Sure, it can be fun to travel with your partner or a group of friends. I personally prefer having my husband there to share the experience and enjoyment of traveling together.

But I firmly believe that everybody should travel solo — sometimes. There’s a lot you can get out of a solo trip that just doesn’t happen when you’re not on your own. Let me give you some reasons why traveling solo can be so worthwhile.

Fit In and Immerse Yourself

If your goal is to really interact with the culture you’re visiting, then solo trips will give you a much greater chance of doing this. A single person slips into the background; you often won’t look like a tourist, and you’ll be able to stand and observe the locals without drawing much attention.

Shopkeepers and bus drivers naturally offer more to the solo traveler. I’ve even had free restaurant meals simply because I turned up alone, squeezed into a table in the corner and chatted with a friendly waiter.

Solo traveler walking streets of Venice, Italy
Solo in Venice © AngelsWings

Meet Other Travelers More Easily

This almost goes without saying, but it’s also very true. Just imagine that you’re in a cafe or a pub, or staying at a hostel, and you see a couple in one corner and a girl sitting by herself in the other. Who are you going to talk to? Solo travelers simply invite company by being there alone.

And once you start meeting other travelers, you get a lot of options that you probably wouldn’t have had with your traveling companion by your side. A bunch of other single travelers decide to go sightseeing together and invite you, for example, and another group are going on a canoe trip. You make your choice and have fun with new friends. Doesn’t that sound great?

Do Exactly What You Want, When You Want

And that segues neatly into my next reason: if you’re traveling solo, you are the boss and decision maker. You can get up every morning — or afternoon, if you’re so inclined — and plan your day according to your own whims and fancies. Want to take in a museum or two? Go for it. Feel more like a shopping spree at the local markets? No problem.

Sometimes I forget how many compromises you make when traveling with a friend or group. I probably wouldn’t have visited that military museum in Ho Chi Minh City if I’d been alone; I definitely would have skipped the aeronautical display in Seattle. When I travel alone, I adore the prospect of choosing exactly the cafe or restaurant I’m going to splurge in for a great lunch, where I can sit with my book and enjoy my favorite food, uninterrupted.

Avoiding the conflict that often comes with traveling with others is another bonus of the solo trip. It’s inevitable that spending virtually all your time with another person, even your beloved partner, will produce a few sparks of conflict, especially in the sometimes stressful negotiations of budget travel. But most people won’t argue with themselves.

Alone on the Beach, Lazio, Italy
Alone on the Beach, Lazio, Italy © Geomangio

Reigniting Your “I Can Do Anything” Spirit

Something about making all my own choices in a foreign place seemed to be giving me that “I can do anything” attitude that I sometimes forget in daily life.

I’ve had a few real moments of clarity while traveling alone that never seem to occur when I’m traveling with someone else. Standing in an art gallery in Hamburg, I vividly remember staring at an exhibition about designer apartments in New York. “I could go and live in a place like that,” I remember thinking to myself, somewhat insanely. “In fact, I can go anywhere I want.” Something about making all my own choices in a foreign place seemed to be giving me that “I can do anything” attitude that I sometimes forget in daily life.

Traveling alone and independently also does wonders for your power of self-reliance and even your self-esteem. Taking responsibility for all the tasks involved in traveling, without having someone else to talk over the possibilities with or to make the decisions for you, is a really empowering thing. It’s especially powerful if you’re navigating through a foreign country, perhaps using some knowledge of a foreign language, and managing to find your way from place to place all alone.

But Don’t Travel Alone All the Time

Personally, I wouldn’t recommend being a 100% solo traveler. There are some experiences you might really want to share with someone special, be it a partner or a friend; and being able to reminisce about a trip is one of the long-lasting benefits. There are also some destinations where, as a woman, I’d feel more comfortable traveling with someone else. And finally, if you’re always on the road alone you do run the risk of developing some slightly selfish, hermit-like tendencies.

So where possible, mix up your travel mode. Travel with friends, family, partners, groups of strangers, whatever takes your fancy: but always remember to savor the trips you have the privilege of taking alone.

About The Author

Amanda Kendle is an Australian travel addict who's visited more than thirty countries. She works as a travel blogger, blogging trainer and social media consultant and is trying to get a novel published. You can follow her life as a travel blogger at Not A Ballerina.

20 Responses

  1. Donna

    Great article Amanda. I’ve done a couple of longer-term trips on my own, and while it was lonely at times, I also forged really close connections with other travelers. Looking back, those friendships are what made the trips truly special.

    I included your article in a post over at BootBlog: Should I travel solo?

    Reply
  2. Bonnie

    I really like this article. I was always afraid of traveling alone. One one of my last trips, I traveled with my partner and met up with people in the same city, but then parted ways and spent a significant amount of time alone and it was an incredibly liberating experience.

    I think really just to have those amazing “awakening” moments that traveling allows us, it’s necessary to go alone sometimes and confront some of your own boundaries.

    I got lonely. I got upset and faced some difficulties traveling alone (even though it was only a few days alone) – but I also had some amazing moments – one that is now in my top 5 travel moments ever. I visited a garden that I’ve always wanted to see and being there alone was a gift that I wouldn’t trade for anything – even to share it with people I love. It was all mine!

    -bonnie

    Reply
  3. Scribetrotter

    I traveled alone – for three years across Africa and Asia. I started off for a few months, and then, the rhythm kicked in and I just kept going…

    I know for certain that my trip would have been vastly different had I been with someone. There are many things I wouldn’t have done and many people I wouldn’t have met, for all the reasons you mention.

