“I fall into a flow of personal distance among strangers when I’m home. Sometimes I feel like I’m a better version of myself when I’m away, whether I’m asking for help or learning someone’s story.”
Most questions I get about my travels are why I go it alone. I get inquiries from girls all over the world asking for tips and advice on how or what it’s like to travel on my own, which thrills me to hear that so many of you are interested in doing it. Besides my most worthwhile advice to just do it, I’ve compiled a list of the best and worst things I've felt about solo travel that might be on the minds of the dreamers out there.
When you travel with a friend or your family, people are bound to have differing opinions and itineraries. Even with plans in place, so much of a positive experience in a new place is listening to your instincts and allowing for modifications. I’ve been en route to coffee shops before and run into a local on the way, who of course knows the best place to get a cappuccino, and off I go on an unplanned route for a better cup of coffee. Trying to accommodate everyone’s needs and interests when traveling with a group often becomes a stressful challenge.
Strolling city streets or hiking a trail alone leaves no room between you and your adventure. Traveling with another individual or group automatically puts the priority on the relationship, and a lot of time is spent in conversation or thinking about things back home because you have that familiar connection. You might miss a scene or a sight that could have enhanced the experience. Of course, traveling with another person can often enhance your travel experience, but that’s not always the case. There's a lot to be learned about yourself on a lonely road, whether you're twenty years old or fifty. Self-discovery is a lovely and powerful thing.
I’m very intentionally making this a pro because it’s a good way to grow. If you’re scared of going somewhere by yourself, so what? Get over it. If you’re not comfortable spending time with yourself, how are you even a person right now? To quote the very wise Samantha Jones, you’ve been in a relationship with yourself for 24 years (replace with your own age), and that’s the one you need to work on. By principle, solo travel makes you take care of yourself. If you’re traveling alone, you have to eat and you have to get places, and you’ll have to do it all yourself. You might even realize you enjoy the time alone.
One of the great joys of traveling with a friend is splitting the cost of lodging. Whether you’re camping or living the suite life, being able to split the pricey cost of an overnight stay is definitely something to think about if you’re looking to travel on the cheap. However, traveling solo does give you more flexibility with options for where to stay, since all you basically need is a twin bed and a roof over your head. Plus, you can cut costs in other areas like food or public transportation since you’re the one making all the decisions.
Honestly, unless you’re intentionally going to get away from it all, social media and strangers easily solve this problem. I’m constantly on Snapchat and Instagram while I travel to share the experience with my friends, family, and you, and it makes me feel like the world is right there with me. The other thing is being on your own often lends itself to conversation much more easily. People are more inclined to be kind to a single pleasant soul perusing the menu, asking for recommendations for what to eat or where to go than someone sitting in their own little world with a friend.
I was hesitant to add this one to the cons list, because traveling alone is technically no more unsafe than traveling with a girlfriend, especially abroad. However, it’s the anticipation and the anxiety about traveling alone that makes it a con. It is scary to think about being out there with no one to take care of you, but that’s essentially what you do when you leave home for the first time. You’re heading out into the unknown. You can still call your mom if you need to. Doing it in an unfamiliar city or country makes you just makes you braver for it.
All of this is to say that I’m a big proponent of traveling alone and enjoy it thoroughly. It’s not for everyone, but if it’s ever crossed your mind, I encourage you to book a ticket to that place you’ve always wanted to go and start putting together an itinerary. It’s just as liberating as you think it’s going to be.