As the creator of a website about solo travel, it’s pretty obvious that I think lone adventures are brilliant. Yes, they’re challenging in ways that trips with friends and family aren’t (although, I think we all know that those holidays have many challenges of their own), but in my humble opinion there’s something about heading off alone that cannot be beaten.
As I write this, I’m three weeks into my solo trip around South America, and I can honestly say that apart from my first couple of hours here, I haven’t once wished that I wasn’t travelling alone.
I could ramble on forever about why I love lone holidaying, so in an effort to keep this post to a reasonable word-count I’ve edited it down to my six top things about ridin’ solo.
Getting up in the morning and having no idea where the day might take you is the best feeling. In your normal home-life you know what you’re going to be doing weeks in advance, right? I often find that I’ve got weekends planned out for months, so there’s no opportunity for surprises or impulsive decisions. But, whenever you holiday alone you have the opportunity to shake things up and just let the days come to you.
Being impulsive is by far the most fun thing about solo travel, and when you’re alone you are so much more likely to say yes to new friends and experiences. If you’re with a partner or pal, the temptation to have each day planned out is often too much to resist, and opportunities for unexpected adventures can be missed.
A perfect example of this happened to me last week. It was 10.00pm and I was tired but I decided to have a quick drink at the hostel bar before bed. Before I knew it I was in a taxi with a group of people I didn’t know two hours earlier, on my way to a club in a Buenos Aires. Had I been travelling with someone else, I probably would’ve just called it a night and missed out on a fun night shaking my ass until 5.00am with my international homegirls.
The overwhelming sense of achievement
Being challenged every day and continuously surprising myself by how resourceful I actually am gives me the greatest sense of pride.
From navigating Moscow’s metro (stations are named in Russia’s Cyrillic alphabet, which I wasn’t at all prepared for), to eating dinner in a fancy restaurant on my own for the first time, I’ve done so much that I had previously thought impossible. Inevitably, things go wrong on a trip: you’ll miss a bus, break your phone, or get lost on a daytrip. But, that’s when you’ll thrive. It’s amazing what you can deal with when you don’t have a travel companion to bail you out.
After a solo trip I feel stronger, smarter and more independent. I feel like I can take on the world, which isn’t a feeling I often get in my regular life at home.
There’ so much time
Seriously – THERE IS SO MUCH TIME. At home it feels like there’s always something to do, whether it’s your job, housework, or social commitments, and I’ve often been guilty of wishing entire days away. When you’re travelling with a friend or partner it can feel like that too to some extent, as you’ll still be obliged to do things or go places even when you don’t want to.
But when you’re alone, your time is your own and you can do whatever you want with it. It’s perfectly ok to spend the morning just reading a book or writing in your journal. If you want to wander around a new city listening to your favourite album or podcast, go for it. Or, if you’re like me and want to stay semi-productive, you can use free days to start new projects or to learn new things. You might want to spend all your time with other people, and that’s totally possible too as it’s so easy to meet other travellers (as I’ve said before, travelling solo doesn’t mean always being alone).
Hours that are untethered from obligation are unbelievably freeing. It excites me every day to wake up and think about all those lovely long hours spread out, just waiting for me to fill them with as much or as little as I want.
Isn’t the thought of being in a place where nobody knows you kind of thrilling? I definitely think so! I really enjoy going off the grid: just leaving my phone at home and heading out into a brand new place to lose myself in it. There’s something almost romantic about it, I think.
That aside, when you go rogue you have nobody to please. Feel unsociable? Lazy? Tired? Do nothing! Sometimes I’ll want crisps for dinner, and every now and again, I might not want to actually go outside for the day. I love a lazy day, and I don’t want to feel bad about going dark.
Taking the idea even further, travelling alone is a temporary escape from the life-baggage you’re forced to lug around back home. You can be exactly who you want to be, with absolutely no outside influence. That’s not to say you’re a different person when you’re away, but it’s surprising how therapeutic anonymity can be. It’s like having a fresh start, every single day.
Peace and quiet
How busy does your head feel right now? Are you thinking a thousand thoughts all at once? Spending time alone can really help to fix that, even if you only spend a short time away.
When you go solo you really have the opportunity to think and reflect. You can assess what makes you happy, what makes you sad, and what you really want out of life. By having the time to get some perspective, you’re pretty much certain to go home with more clarity, peace, and strength.
Our lives are so busy, and I honestly find that I don’t truly feel peaceful unless I can get that all important alone time. That’s not to say you need to spend your solo trip in solitude; just that you can choose when you need to take a break and unwind.
Meeting people/making friends
I’m going to finish on my absolute favourite thing about travelling alone: meeting new people. Although the majority of my solo travel pleasures revolve around taking time out and focusing on myself, there’s nothing better than being in an unknown place and striking up a brand new friendship.
We seldom make new friends as adults once we settle into jobs and relationships, as we stick to what we know. But, if you’re away alone you don’t have that option. Because of this, you’re so much more likely to strike up a conversation with your dorm mate, or sit at the bar rather than a table so you can interact with other solo people while you eat/drink.
In just three short weeks in Argentina I’ve made more friends than I’ve made in the last year at home, and I’m having lots of brilliant experiences with my brand new pals. It’s so exciting not knowing who might enter your life next. And on that note, I’m off to meet someone I didn’t even know last week for dinner…
What’s your favourite thing about travelling solo? Leave a comment or get in touch!