One of most people’s biggest fears is the fear of traveling to a foreign country alone. Because of how certain countries are portrayed in the media, for those who have never tried it, solo travel has been deemed as unsafe. I’ve even had friends that have told me it would be crazy for any person to go on an expedition to somewhere like Budapest ALONE.
Well, I am here to tell you that they are WRONG! I have heard the hype about it being better to travel in groups but solo travel can be just as safe and enjoyable.
After going to several cities and countries ALONE, I’ve encountered incredible experiences and have made connections that I probably wouldn’t have if I had traveled with family or friends.
Although there are many reasons for solo travel, here the top five ways you benefit by traveling alone.
Top 5 benefits of traveling alone
1. You become more fearless
Before I went to Spain by myself, I was terrified of talking to strangers, ESPECIALLY with my broken Spanish. I had no international mobile plan or data package on my phone and so, in order to get from point A to point B, I had to step up and face my fear.
Traveling alone creates this tenacity within you because it places you in situations where you literally have to push yourself out of your comfort zone in order to enjoy your trip.
Whether it’s renting a car and driving up Mt. Haleakala in Maui or taking a cliff dive in Negril, after traveling by yourself a few times, you will see how things that used to send chills down your spine become remedial compared to the experiences you had when you were away.
While walking down a street in Toledo, I saw this beautiful cathedral that none of the tour groups were visiting. It was exquisite! I thought to myself, “Gosh, I would have missed this if I hadn’t gone venturing off on my own.”
Thus, traveling alone gives you to the opportunity to get off the beaten path. If you are walking through Madrid, make a stop by El Museo del Jamón and have a slice of ham and pint of beer for only €1. If in Barcelona, spend your afternoon exploring Park Güell, and enjoy some quiet time reflecting while you watch the sun set over the city's Mediterranean skyline. Don’t miss these top places and tips to travel alone in Europe!
When traveling alone, you have more freedom to go where the wind blows you.
Special events are going on all over the world, all the time! For instance, around the time that I went to Madrid, they were having a parade to honor their troops. They also had a sidewalk bookstore that stretched two blocks long. That was something I’d never seen back home.
Traveling alone encourages you to follow your intuition and instincts, and often leaves you with incredibly unique stories and memories you wouldn't have otherwise experienced.
3. You make connections that last for years
When I traveled for the first time by myself, I felt very lonely. I was crying on the airplane as the flight took off. “What was I doing?” I asked myself. It had only been a couple of hours and I already missed my family.
Then, the weirdest thing happened. Out of nowhere, I met a woman from Australia, just an hour into my plane ride. As we were talking, she invited me to a friend’s house for dinner during my layover in Morocco.
It was a 20-hour layover. Why not spend it eating a homemade Moroccan meal at a local’s house? The feast was unforgettable and the food left me and my new Aussie friend stuffed (in a good way)!
It is truly amazing how solo travel puts you in the right places to meet people.
On one of my solo trips, I met a woman from Sri Lanka who, when she came to visit New York, for the first time, treated me to a visit to Madame Tussauds!
I am not saying that all of your friendships on your solo trips will last forever but it is a great way to expand your friends list on Facebook and the possibilities are truly endless.
4. Way less stress
I can’t begin to talk about the numerous times I have tried to plan trips with friends and family members just to be heartbroken in the end.
“Oh yeah, we could go to Europe,” said one friend. “Oh no, let’s go to Las Vegas,” said another. Soon your idea of a great “girl’s trip” with some great friends turns into a ‘battle of the ideas” and not the vacation you really wanted to go on. MAJORITY ALWAYS RULES!
And that’s IF you get to go on the vacation at all! Friends with children, friends with demanding jobs or friends with no job period, turn the girl’s trip of the century into a nice trip at home.
As with family, it can be a great thing, AGAIN, if you can all decide on the same place to go. When I wanted to go to Hawaii, my mom was all on board. That was until my dad stepped in. “I can’t take that long plane ride,” he said. And with that, I knew we were headed to another Caribbean island with the same beach and palm trees as the last one we’d visited.
Traveling alone takes a lot of the headache out of planning.
You pick the destination. You know your budget. You know for sure that YOU ARE GOING TO GO!
And the best part is you don’t have to argue with friends about the logistics.