While a family or couples vacation is a popular travel configuration, solo travelers have taken journeys of self-discovery throughout history. Traveling alone to the world’s most amazing destinations is not as far-fetched as you might think. Far from having to be scary or lonely, solo travel has a number of perks and benefits.
CNN profiled a female solo traveler who reported feeing “stronger and more capable” after her journey. Some of the best travel memoirs were written by solo travelers. Also, everyone needs some time for solitude and self-reflection, and traveling solo is a great way to accomplish this.
Solo travel offers the opportunity to see someplace new, expand your horizons and feel more comfortable and confident in your own skin. A first solo trip can bring up some trepidation, especially if you are traveling alone to another country. However, the truth is that the world is far more connected than ever before. With cell phone services, the internet and video chat so readily available, if you ever need to hear a friendly voice from home, they are just a call away. Voice over internet (VOIP) technology can also help reduce or eliminate those pesky international calling rates, too.
It’s Your Time
Not having to coordinate everything with travel companions is another perk of traveling solo. Solo travelers love not having to adhere to anyone else’s schedule. You can follow your own rhythms and “go with the flow” every moment of the journey. If you’d prefer to be restful, unwind and take it slow the whole trip, there’s no one to pressure you to do otherwise. You can indulge in whole days spent lounging on the beach, taking self-guided walks or hikes, or just sit and admire some scenery or a work of art. It’s your schedule to create and enjoy.
That said, you’re also in charge of whether you’d like to go out and meet new people. You’re in control of the balance of solitude and social time on a solo journey, and there can be plenty of room for both. Travel is one of the most educational experiences you can ever have; it gets you out of your routine, out of your comfort zone and away from the social circle you are used to.
Traveling solo is an excellent setting for forging new connections with people you’d otherwise never have met. Traveling as a “party of one” does not have to mean being alone the entire time. In many cases, it can be easier to meet new people one-on-one while traveling solo.
Cultivating Mindfulness and Self-Awareness
Have you ever wanted to go on one of those mindfulness meditation retreats? Well, traveling solo is another way to receive some of the same benefits. Purposeful solitude can help you to cultivate mindfulness, which is a targeted awareness of the present moment. Free of the distractions of your normal routine, traveling solo affords a perfect opportunity to be mindful.
A recent Huffington Post article explored how traveling solo can help reduce stress levels, and mindfulness meditation can be an effective component. However, even if you’re not actively meditating, being present and really appreciating new things is easier to do without the distractions of other travelers.
Lastly, one of the most empowering perks of a solo journey is getting to know yourself better. Yes, meeting locals during your travels can be an extraordinary experience, but improving your relationship with yourself is probably the most empowering byproduct of a solo trip.
Consider keeping a travel journal; take lots of photos and post them on Facebook, or keep a blog about your adventures. It’s a great way to share your reflections with others as you are gaining a better understanding of yourself. Your solo travel experiences will no doubt help you to gain a richer understanding of who you truly are, your values, and what matters most to you. You’ll likely come away from the experience with a stronger sense of self and a more confident, self-assured way of being in the world. Safe and happy travels to you!