Though I have taken countless flights alone, I have always met someone on the other end and have always traveled with others. I had never visited to a new place entirely solo until my recent trip to Vieques, Puerto Rico. Prior to leaving, I had read a lot about the merits of solo travel and how transformative of an experience it can be. I was excited and had an inkling that by the end, I would be addicted.
I could not have been more correct.
I loved everything about traveling alone, even the weird and more difficult aspects, and know now that solo travel will be a regular occurrence for me in the years to come.
If you haven’t traveled solo yet, I implore you to try it out on your next trip. You don’t need to go thousands of miles away. Go on a road trip for a couple of hours to a nearby place you’ve always been curious about. Go to a country you’ve been to before but have never visited solo. Start small and work your way up, but go alone. For the below reasons and more, it might just be that life-changing experience you’re looking for.
You gain confidence
Experiencing a new destination and a new culture with no other person but yourself to rely on means that you are forced to navigate everything alone. This includes the incredibly positive experiences, but it also includes those uncomfortable situations brought on by cultural and linguistic differences. By using problem-solving and decision-making skills to navigate through these times, you prove to yourself that you are capable of a lot more than you ever thought. You’ll come out on the other side feeling stronger, braver and more confident.
You have more time for introspection
On my solo trip, I discovered that there is nothing I love more than watching the sunset alone with a cocktail in hand. It is one of my favorite opportunities to think introspectively and to reflect on the day – what went well, what went poorly and how I am feeling about it.
During solo travel, you’ll have many of these moments – of watching sunrises and sunsets, of eating delicious local food and of exploring unique nature. All by yourself. And while this might sound beyond unappealing at first thought, trust me when I say that these times with yourself are invaluable.
You decide what to do
When exploring a new destination in a group, everyone has different priorities and different travel styles. Some like to visit the historical sights and museums. Others like to spend all of their time trying out the local cuisine. Some like the nightlife, others like waking up with the sun. Put all those people together in one group and everything is a debate.
With solo travel, you can be selfish. Want to eat at that super quirky, off-the-beaten-path restaurant? Want your hotel room’s temperature set to 60 degrees? You got it! The beauty of solo travel is that the only person you have to consult is yourself, so you’re able to design a trip that is packed with everything important to you.
You meet interesting people and make new friends
When traveling in a group, you are not likely to go out of your way to meet new people. But when you’re traveling solo and navigating things on your own, you are significantly more eager to chat up locals and turn strangers into friends. On my first solo trip, I went on a nighttime tour of a bioluminescent bay and ended up befriending a group of people my age. We got along so well on the tour that we all decided to grab drinks afterwards! I now have the phone numbers of two of the girls I made friends with and we often text about our future travel plans.
You realize the world is your oyster
The reality is that if you waited for those close to you to be ready to travel to all of the places you want to go, you might be waiting forever. Learning how to travel alone is the single best gift you can give yourself because you realize that you don’t need others to travel. After just one solo trip, you realize that you have all of the resourcefulness and confidence necessary to travel anywhere! The world is your oyster.
So, tell me – where will you go for your first solo trip? Or if you have traveled alone, what did you like the most about it?
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