In those times of coronavirus pandemic and recommended social distancing, I feel like it’s not a bad idea to put the spotlight back on solo travel and all the benefits of solo traveling.
This list of 7 benefits of traveling alone is based on my personal experience as well as that of other travelers who went out into the world on their own.
I’ve compiled information found out there too, grouping together some benefits that were extremely similar, and came up with those 7 actual perks of solo traveling.
I know it’s scary, and you mainly see the dangers and drawbacks of traveling on your own but trust the world of the total stranger that I am when I say: solo travel is worth it.
Let’s dive in - but be warned: by the end of this post, you won’t be able to stop yourself from planning your very first solo trip!
You can be selfish
Satisfying everyone’s interests is arguably the hardest part of traveling as a group. Some people may want to visit historical sites and museums, while others would rather spend more time at the beach, and others still are into hiking and trekking.
Sure, you can compromise and do a bit of everything so that everyone returns home happy about their trip. Just like in a relationship, compromising is essential when traveling as a group.
But there’s no need to compromise when solo traveling! One of the main benefits of traveling alone is not having to accommodate everyone’s desires, but yours alone.
Don’t want to stay in expensive hotel rooms? Don’t have to.
Don’t feel like waking up at dawn for an 8-hour trek? Don’t need to.
Want to stay at the beach and read all day? Go ahead and do that!
Travel at your own pace, guilt-free. Solo traveling is all about “me time”: spend your time and money on what YOU want. Build your plans based on your desires alone. No compromises. Make the most of that, because it might be the only time when being selfish is perfectly acceptable and not frowned upon!
You’re more likely to meet interesting people
When traveling with friends or your significant other, you usually stick together. When on your own, you’re more prone to talking with the locals, making new friends, and becoming more sociable.
One of the reasons that it’s easier to meet people when traveling alone is that you’re more approachable than when you’re part of a group. Locals and other travelers will have an easier time coming to you and making a real connection if you’re on your own.
Similarly, I bet you’ll get out of your way to talk to strangers when traveling solo -- even if you think of yourself as shy and asocial. If you’re open, smiling and generally engaging, locals will want to help and take an interest in you.
One crucial thing to keep in mind is that solo traveling isn’t about being on your own for the entirety of the trip! I’d go as far as to say that one of the best things you can do is meet people and make new friendships.
Some may last only for the duration of your trip -- others might very be life-changing, long-lasting ones.
You get to know yourself better
I bet that you’ll discover things about yourself that you didn’t know before traveling on your own. Just like we assume things about others without knowing them, you have built up beliefs about yourself that traveling solo might very well shatter.
For example, before going on my own for a month, I believed myself to be asocial and very happy on my own. I was planning to spend this entire month entirely on my own, thinking only about me, myself, and I.
If this trip taught me anything about myself, it’s that I actually do need to have friends around me. I’m perfectly fine with only a few of them, but I can’t stay on my own too long, lest I get into some very bad habits and go crazy.
The point is that as you become a solo traveler, you’ll likely discover more about who you are along the way.
It's easier to save money
That benefit of traveling alone is debatable since it depends on your travel style. But at the very least, it’s easier to keep to your budget during a solo trip, simply because you choose what you want to spend money on. You determine how much you want to spend and on what.
True enough, traveling on your own won’t get you the “group discounts”, but since you’re only spending money on what YOU want, you can allow yourself to pay the full price on other things. For instance, when I traveled with family members, we would always book hotel rooms, sometimes last-minute, resulting in high accommodation costs.
When I left alone, I was staying at hostels instead. They’re much cheaper and more suited to my travel needs (spend little on accommodation, splurge on good, tasty food and activities). The money I saved aside was put to better use for my tastes, spending time ticking items off my bucket list.
As a side note, ClaimCompass’ Service app saves the average traveler $303 per year. It monitors your inbox, looking for disrupted flights for which you could get compensation, and hotel rooms that can be rebooked at a lower rate. Feel free to check out the app if saving money on travel sounds good:
It boosts long-term happiness
That benefit of solo traveling is a bit harder to explain, but the general idea is that happiness comes from your experiences. And solo travelers particularly value their experiences because when being alone, they reflect on the memories associated with them even more.
When you travel solo, you cherish the memories you make along the way because they belong to yourself alone. I know I’ll never forget my first solo trip and while I shared most of what happened with my close ones, there are things that I kept to myself, because I believe that since it was a solo adventure, it’s only normal that parts of it should remain entirely mine.
Meeting people that have become some of my best friends was also one of the main benefits of solo travel for me, and the best part of all my travel experiences. You know how they say that in the end, you regret the things that you didn’t do more than the things you did? It’s cliché but I have no doubt it’s true.
You’ll improve your language skills
Needless to say, if you’re traveling someplace where the national language is the same as yours, that’s a benefit that you’ll pass on.
I understand how scary this can be for a first time solo trip, but if you get further out of your comfort zone and travel to a destination where your mother language isn’t the one spoken there, you’ll make the experience all the more memorable.
Learning a new language when traveling is something that you should definitely consider. Now, there’s no need to be fluent! But by making the effort to address the locals in their own language, you’ll always attract yourself their favors, compared to a tourist who insists on talking in their own language.
I genuinely believe that solo travelers have everything to gain when learning the basics of the local language. Not only might it give you a better understanding of the culture, learning a new language is proven to boost your cognitive skills too.
You’ll get a self-confidence boost
As you step out of your comfort zone, you’ll learn to rely on yourself. Difficult situations might pave the way and when you’re on your own, you can’t count on anyone else’s problem-solving and decision-making skills but your own.
Learning to follow your instinct and making your own choices is a critical part of growing up, as is assuming responsibility for the consequences of those decisions.
It’s actually a critical step in learning the lesson that you have to be proactive and shape your life with your actions rather than waiting for others to create your reality.
All of this will in turn give you a MASSIVE confidence boost, not only for future trips (whether you’re on your own again or with others) but also for your personal and professional life once the trip if over. As you push back your limits, challenge yourself, and overcome obstacles on your own, you become a more confident, interesting human being.
There you have it, the 7 most important benefits of traveling on your own. Check out the rest of the blog for travel tips to help you out during your journey, including the benefits of traveling, alone or not!
Feel free to write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell me where you’re planning your first solo adventure! Will it be somewhere in South America? The Canary Islands in Europe? Bali in Southeast Asia? I want to know!