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Although there’s nothing wrong with traveling with others…family members, friends or colleagues…I believe everyone would benefit from at least one solo excursion in their lifetime.
I’ve experienced incredibly fun trips with family members and group tours. And I look forward to more of those. I’ve also discovered a passion for traveling on my own. My solitary weekend getaways transitioned to flying alone across the US and then solo explorations in beautiful cities.
The advantages of traveling solo inspire me to pack my carry on and head out on more adventures. Perhaps they will inspire you as well!
Advantages of Traveling Solo
Whether traveling alone or with a group, always plan out a trip and let others know where you will be, your accommodations with contact info and the flight schedule. That provides peace of mind for everyone. It’s good to check in often too with loved ones back home.
I believe travel of any kind is good for the soul. Exploration opens up life by exposing the traveler to different cultures, traditions, places, people and foods. We realize how beautiful the world is and how richly varied.
Solo travel brings additional advantages that can’t be experienced otherwise. Here are seven that I’ve discovered.
Meet New People
When traveling solo you notice other people more than when traveling with others. The focus is outward rather than on a companion.
So you notice the little family traveling with toddlers or the young couple on their honeymoon. It’s natural to smile at the older woman dining alone too in the same restaurant and to strike up a conversation with the young man sharing a seat on the hop on/hop off bus.
Maintaining an attitude of openness and friendliness, if that’s what you desire to do, draws others to you. Take time to get know the staff at your accommodations, the bus and cab drivers, the people in your city tour.
I knew absolutely no one when I arrived in Charleston on my own. And I left feeling like I made friends that I can call upon when I return. Do people express surprise when they find out you are traveling solo? Yes, especially if you are female. And some have opinions about it. Just remember, it’s your adventure. Don’t let someone’s fear about traveling solo sway your intentions.
When I joined a group tour to Magnolia Plantation, I was the only solitary person in the crowd. The rest were couples and families. I enjoyed chatting with some of the other group members. However, one woman took it upon herself to question me continually about why I want to travel solo. I politely answered her questions and then avoided her as best I could. Toward the end of the tour, she singled me out to take photos of her and her husband and chatted like we were old friends. She seemed to finally accept me and my desire for travelling solo.
Personalize Your Schedule
Exploring on your own gives you the freedom to create a schedule that fits you precisely. Want to sleep in? Wake up early? Visit every museum in the city? Hike? Walk historic neighborhoods? Find the best eats? You can do all of those things without concern about what others want to do.
If you are a planner, have fun creating an itinerary ideally suited to your interests. And if you are a spontaneous explorer, then head out, get a little lost and see where the path leads.
I LOVE this aspect of solo traveling. There are so many things I want to see and do. Before the trip, I create a personalized itinerary that includes all the places I want to see, the cafés I want to eat at and the photos I hope to capture. There’s no one except me to please, so I fully indulge my curiosity. And I include at least a couple of experiences that I might not normally do, just for the growth factor!
Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone
Solo travel provides many opportunities for going beyond your comfort zone. Flying or driving alone, staying in an Airbnb or a hotel by yourself, solitary dining, exploring on your own and figuring out how to navigate challenges all move you beyond that comfort zone, especially during the first solo adventure.
It’s so important to choose experiences that take you out of your comfort zone, even if it’s just a step or two over the edge. Stepping out of your comfort zone keeps the brain alert and active. You learn and grow and adapt and gain confidence. And, it’s a key aspect of solo travel.
Choose at least one activity on your solitary adventure that takes you out of your comfort zone. It just might become your favorite memory of the trip.
During the first Charleston trip, I participated in a ghost tour. That part didn’t take me out of my comfort zone. However, experiencing the tour at night and not knowing how far from my accommodations it would end DID move beyond the edges. I knew I’d be walking back to Meeting Street Inn alone. I’m so glad I didn’t let mild discomfort prevent me from going on the ghost tour. It all worked out perfectly, with the tour ending two short blocks from the inn.
Learn More About Yourself
Exploring solo is a great way to build confidence and learn more about yourself and what you are capable of.
From planning the trip to arranging flights and/or rental cars to setting out into the wilderness, city or community on adventures, the experiences give opportunities for growth. You learn what you can handle. Plus you learn more about what you love…or don’t love, what brings you joy and what draws your curiosity.
Spending time alone gives time for reflection as well without the distractions of being with someone else. It’s the perfect time to journal, read, meditate, jot down big ideas, or create art. All of these expressions of yourself reveal more about who you are. Take advantage of the time alone to get to know you…in deeper and more meaningful ways.
One important thing that I learned about myself last year, due to solo travels, is that I prefer exploring cities rather than national parks or wilderness areas.
Decision Making Skills Improve
Have you ever experienced this scenario on a shared trip?
“What do you want to do next?” “I dunno. What do you want to do?” And you spend precious time trying to decide where to go or what to do.
During solo travel YOU are the only one making the decisions about what to do next, which site to visit, when you want to take that tour and what restaurant to try. If you don’t make decisions, it doesn’t happen. And if you change your mind and do something else, no one complains.
Better decision making skills develop better problem solving skills as well. And when something doesn’t work out, you learn to roll with it and move on to another experience, knowing that everything happens for a reason and all happens as it should, at the right time.
Although many people don’t like to dine alone, I find it a fun experience. Sometimes the place I want to try works out. Sometimes, after walking to the restaurant, I discover that it’s closed for an unexpected reason. Or a storm rolls into the area and I don’t make it to ANY of my chosen restaurants. When those things happen, I find another café or wait out the weather.
In Springfield I coordinated a reservation at Café Cusco with afternoon tea at Gilmore’s down the street. I love the feeling of accomplishment that I get when making those arrangements.
Power of Anonymity
When traveling by yourself, you get to choose who you want to be…quiet and observant, outgoing and friendly or hysterically funny. No one knows you and there are no expectations about who you are. That kind of freedom can allow a side of you that few see to emerge. You can shine as your true self…or work on discovering who that true self is.
I tend toward friendly and observant. People watching while sitting on a park bench is fun for me. And while I’m not a chatterbox, I do enjoy meaningful conversations with locals and people from other parts of the US and other countries. It’s how we get to know each other and develop connections.
Solo travel brings fulfillment and empowerment. You learn to plan and execute a trip, meet challenges head on and make decisions. It’s an incredible way to build up confidence and grow as a person and of course, feel empowered to go on another solo trip.
My favorite kind of film is one where the characters’ lives are transformed by their journeys. Solo travel has that power to transform and create change. During my travels, I always leave a place different from the Cindy who arrived. I see the world differently. My life is more expansive and inclusive.
Do You Enjoy Solo Travel?
Do you go on solo adventures? If now doesn’t feel like the right time, don’t rule out the experience for another time in your life. Stay open to possibilities and opportunities. Which of the advantages above appeals most to you?
If you already enjoy solo travel, share with me your favorite experience so far! And have you discovered any other advantages from traveling on your own?
To more adventures, both shared and solo.
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