You travel by yourself?
“You travel by yourself?” While many of us, especially those who are happily single, have become solo travelers, including more female solo travelers than ever before, it’s still one of those things that gives people pause.
Don’t pause. Solo travelers have unique experiences that people traveling together just do not have. Adventures await you as a solo traveler. Here’s seven reasons why you’ll want to become one.
7 reasons why you want to become a solo traveler
1. You don’t need to wait for anyone else to be ready to travel
Oh, I’d love to travel, but I don’t have anyone to go with me.
An obvious answer
The most obvious answer to why I am a solo traveler is that if I didn’t travel solo, I would not travel much at all. Given my general life circumstances, not to mention interests, and those of my friends and family, coordinating travel to the same place at the same time rarely works out. I do have a plan to travel with one of my very closest friends on my trip to Vietnam, but past travel ideas with friends have fallen through.
The deeper question
While the surface answer for why lots of people become solo travelers is the same as mine, I think that it’s important to focus on the deeper question. Remember the I Love This List that we made earlier this week? Well, travel crops up with a lot of people, both for single people and those in relationships. You might love to travel, but you haven’t done it, because you’re waiting for someone to travel with you.
Though exceptions exist for some of us, particularly physical challenges, chances you don’t need to wait for someone to go with you before you can travel. Most of the time, we’re just afraid to travel alone. Afraid for our safety, afraid that we’ll be bored or stand out without someone to talk to, or that we’re afraid that traveling alone will tell other people that we’re unlovable.
You don’t need to wait for someone to come with you
Think about it. You don’t need to wait to coordinate vacation schedules or budgets. You don’t need to wait for someone else to feel like going. You just need your Wanderlust List, your own schedule, and your budget and you’re off on an adventure!
2. Keep your schedule the way you want
What will I do by myself?
I like a loose schedule
I plan for a living. When I’m on vacation, I like to keep things loose. Sure, I do a lot of research (it’s fun!) first. I figure out what I want to see and do and keep in mind when things are closed. Out of necessity, I book restaurant reservations, as the finer dining establishments alas don’t generally take walk-ins. Same goes for certain attractions. If my day trip involves having to get an advance ticket, or any overnight accommodations, then I do that.
Otherwise, I love the freedom of just waking up, fixing myself a cup of coffee, and figuring out where the day will take me. Does that place look like an interesting spot for lunch? Why yes, yes it does. Don’t mind if I do. Do I need a rest? Yep. Let’s go have one. What’s around that corner? We could go to that other neighborhood tomorrow; this spot looks so cool!
You might like more of a schedule
You, on the other hand, might want to have all of your time scheduled ahead, with a detailed itinerary in your calendar weeks before you get on the plane. That’s great. It’s your trip. Wouldn’t it be great to have your plan without having to talk to anyone else about it?
Traveling solo provides a perfect opportunity to just shut up for a minute
3. No negotiation required
I don’t know. What do you want to do?
Oh, the polite negotiation amongst friends. Fun, no? When you travel on your own, that problem goes away.
No negotiation required. No disappointment stemming from having to go on some fast-paced jaunt if I’m really feeling a little more like sitting in a café and watching the world go by. No guilt in dragging someone along to something they clearly have no wish to do.
It’s lovely, really.
4. Your mind will clear
I won’t have anyone to talk to.
We spend a lot of time in our lives talking. When’s the last time you just stopped? Traveling solo provides a perfect opportunity to just shut up for a minute. When I get to the airport or train station, my shoulders relax. Nothing but me and my thoughts, unless I feel like talking to someone. If you don’t speak much of the language in a country, the world gets even quieter.
It’s a very different experience, but a powerful one. After a day or two, you might find yourself slowing down as you walk, because your clear mind is open to what’s around you. When’s the last time you were fully present on vacation?
I live for these moments of wonder, when the fact that right now I am alive, and I am HERE.
With no companion to talk with, and perhaps a limited grasp of the language, traveling alone removes distractions and affords me the opportunity to notice
5. Not having to talk leaves you more open to your experiences
I’ll get bored.
Wandering about my own, I think, enhances my ability to observe. With no companion to talk with, and perhaps a limited grasp of the language, traveling alone removes distractions and affords me the opportunity to notice. The way the sunlight hits a building just before sunset. How people go about their shopping in a food hall, how do they take their turn? How/or do they haggle? Take it in and then go give it a try. A quirky window display. A cat watching the world go by. Take your time, and take tons of photos. No one’s telling you to hurry up.
Our focus stays on the meal when we dine alone—tasting unfamiliar local ingredients, savoring the wine, taking in the ambiance. And there’s something about sitting up straight at a table for one, thoroughly enjoying oneself that just plain old intrigues people. I’ve had more interesting, lingering conversations over the last bit of dessert when out on my own than I typically do even with my closest friends.
6. You will talk to interesting people
People will think I’m a freak. While in Helsinki, I dined alone at the Michelin-starred Chef & Sommelier (now closed, but Chef Sasu Laukkonen has opened Ora, which also has a Michelin star, in the same location). I had expected a quiet evening of excellent cuisine. The food was indeed incredible, but what was even more interesting was by the end of the night, I was talking with people from Noma, as well as another Helsinki restaurant I was going to go to later in the week, and Chef Laukkonen.
We just hung out and talked and laughed. Had I not been off to Estonia the next morning at an ungodly hour, I’d have gone out on the town with them. It was the most fun, and I met people from Noma, and they were interested in my opinions about food. The woman who worked at Spis sat for a moment andtalked with me when I was there later in the week (alas, most things had closed down by the time we all left late in the evening, so I had not missed much).
You'll feel like a badass
7. You’ll feel like a badass
I’ll feel awkward and weird. Solo travel is a rush. Getting yourself to a faraway place (or even a close by one) you’ve never, navigating it, and having the adventure you want to have the way that you want to have it will have you feeling like a total badass.
At the end of my South America trip, I tallied things up: Three countries, two ultracool apartments, two hotels, six cities, four flights, one wild bus ride, a ferry, metros, world-class restaurants, street fairs, street art, museums, and more. I made every transfer, navigated every city, and had the time of my life.
All by myself. Badass.
What about you?
Have you traveled solo before? What would you add to this list. If you haven’t, where do you want to go? Let me know in the comments below!
Check out other posts in the Happily Single series.