Many people say traveling teaches you a lot of lessons. But I’ll go beyond it and say traveling alone assures you of plenty of learning experience. Whether it’s embarrassing or adopting a new habit to enhance your knowledge, there’s nothing quite the same as traveling alone.
It’s not unusual or uncommon to feel nervous or be scared to pursue solo travel all the time. That’s because we visit places that are new to us, uncertain of expectations despite our resourcefulness on research and preparation.
When you travel with a companion or be part of the group, you rely on each other; when you travel alone, you have to make the decision — or take the initiative such as ask guidance fro a stranger or decide on which way to go — because nobody else will do it for you.
However, being a solo traveler presents a unique set of advantages, not to mention that an enormous opportunity to learn.
Read on to learn more.
You are in control and make decisions
Despite that huge stack of responsibilities, traveling alone also means you are virtually in control when it comes to decisions to make. That’s because being alone also means you have the freedom to follow your desires.
How long should I stay in this city? Do I join a group tour or rely on guidebooks or mobile apps to explore attractions? Should I take public transport, hire a private ride or take a walk? Should I go scuba diving, surfing or sunbathing with cocktail drinks? Should I eat local specialties or stay with my preferred comfort food? Oh, I feel too lazy to wake up, so I can stay in bed without the pressure to take the hotel’s early breakfast buffet.
If you haven’t observed it, the only person you please is yourself (without feeling guilty) and no one else.
Who doesn’t want such a level of freedom?
Challenges build up your self-confidence.
Traveling solo can help build up your self-confidence. Just like someone battling stage fright on stage, being on a trip on your own is like training yourself to overcome obstacles — being prepared for whatever happens.
What if the flight is canceled or you got bumped off? What if your credit card doesn’t work? What if you get lost in a place where nobody speaks a language you know?
Staying at home and doing the usual thing is within your comfort zone and hardly pose any challenge. But if you climb the BridgeClimb in Sydney, ski for the first time at Swiss Alps or bungee jumping at Macau Tower, that’s a challenge that could be a life-changing experience.
Sometimes there are challenges during your holiday that require you to overcome them. Conquering these challenges boost your self-confidence, a personal characteristic you can apply in other aspects of life such as in a job interview, facing difficult clients at work or bargaining in a flea market.
You’re likely to meet more new friends.
Traveling with friends or family, we tend to stick together with them, leaving less opportunity to interact with others except for airline ground check-in staff, hotel concierge or tour guides.
But when you are alone, suddenly there are plenty of chances to engage with others. It can be someone seated next to you on the plane, a fellow participant in a tour group, fellow guests in backpacker accommodation or locals you meet along the way. You suddenly discover you’ve become more chatty and sociable than usual.
When traveling by yourself, you suddenly find yourself more inclined to interact with people whom you wouldn’t have approached if you are in the company of friends or family. They could be fellow travelers or local people introducing their culture through language like learning language basics, local food or traditions. Such immersive experience helps you understand and appreciate your journey.
The friends you meet can sometimes extend beyond the duration of your vacation, creating a wider network of opportunities in the process.
You gain new perspectives.
By spending more time observing your surroundings being alone than talking (or arguing) with your travel companions, you allow yourself to reflect on your goals and targets, career progression, planning for family and life in general. Seeing how people go about their daily lives, you get a sense of appreciation and contentment. Along the same lines, you get a deeper understanding of what you want and what you aim to be, thanks to the ample time to reflect on yourself more intimately.
Upon your return from the trip, you might realize you’ve been enslaved by your corporate life and wish to simplify it. You may be spending more time working confined in the office and now desire a career that interact more with people. You might also want to change the way you run your life — wake up earlier, incorporate a healthier diet, or plan on working or migrating elsewhere for a change in scenery.
You can save more money.
It’s a given than traveling is an expensive habit, regardless if you’re going for no-frills backpacking route or that luxury lifestyle. If saving some cash is what you aim while enjoying your journey, the presence of your travel companions could pose as a deal-breaker.
Your spouse wants to try that fancy restaurant and disagree with your cheaper street food option. Your friend wants to try that tourist trap attraction despite your advice, dragging you to spending in the process. Your partner wants to book that posh hotel so she can brag about it on Instagram. Your travel companions are not available to travel during the cheapest months even if it fits your plans. These examples are just some possible instances that force you to spend more and defeat your objective to save. Traveling alone could eliminate these issues.
That’s because when you’re alone, you can choose to take the cheapest alternatives in food choice, means of local transport, booking flights or selection of hotels (or prefer couch-surfing) if you wish to.
There are indeed plenty of advantages a solo traveler can enjoy. Besides those listed above, such travelers get to gain more knowledge, gain more confidence and get to enjoy the journey better with fewer hassles and no opposing ideas. Yes, you’ll make mistakes, but you the traveler learn from them and will continue to dictate the outcome and do things and craft your adventure at your convenience.