“ Why Traveling Alone Is the Greatest Way to Travel”
“WHAT? YOU’RE GOING WHERE? ALONE!?”
I recently returned home from a solo trip to Vietnam, and the most frequent topic of conversation surrounding my trip is why I decided to travel alone. It’s valid, and if I were in someone else’s shoes, I would ask myself the same question. Friends and family frequently asked questions such as, “Did no one want to travel with you? Why would you want to go alone? Aren’t you scared? Don’t you get bored? What happens if something goes wrong?” I’m writing this with the hope that within the next few minutes you can better understand my decision as well as the decisions of many others for traveling solo.
3 REASONS I PREFER TRAVELING ALONE
- I’m using the word alone, but in reality you’re hardly ever alone. Backpacking means traveling on a budget, so the best option is staying in hostels with as many as a dozen people sharing one room. Fellow travelers that you will encounter are mostly open-minded and are looking to meet new people, so making friends is simple. I recall a time when I checked into a hostel, and within 5 minutes I was headed out the door to have dinner with a group of people I had just met. Of course, there are many parts of this trip where I found myself alone in places such as airports, buses, and trains. For a week I was even on a motorcycle through the north of Vietnam. If I wasn’t taking public transit, I was usually exploring with others, unless I decided to do something alone.
2. Traveling alone allows you to get out of your comfort zone. I’ve learned a ton while backpacking, which is why I consider backpacking different than a vacation. Growing up, I was shy and awkward around new people, so solo backpacking has helped improve my confidence. I put myself in situations where I had no other option. Traveling solo forces you to walk up to people or sit down at a table with others and join in the conversation. But of course, you’re not even forced; meeting new people and hearing their stories is what makes backpacking truly an incredible experience.
3. Lastly, and I believe the most important point is, you get to do whatever you want! About two years ago, I went on my first backpacking trip to Thailand with a close friend. I was scared leaving the country for the first time and never imagined traveling alone. A few days into our month long adventure, everything changed. I met other backpackers traveling through South East Asia alone and became fascinated. From that point on I tried to spend as much time separate from my friend, and we eventually spent nights in different hostels. Wanting to separate was a mutual feeling because we both wanted to explore and learn new things. Our mutual feelings of wanting to travel alone had nothing to do with our friendship, and we are still friends to this day. I envied the spontaneity and freedom of others, and the freedom just to go somewhere new whenever. Near the end of my time in Vietnam, I was talking with a backpacker who just arrived from Taiwan. After a few minutes conversing, I found myself on Skyscanner buying a plane ticket to Taipei for the following morning. I didn’t have to consult with anyone or consider anyone else’s plans; I just did what I wanted to. My plan for Vietnam was to have no plan. I called it by ear, day by day. I would talk to fellow backpackers about the places they’ve been to and make decisions. I wanted to show up in a new city, have no place to stay and nothing planned. You don’t have that freedom to do whatever when you’re with someone else because you need to consider their desires. Now I know I sound selfish, but when else will I have the chance to be? When I have a career or family? I also yearn for extremes; I enjoy putting myself in new situations and figuring things out while also hoping everything works out. I was meeting dozens of people a day, so I would rather focus on getting to know new people. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared or nervous about traveling alone. Of course, I was, but the excitement of the awaiting adventure balanced out the fear.
“Negatives of Traveling Alone”
Traveling alone verses traveling with a friend means you don’t have someone with you that truly understands you. You don’t have a person to recall vivid memories with that lives in the same state because the people you shared experiences with live in all corners of the world. You have to be comfortable being alone and know how to enjoy that time. Truthfully it can get lonely, but in those times of silence is where I’ve learned the most. There’s also the fear of something horrible happening, like crashing a motorcycle in the mountains, getting your wallet or cell phone stolen, and if any of those situations happened to me, I’d be screwed.
For me the feeling of driving alone through endless mountains on the other side of the world is indescribable. I’m getting the chills just thinking about it. That’s why I prefer traveling alone.
So, be adventurous, watch your back, liberate yourself, and change your life!