“Isn’t it too boring to travel solo?”
“How do you manage to keep your things safe?”
“Aren’t you afraid of getting lost?”
“How do you manage to sit and eat all by yourself without feeling awkward?”
These are the most common questions I often get bombarded with whenever I mention ‘solo travel’ to my friends. Of course, we all know that humans are social animals and the idea of going to a new place all by yourself may feel intimidating and downright unsettling. However, it isn’t as hard, boring or awkward as you think! In fact, it is quite the opposite!
Today, we see that more and more people are choosing to go on solo adventures. The Solo Travel Survey statistics from 2019 have revealed that out of a total of 21,000 people who were surveyed, 76% of them had either traveled solo or were considering a solo vacation in the near future.
Here are 5 reasons why solo traveling may actually be good for you:
- I learned to manage my time
Being the super lazy procrastinator that I was, I never really imagined that I was even capable of traveling alone. The difference is that when I planned a trip with my family or friends, it was usually one person in the group who did all the planning. To be honest, I was never ‘that person’. Well, managing my time is one of the most important skills that my solo journeys have taught me.
Besides, traveling isn’t only about where you go. It’s also about how you go there, where you stay and how much time you spend at each location. Making a sensible itinerary I believe, is the most important thing that every solo traveler needs to keep in mind. When I decide to travel solo to Kochi, Kerala, I make a ridiculously detailed itinerary (on my phone), making sure to carefully time each activity, starting from waking up in the morning, taking a shower and leaving my house to approximating my commute time and returning back home. While my itinerary did not work out perfectly, it did however help me feel more organized and confident. In the end, I realized that I had managed to cover at least 8/10 places on my list!
I also stayed late at one of the beachside cafés and had a peaceful dinner with music and a dance performance! It was surely an evening to remember!
However, if you are one of those people who get so deeply involved in an activity that you eventually tend to lose track of time, setting multiple alerts either on your phone or your smartwatch (if you own one) would be the best way to manage your time!
- I don’t come home broke anymore
It’s true! Traveling solo helps you to ease up on your spending and not be too hard on your wallet. Do you feel awkward and uneasy sitting at a restaurant all by yourself and ordering a meal? Well then, don’t do it! Why not pack your own meal instead? Carry a sandwich or a home-cooked meal, a couple of napkins, and maybe a flask of hot coffee and have a picnic in a grassy garden or by the beach! The last time I had a solo picnic on the pebbly shores of Eastney Beach in Southsea, it was one of the most enchanting and memorable experiences I’ve ever had! In fact, not only did I save money this way, but I also end up saving all that extra time I would’ve otherwise spent searching for the best restaurant to eat at!
Exploring places by walk or using a bicycle could also help you save an ample amount of time and money! Since bicycles weren’t allowed on the train, I had to wait for a bus to go to the ferry which would take me to Hayling Island. However, I soon realized that the bus would be delayed by 15 mins, so I decided to walk instead. I later found out that the bus was delayed by half an hour and was relieved that I had made the right decision! It was nearly 4 pm and the last ferry would be leaving from Southsea in just 45 mins! I was so eager to make it on time that I didn’t realize that I had actually walked 3 miles to get there!
Honestly though! After returning from my solo day trip to Hayling Island, I checked the Health app on my phone and was shocked to discover that I had covered a whooping 20.9km by foot and I hadn’t even realized it! I had also managed to tick 6 places off my list and spend a meager £20 on my train journey and nothing more!
- I have learned to enjoy my own company
I happened to notice that every single time I traveled alone, I learned something new about myself. I was always an introvert, but a person who craved company nonetheless. Traveling solo made me observant and more aware of my likes and dislikes.
I remember sitting at a beach in Brighton staring at the sea and admiring its beauty, while at the same time letting my thoughts run free. Eventually, my thoughts always took an introspective turn, helping me understand myself better. These moments, in a social situation, would probably be lost in endless gossip and taking selfies.
As we all know, real happiness is when you enjoy the journey as much as you enjoy the destination. Often when I stare out of a bus or train window and look at the fields and towns whizzing by, my mind goes into auto-pilot mode. Without my knowledge, I start reflecting on my past and visualizing my future. By the time I reach my destination, I would have sorted out most of my past issues, made a mental note of my future goals, and at the same time enjoying the scenic views that the journey had to offer. All in all, my solo trips have almost always taught me how to appreciate and love myself.
- I ended up meeting some amazing people
Traveling solo actually helps you meet people from different cultural, racial, and ethnic backgrounds, some of whom end up becoming your best friends for life! A survey conducted in 2018 revealed that 1 out of every 50 travelers had found their soulmate at some point during their journey.
In fact, staying at camps or hostels can actually increase your chances of meeting other solo travelers just like yourself! The strongest bonds are often formed when you end up exchanging ideas and finding out that you share the same tastes and interests as them. And voila! You now have a travel buddy! Places such as Amsterdam have numerous hostels bustling with backpackers! Watching the Bollywood movie ‘Queen’ has inspired me to go backpacking to Amsterdam this year and I’ve just started planning my trip!
During my first solo trip to Kerala, India, I happened to meet this amazing young man from Kashmir who explained the history of the city and offered me some tea. It turns out that we are still good friends on Instagram until today!
Also, when I first came to London, I was completely new to the city and didn’t have any friends. So, I started attending numerous parties and gatherings alone and ended up meeting some amazing people who have always been there for me when I needed them! As a matter of fact, most of my solo trips have helped me embrace new ideas and become a lot more open-minded than I earlier was!
- I have become fiercely independent
I have only started traveling solo for a year and I feel that it has helped me become both physically and mentally stronger. The fact that I get complete freedom to do what I want and go where I want without having to rely on anyone’s opinions but my own is one of the main reasons why I now prefer going on vacation alone.
There have been multiple instances wherein travel plans such as the one to Goa, which I was excited about since months was canceled multiple times due to at least one member in my group dropping out! Disappointments like these are now no more as I have chosen to tread the solo path!
Moreover, traveling solo has equipped me with basic skills that are required to become a responsible adult. Hence, in my opinion, the earlier you start traveling solo, the better! Skills such as efficient planning, time, and money management have given me the confidence to stand on my own two feet, something I feel is the utmost essential in today’s busy world.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab your planner, a couple of shoes, and a duffel bag, and get ready to change your life for the better!