelers than they are with couples or groups.
8. Know Yourself Better
There are few things better than solo traveling for self-discovery in my experience. We all form opinions about ourselves, but many of these are based on our experiences within a very specific, familiar environment.
If we are transplanted to another place and culture, it can be challenging and ultimately rewarding to have our assumptions challenged and discover new things about ourselves.
9. Escape Your Comfort Zone
We all have a tendency to fall into mindless routines and ruts, and traveling can be a great way to break out of them. This is especially true if you go to a foreign country or have to deal with another language, in my experience.
Generally speaking, the bigger the difference between your travel destination and where you're from, the greater the culture shock, and the more mind-blowing the trip can be.
10. Build Self-Reliance and Self-Confidence
Traveling unaccompanied will push you into relying on your own resources and initiative. We can all get a little over-reliant on our regular sources of support, but even fairly mundane problems can require a degree of thought, imagination, and courage when you're in a strange place, especially if the locals speak a language that you are unfamiliar with.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Paul Goodman