    Instead, I look at that trip as the high point of my life, not only because I saw a large chunk of the world, but because I changed as a person. I became more self-sufficient, independent, adaptable, accepting…

    It was scary at times and at others it was lonely, but I’d do it again in a second, solo.

    Reply
  4. boldlygosolo

    I really enjoyed this post. It’s always nice to have travel options, although I suspect it’s a little more difficult to take solo vacations, Amanda, if your husband likes to travel with you? Maybe not. Maybe he also enjoys his solo jaunts.

    For some of us, the only choice is to travel alone or don’t travel, simply because of the way we like to travel or the things we want to do.

    For instance, right now I am trying to choose a vacation in Central America so I can take Spanish lessons and immerse myself in a Spanish speaking culture. I don’t have a single friend or acquaintance who would like to spend a vacation at a language school!

    But there’s no way the lack of a companion is going to keep me home. I’ve ventured out alone enough times to know that it is an amazing experience most of the time.

    For about a year, I’ve been writing about my travel experiences, and those of others, at boldlygosolo.com.

    Reply
  5. Amanda

    @Donna, thanks for the kind words and link.

    @Bonnie, traveling with a partner but then splitting up sometimes is an excellent idea too – a good compromise for the benefits of traveling solo and traveling in company. Loved your garden experience!

    @Scribetrotter, wow, 3 years alone! I can just imagine how much that must change you. Not everyone could manage that – good on you!

    @boldlygosolo, I still get a good mix of travel modes because I can get away from other work commitments easier than my husband can (but yes he’d like to come with me every time!). Good luck for your Central America adventure and keep up the solo travel!

    Reply
  6. Alana

    Great article. A couple of years ago I did 7 months across Australia alone, and had I been with someone else I never would have been able arrive in a place, planning on staying a few days, think to myself, “Hey, I like it here,” and go out and get a job the next day, staying for a couple of months.

    I also love traveling with friends, but between coordinating time off and negotiating budgets, it is often difficult on longer trips. I’m about to do the Camino de Santiago in Spain, and am lucky enough to be doing the first 600km alone and then meeting up with my mother for the last few days. A great compromise!

    Reply
  7. Trey N.

    Love this article. I feel I make better, deeper connections with the locals when I’m alone. It’s like you said though, people alone are much more inviting. It seems like many more doors open for you if you’re solo.

    More than anything though, it is definitely a growing experience. Everyone should do it at least once, you’ll definitely feel like a better, stronger you.

    Reply
  8. Michele

    I really like to travel alone, mainly for two reasons: first, it’s easier to blend with the locals, which is always what I aim for; secondly, I’m a photographer, thus it’s easier to take photos when you’re alone, because you don’t feel constrained and you can do whatever you want whenever you want.

    But then it’s good to travel with a friend every now and then, it makes for great experiences that you’ll love to look back at in the future. :)

    Reply
  9. Sola: A Fetal Manifesto and Healing Tattoo « Lonely Girl Travels

    [...] There’s plenty of articles and blogs out there lauding the benefits of solo travel. Solo Friendly and Solo Traveler are devoted entirely to solo travel, with service-oriented tips and how-tos, while Women on the Road focuses exclusively on encouraging women to backpack. Independent-traveler sites BootsnAll and Matador have featured articles discussing pros and cons, and urging readers to take the solo plunge. The benefits promoted are fairly obvious—the freedom to do what you want when you want—as are the chief drawbacks discussed: safety and loneliness. Nearly every article and site on solo travel I’ve encountered has urged all travelers to go at it alone at least once. [...]

    Reply
  10. Todd

    All excellent points. One thing that’s great about traveling solo is it allows you to break out of any shell you may have. If you’re a shy, self-conscious person, solo travel is a great way to get over it. I also just finished up writing an email newsletter for my blog followers about solo travel about 15 minutes before reading this, small (internet) world.

    Reply
  11. Arctic Nomad

    Totally agree that everyone should travel solo sometimes. I have been traveling solo since January, and what that means is that I’ve actually rarely traveled alone. Especially in central and south America you always meet other travelers to tag along with. And like you say, it’s especially easy to meet others when you are traveling by yourself.

    Right now I am traveling with my sister is SE Asia, and yeah it is great traveling with someone you know occasionally.

    I think I can handle traveling with friends for maximum of two months. I wouldn’t imagine traveling a year with someone. Much easier by yourself :)

    Reply
  12. SoloMate Travel

    So true – you are much more likely to make friends with the locals if you are traveling alone because you are less intimidating to approach when you are by yourself.

    Reply
  13. istanbul

    i travelled 23 countries in 2,5 years alone when i was 21yrs old it was the best thing i did…

    Reply
  14. gokhan

    My first trip to abroad was alone. Now I’m a pretty experienced traveler and i can definitely say that traveling alone sounds hard but it’s definitely the best thing you can do for your own good. Both to travel around the world and travel inside your own.

    Reply
  15. ChinaMatt

    Definitely. Traveling alone can be great, but it’s also difficult. I think the worst part about it is eating alone. After my current 6 months of solo travel, I’m rather tired of the lifestyle. And I still have plenty of time to go (at least I get to spend a week traveling with my parents in a few months).

    Reply
  16. Katherine Belarmino | Travel the World

    When I travel with my husband, I am still the boss and decision maker. :) But I do enjoy traveling alone too. There have also been times when we have traveled together but he’s gone golfing or stayed behind for a nap and I’ve explored on my own. Sometimes these are nice little breaks to have when traveling as a couple.

    Reply

Leave a Reply to It’s Free to Be Green: Creative Travel Options | Your Daily Thread - YDT Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Let\'s Make Sure You\'re Human ... * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.