Solo travel seems to be becoming more and more popular these days (or at least more widely accepted) and there is a a good reason why. After my recent 2-month backpacking journey solo traveling across Europe I can say from experience that it is an incredible way to travel through both the good times and the bad.
You meet new people (more than if you traveled in a group)
Groups are less approachable than single people. So by default you will attract significantly more people when you travel by yourself. This also forces you to start talking to people since at some point you will be dying for some solid social contact. Those strangers next to you at the bar? They could be your best friends for the next few days if you just strike up a conversation. Isn’t the point of traveling to expand your mind and see the world? Meeting people around the world, whether it be other travelers or locals, will teach you more about cultures than you could ever learn hanging out with your best friends that you have known for years.
Anything is possible
Get invited to hang out on a billionaire’s yacht in Italy? Go for it! You have no one else to worry about but yourself when solo traveling leaving you free to accept or decline any invitation that feels fitting. Do whatever you want because no one is going to tell you can’t (unless of course you’re breaking the law, then you should probably rethink your motives).
Learning your capability
I planned and executed an entire 2-month trip. By myself. Most of which was a vague idea of a trip before I even arrived. There were multiple nights where I was unsure where I was going to be sleeping the next night. While at first that scared me, I soon found out that no matter what everything would be alright. I always managed to make everything work and catch every train. If you put your mind to it, you can do anything. If you still don’t feel confident in your abilities, here is an article to help you conquer your solo travel fear. 😉
It does get lonely
I can’t tell you the number of times that I wish I had someone there to share a moment with me. The ridiculous things I saw that I had to laugh at by myself. Or even better, whenever I made a fool of myself and had to laugh with strangers. Like the time I tried to go under a line divider with my backpack on, forgetting the size of it towering over me, and completely fell on my ass in the middle of a London train station. I cracked up laughing while most people looked at me concerned or giggled slightly.
Probably the worst part about solo traveling is eating alone. I felt I missed out on some great restaurants simply for the fact that I didn’t want to sit at dining table by myself. Instead I opted for restaurants that primarily had bars or cafes where it was common to sit by yourself. It’s important to find something comfortable when you feel nervous about something. For me, this comfort ended up becoming Irish pubs. Almost every city has a few and they tend to be a gathering place for English-speaking expats. Though the food varieties weren’t quite as authentic as if I were dining at other restaurants, it almost guaranteed that I would find people to talk with and gave me a comfortable environment to eat in.
No one is there to take that perfect photograph
So many amazing photo opportunities arise while traveling. Being able to take the perfect picture? That’s the rough part when traveling solo. Handing your camera to a stranger sadly rarely turns out how you dream it will. Especially if you happen to break your camera screen halfway through the trip leaving only a sliver of the screen for said strangers to look at like I did. Needless to say, everyone who tried to take pictures for me looked as if they were having a panic attack without being able to see what they were snapping away at. My advice is to either find someone who has a nice camera in their hands (they will likely be better at taking photographs), bring a tripod, or find a a ledge to set your camera on.
Though there are definitely down sides to solo travel, I would do it all over again in a heart beat. In fact, I’m already picking out the destinations for my next trip by myself. So what if I end up eating at too many Irish pubs, don’t always get the perfect picture, or have to laugh by myself sometimes. The benefits outweigh the negatives. The hard times will teach you lessons and the good times will give you memories that will last the rest of your life. After two months traveling to 8 countries on my own I can confidently say that I would not trade that experience for anything.
Solo travel will leave you feeling fearless, so don’t be afraid to just go for it.