5 Reasons I Love to Travel Alone
For many of us, travel is the ultimate way to spend time and money. Taking in all of the sights and cultures that the world has to offer is always a deeply formative experience, and often our most treasured memories will be from holidays and road trips.
Travelling with company can be wonderful, sharing expectational experiences with the people we love most in the world. It can also be quite astonishing stressful.
So, what about travelling on your own?
Just you, the world, and the compass of your desire.
Here's why you should give it a try.
1. You’re in control.
The obvious benefit of travelling alone is that you are in complete control over where you go, what you do, and how you chose to live on the way. There aren’t many other areas of life where you can exercise such universal jurisdiction over your own life.
Think about it. When you're at home, the very least you have to do is turn up to work. Most of us will also have familial and friendship responsibilities on top, as well as cleaning, cooking, and various other kinds of general housework.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
Even the simplest life is saturated with chores when you’re at home. The same cannot be said when you're on the road on your own.
Travelling alone means that, aside from finding things to do and making sure you have enough money to buy food and lodging, your responsibilities are almost non-existent. You can just… go. No strings attached, nothing tying you down. You can hop from place to place as you see fit, bound only by your passport and your wallet.
There is peace in such control over one’s life that cannot be overstated. It feels as if you are finally the driver in the vehicle of your life. You speak only when you want to, see what it is you want to see, and experience everything on your own terms, untempered by day to day necessities beyond those that keep you alive.
Basically, there is no truer freedom.
2. You learn responsibility like never before.
Being in control is all well and good, but with that comes total, unwavering responsibility. When travelling alone, nothing will happen unless you make it happen. Nobody will give you anything unless you seek it out.
Your food, accommodation, travel, and activities will be run by you and you alone. If you pull it off, life will probably be pretty perfect. If you mess up, however, then there's no one else to blame and it's you who will have to clean up after yourself. You have to take the rough with the smooth, because it's all down to you.
If ever there was a surefire way to learn responsibility, travelling alone is it. It’s one of the many reasons why young people who take gap years so often return having matured by much more than 12 months would usually allow. Having total and utter responsibility for yourself is terrifying, but it can also be absolutely fantastic.
3. You meet wonderful people (and will probably never see most of them again).
When we travel with others, it can be all to easy to become absorbed into conversation and interaction with our fellow travellers, missing opportunities to meet new people along the way. This isn't always the case, of course, but it does happen.
When travelling alone, however, making new friends and meeting new people is a must if you want to stave off loneliness. You don't have to be constantly looking for your new BFF, but striking up a conversation with a stranger at a bar or event will, more often than not, be better than just sitting there alone.
I have met some extraordinary people while travelling alone, and have allowed them to show me some of the best adventures of my life thus far. Spontaneity and a willingness to interact with new people will make your travels all the more interesting.
There is, however, one truth that you should know before you set off. You will meet some amazing people and will probably have amazing experiences with some of them. But just know that, however much you intend to, you will probably never see most of them again.
You’ll trade phone numbers after a magical night or an incredible, out-of-the-blue adventure, of course. You might even meet up with them a few more times while you are still around. But, for most of these short-lived connections made on the road, contact will eventually fade.
When you're constantly meeting new people, you cannot expect to stay in touch with all of them. Hold on to the memories of adventures and experiences, and try not to be too disheartened if you do lose touch over time.
You might get lucky and keep hold of some of those connections. You might even meet a life-long friend, or even your soulmate, while travelling on your own. It’s great if you do. But not everyone will be part of your life forever, and that's ok.
4. Home doesn’t look so bad anymore.
I love travelling. I hate staying in one place for too long and I make every effort to avoid doing just that. That doesn't mean, however, that I don't like coming home.
Being at home can be frustrating. The monotony of the day to day, in a seemingly never-ending cycle of work, eat, sleep, socialize, repeat. It’s boring and, for the most part, we grow to hate it. We become restless and agitated by our living situation and start to crave nothing more than change. A change of scenery, a change of culture, a change of pace. Just a change of one sort or another to reignite our enthusiasm for life.
So, we go.
We go and travel and see the world, allowing the wonders of its seemingly infinite shores to wash over us and heal our deep-seated boredom. For a while, everything is magical and thoughts of home drift away on cool breezes and sunbathed waves.
Until, one day, home starts to call. A whisper at first, but getting louder and louder as the days go by. Nothing to be concerned about, there is no desperation to return to your day-to-day life, but the desire is there. Home, or at least some aspects of it, still has something to offer you.
Travel is incredible, but there is a stability to home that becomes clearest when you're on the road. Most of us will have friends and family to return too, or roots in our home town or country, that call to us when we are away. Travelling alone can be a lonely experience at times, and in your more reflective moments, you may find yourself realizing that in between the stresses and irritations of daily life at home there are also things that make you happy to live there.
If you’re an avid traveller, you still probably won't be able to be comfortable at home for long, but at the very least you will appreciate that you have a home to return to, even if it's just for a few weeks at a time.
5. You are accomplished.
There is pride in travelling alone. When I was making my way through Europe on a solo road trip, many people expressed their surprise and admiration for the fact that I was undertaking such a journey on my own. I bounced from city to city, country to country, and yet the reaction rarely every changed. The most common responses, variations on which I have heard all over the place, were —
‘I wish I could do that,’
‘ I could never do that.’
Undertaking solo travel is more than just an adventure, it’s a challenge. A test of your character, your resolve, and your willingness to dive in headfirst when opportunity knocks. People know this, and they respect it.
The feeling of accomplishment that washes over you when a harebrained travel scheme actually works, or when you take that first sip of a drink in a city you've always wanted to visit, is incredible. To have achieved such things all on your own, with no help or support, is one of the greatest self-confidence boosts in the world, and it is a confidence that stays with you, even after you have returned home.
The world is a classroom, and travelling alone is the hardest subject to master. But, once you do, your qualifications will be enough to take you almost anywhere.
Travelling on your own is something that stays with you for the rest of your life. The experiences you have will never desert you and will make for exciting stories, told for many years to come.
There are downsides to travelling alone, of course. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. It can be more stressful than group travel, more dangerous, and occasionally quite lonely. However, when done right, it can also be life-changingly amazing.
So, with all that in mind, the rest is up to you. I hope you take up the call and head out on your own adventure.
I hope you have the most incredible time.