Having travelled solo for about 16 months in the past years, people regularly ask me why I often go alone. Based on my experiences, I came up with the following reasons:
Logistics for travelling can be quite a challenge, especially when considering complex visa time-schedules and finding transportation in busy holiday periods. The more people you travel with, the harder this becomes. I have had plenty of times when I was able to get the last train ticket on a specific route, which would have been impossible if I were with more people. On top, jumping in an overcrowded minibus is also much easier when you are alone. I even think you can be much more efficient moving from one place to another when you are travelling solo. No more waiting for the next, less crowded bus, but also no more waiting for the other going to the toilet or finishing his breakfast.
2. Do whatever you want, not what another wants
When travelling with another person, there is always a moment when you need to make concessions. That’s a basic fact of life. While there is nothing wrong with making concessions, travelling is exactly the best opportunity when you finally don’t need to. For once, you can fully focus on your own development, experience and pleasure, leaving all the rest behind.
3. Infinite freedom
You’re travelling, not working. You can decide day in and day out what your plans will be for the day. Feel like doing absolutely nothing for a day? There’s no one to hold you back! Feeling fed up and want to move on to a new country? Lift up that thumb or jump on a train, it’s you and your backpack! Infinite freedom!
4. Follow your dreams
No one is responsible for you chasing your dreams except for yourself. If you feel like you want to travel the whole world while you are still young, why wait for someone else to join? Before you know, you turn 30 and hit your first midlife crisis thinking: “Why did I never chase those dreams?”. Leave your partner at home, tell them you are off for something more important. Do it before you get kids…
5. Positive energy
When travelling alone, there is no such thing as people telling you not to do certain things. The only negative energy you can experience when you are on the move alone, comes from yourself. So when you want to turn your whole travelling into a great experience, focus on the positive things. If you meet people that radiate too much negativity, you just simply move on. As easy as that.
6. Fewer mistakes
How often did you rely on someone else for something particular, and then find out that person was exactly thinking the same about you? When alone, there is no need to coordinate tasks and thus less chances that things go wrong. On top, you never run the risk of having to deal with someone else’s mistakes like spending a day at the police office reporting on a theft or going to the hospital. You are in full control over your own choices. If something goes wrong, you’re the only one to blame.
7. Focus more
Especially when it comes to my photography, I can focus much better when I am working alone. It is much easier to talk to a person on the street for more than one hour because you are interested in his story and want to take interesting pictures later on. No need to rush because of someone else or because you agreed to be back at a specific time. Also, often when I focus on a specific topic in a country I don’t have to keep in mind that my travel partner also wants to see other things. If you are splitting up all the time anyway, then what’s the point of going together?
8. It’s more intense
Being on your own in a strange environment, at the complete mercy of the people around you, is a much more intense experience than having the feeling of being able to fall back on someone else. Did you ever experience what it’s like when more than 10 people gather around you when you are eating something on the street? Did you ever experience what it is like to be chased around by people who want to take a picture of you? Alone you will immediately learn how to deal with certain situations by yourself, learn to improvise better but also get to know a language much quicker.
9. Pushing your boundaries
I often use travelling to push the boundaries of my comfort zone. Whether it is about taking risks going to certain offbeat destinations, or by searching for the cheapest overnight stay in places like Bangladesh. My style of travel might not be suited to most of my friends and I only have few who can handle the same amount of discomfort I sometimes experience.
10. Meeting awesome people
For some reason, I feel like people have much more sympathy for those travelling alone than for those in a group. Even myself, I feel like this about others. You will find that it is much more likely to be invited into a house, to attend a wedding, to connect with the locals or with other travellers who are also travelling alone. Some of the solo travellers I met were extremely interesting and inspiring people.
To conclude my list, probably the biggest lesson you can learn from travelling alone is that it doesn’t matter where you are, you are never alone. Cheers to that!
Do you feel like you’re still not convinced to travel alone, then have a look here to see if travelling together might fit you more.