A few years ago, it would never have crossed my mind to travel alone. Luckily, times have changed, and so have I. Traveling solo has become a more common thing—more and more people have taken the plunge and done it. When I was told last year that I should attend a conference in Italy, I got the idea of traveling the country while I was at it, because I’d never been to Italy before. But I couldn’t really expect anyone to want to follow me for two reasons: it’s a lot of time and a lot of money. So I would do it alone or not at all.
It didn’t scare me. It was just natural to plan it. Of course, I was a bit nervous. I had moved from A to B alone, but at B I always had someone with me. Would I be bored? Targeted by pickpockets? Would I miss people? Would I feel uncomfortable with no one to share my days with?
It turned out, the answer to all the questions was ‘no.’ That trip was everything I could have hoped for. I had a great time with myself and learned so much; about the world and about myself.
If you’re considering going somewhere alone, please do it. You will love it. And if you think you couldn’t possibly do it because you need people around, remember: traveling by yourself doesn’t mean you’re away from people. Quite the contrary! You’re free to meet strangers all the time—if you want to. Everything you will do on your trip is entirely up to you. And that’s the beauty of it.
Why is solo travel completely awesome?
When you’re on your own, your whole schedule depends on you and nobody but you—and can bend anytime you want it to. You’re the boss. It means you will have to be very clever about it. You’ll squeeze sightseeing, meals, wandering and possibly meeting people into a schedule that’s manageable. If you think a certain neighborhood is way too cute to just pass it and move along, nobody’s preventing you from doing exactly that. If you’re hungry, you don’t need to wait for others to be—just sit down and have some food. Perfect.
Another perk that comes with this is being able to maximize the time you’ve got. I polished my nails on the train. I wrote postcards in a cafe. I chose and edited photos for my blog on the intercity train. In general, whenever I had time and not much to do, I would just think of an activity that doesn’t require special conditions. You can write pretty much everywhere, right? And draw, and answer emails, and…. It feels great to not have to fall behind while traveling.
When you travel with people, you tend to stick to them exclusively. While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with this (hey, you choose your travel companions well, don’t you?), it also means less chance of meeting others because honestly, you don’t need other people around.
Being alone makes you more open to people, which gives you more chance to hear so many interesting and inspiring stories!
When you’re traveling solo, you may end up with more photos (if you’re into that) than when you’re with people. Imagine walking around a town the whole day—the most likely scenario on your solo trip. Imagine the town is actually a city packed with sights or other interesting things you want to see, and you don’t have to slow anyone else down when you pull off to the side to snap some photos of them. Sure, you will be in very few photos yourself, unless you’re a sucker for selfies. But honestly? You won’t mind that much. Having those actual photos as a memory will be great, but reminiscing about your solo trip will be wonderful with them or without them.
If you’re scared or worried about what might happen, try to remember this: Most of the people in the world are actually very kind and helpful. Really, most of them! Stay informed about the area you’re going to, avoid the notably dodgy ones and make sure to update your friends/family back home about your travels. Other than that, just enjoy.