Every year, around Valentine’s Day, we are convinced that life is simply better when you’re in a relationship. We get jealous of the good-looking couples walking down the street hand-in-hand or posting obnoxiously adorable selfies on Instagram. Why don’t we have the picture-perfect relationship?
When it comes to vacationing, there is something to be said for a sunset or amazing view shared with someone you care about. Climbing a huge rock wall with a buddy is fun. We can’t deny it. However, traveling solo can also be rewarding – albeit in different ways. Although traveling alone seems counter-intuitive to many people, once tried, it clearly has a lot of benefits. It’s more and more accepted and commonplace every day. Why? Consider the following reasons.
Whatever you want
Traveling alone means that you get to do whatever you want: set your own itinerary, wake-up time, budget, etc. Anyone who’s ever been on a trip with another breathing human knows that compromises can be difficult. Everyone goes on vacation with different things they would like to get out of the experience; when two or people have different interests, things get sacrificed for the common good. And when there’s a group? Don’t even ask. Making your own schedule means divvying time up between different locations and sights exactly as you deem appropriate. Let’s say you decided, on the spur of the moment, to detour off your schedule and jump on a kayak down the Amazon River. No problem!
What’s in a name?
When you’re traveling solo, you can be your full self. You don’t need to be any neater, quieter, or fancier-dressed than you’d normally like to be. In our everyday lives, we obey certain rules dictated by our surroundings, workplaces and families regarding how we should behave. Being alone in a foreign place is liberating: you can explore sides of your personality which you would feel too inhibited to try at home. Traveling solo gives you the opportunity to push boundaries and find out more about yourself as you find yourself in unfamiliar territory, both literally and figuratively.
Alternatively, you can use your solo trip as an opportunity to reinvent yourself. You can invent a new identity for a short period of time and see how it feels to pretend to be someone else. Since there are no expectations, you can be whatever and whoever you want. Want to tell the guy you met at the beach bar that you’re an airplane stewardess with a master’s degree in neurology? Go ahead. It can be a harmless experiment in discovering yourself. Just be careful – in the age of Facebook, a white lie can be easily uncovered.
When you are traveling alone, you are much more likely to discover a new culture, be it in the small corridors of the Louvre that nobody else but you would have patience for, or in the far-off pygmy village you trekked seven hours to reach. Also, you’re more likely to meet new, interesting people. Being alone gives you greater incentive to reach out, and other people will also be more likely to reach out to you when you’re on your own. The possibilities are endless. You just might go home with a slew of new international friends. Therefore, traveling on your own is a great method for diversifying your friend portfolio, whether with fellow travelers or natives of whatever locale you’re exploring.
Immersion in a local culture is much easier when traveling solo because you are able to ignore the things which remind you of home and normal routine. When traveling with friends or family, you inevitably eat certain foods, speak English everywhere you go, pose for embarrassing photos. These are not relevant when you travel alone. On your own, you are free to jump into any new adventure. You can eat foods without dietary restrictions (other than your own) and practice any language without insulting a travel partner. There’s nothing holding you back.
You’re never alone
One of the great realizations of traveling solo might be that you’re actually not alone. There are tons of people, young and older, out there who are going on solo adventures. Guess what?! You will find those people at your hotel, local cafe or museum. All you have to do is connect with those people, and you might wind up with a vacation experience that you never expected. This has become even easier with tools like Facebook and Instagram, which allow you to see all kinds of people who are near you at any given time.
In the 21st century we live in a globalized world where, unlike in years past, people live in multiple cities, travel as a way of life and even try dating across borders and oceans. So, never has it been more opportune to try solo travel, the best moment for meeting this new class of global nomads.
Of course, there are a few considerations one should take when going solo. Safety precautions, especially for women solo travelers, become a bit more important. The solo traveler should be more aware of bad neighborhoods, carrying cash and telephone accessibility. While it’s fun to disappear in a foreign country, your Jewish or Italian mom would probably still appreciate an update once in a while – just to be sure you’re still alive. All that considered, the benefits of solo travel are great. Everyone should experience it once, as a transformative process.