So why should you take a vacation at some point, completely by yourself?
While it’s great fun, comfortable, and often preferable to travel with someone to whom you are close and to share the experience of the trip, there is something equally valuable and important about the experience of traveling alone.
I believe everyone should take at least one solo vacation in their lifetime, for a minimum 3–4 days (though for the truly daring, longer).
This suggestion comes from the perspective of someone who bought a one-way ticket to the Czech Republic on a whim. Knowing no one, nor speaking the language, and without a job lined up. The plan was to move there for one year and teach English, as well as travel.
Four years later, I was still there.
Building a significant and enriching life overseas. This life including writing a travel blog, which garnered not insignificant readership, and traveling as much as possible (both solo and with friends), wherever my meager paycheck would allow.
Here are the reasons I offer for why everyone should travel solo:
- Total personal freedom. Instead of having to plan and coordinate your travel itinerary/interests along with at least one another person’s desires, when traveling alone, it’s 100% up to you! You can eat wherever you want and when you feel like it. You can go and see what you would like. If you yearn to linger in that cafe for 3 hours, people-watching and reading a great book, then do so. If you want to take on that strenuous mountain hike, you can. If you feel like lounging on the beach or in a park for a few hours and just doing nothing, that works too. If you wish to wile away the day shopping or in a museum, go for it! There is something invigorating, truly delicious, and joy infusing about being about to wander and do what you will, entirely at your own whim, without a schedule or companion to have to worry about. You can do whatever your heart may desire and tailor your activities to however the mood might strike. No compromising or coordinating with anyone else required.
- Confidence building. Big time. Many people are hesitant to do things alone. They may not be so comfortable with their own company, feeling a need to surround themselves with others at all times. Feeling anxious or insecure at the idea of doing things alone. Enjoying one’s own company, just as much as time spent with others, is a crucial life skill to acquire. It signals a sense of inner peace, happiness, and confidence. It shows emotional health. Taking the plunge and traveling alone, even though it might scare you, will sky-rocket your self esteem. You are likely to experience some moments of discomfort or loneliness. This is normal. We all have such moments throughout life anyway. These feelings are a part of being human. But they will be just that: moments. The overall trip will be a fantastic, growth inducing, character expanding thing. Once you return from your solo travels, you will feel strong, proud, and contented that you did such a thing on your own. And, that you had a stellar time while doing so.
On my first experience traveling alone (to Italy), I was skeptical and nervous. What if I was bored? Lonely? Got lost? A whole week was a long time to be entirely by myself. I was worried. And guess what? I reveled in it. Eating whatever I craved, and when I was hungry. Pausing to ponder, look, and soak in, anytime I felt like it, not having to worry about the entertainment or interests of a companion. Spending hours exploring on foot, sitting in cafes and writing, napping in a rose garden overlooking the city. I signed up for a group bike tour that took me through the rolling hills of Tuscany, during which we were soaked in a sheet of down pouring rain, and mere moments later, found ourselves baking in the brilliant sun. The bike tour concluding with the guide asking me out that night, to which I said yes. Our date, a lively, engaging, and fun one.
All of this happened because I was alone. And it was fabulous. My second solo trip was one year later, to Portugal. Then my third, a year following that one, to Sweden. Since then, while I love traveling with companions and do so often, I am hooked on solo adventuring.
One discovers just as many riches and worthwhile moments when alone and adventuring. Some of which, can only be uncovered and experienced when solo.
3. Meeting new people. When traveling as part of a pair or group, other people are less likely to approach you. However, when alone, other fellow travels are much more inclined to approach and strike up conversation. If you enjoy meeting new and interesting people, this can be eye-opening and lots of fun. You will have the chance to meet fellow travelers like yourself, and maybe even some locals! When traveling alone in Amsterdam, I met a man in the airport when stuck there overnight. We remained in touch over several years, even meeting up again when my boyfriend at the time and I stopped there on the way to another adventure. This can enrich your travel experience by volumes, depending on the people you meet and maybe even things you will experience with them!
4. Liberating. This falls into a similar camp as confidence building. Throughout your trip, as well as when you return, you will have many moments of feeling incredibly liberated, freed, and infused with light at the fact that you had the confidence and courage to travel on your own. You will look back on the experience with awe and joy. You will find yourself telling friends and family tales from your solo travels, a proud smile on your face (especially as most of them remark “You’re so brave to have done that alone, jeez, I would never be able to do that!”). You will find yourself grinning mischievously and feeling as though you have achieved something, as if you have uncovered a sweet secret which they have not. And in a way, you have.
5. Self Reliance. When one travels alone, there is no other person along for the ride to rely on. Therefore, it all comes down to you. You will need to find your hotel within the winding, cobblestone streets. You will have to decipher navigating the city, communicate with locals, and to find out where things are, etc. If you end up in any temporary though stressful situations (and as fellow travelers know, this tends to happen at least once or twice per trip. Travel mishaps are a given, and part of the adventure), you will need to manage and feel your way through it. Another crucial life skill to learn, strength and self reliance in the face of stressful or challenging moments. This results both in feeling capable and confident, with new life skills learned, and it arms you with some super stories to tell afterward!
6. Great stories for sharing with others. Traveling alone will undoubtedly supply you with many meaningful tales to share with family and friends. You will think back on these travel memories and moments often, with a mixture of pride and joy. And again, will feel incredible for having done so. Because while a fair amount of people travel alone at some point, many do not. Thus, it’s a way cool, impressive, and awesome thing, to be able to say you have! And then to have the opportunity to share the experiences, the meaning you found, and lessons learned via such with others.
Travel alone. It infuses you, as well as your life following, with such riches. With further character development, relevant lessons learned, incredible memories, and a life laden with powerful moments.