I travel solo most of the time and I guess most of you know that. But, what you might not know is why I travel that way! In fact, this is one of the common questions people ask me. Why do you travel alone? Don’t you get bored? Don’t you feel scared? Who will take your pictures? And there are many other questions that a lot of curious people ask me.
Well, the answer is simple. I started traveling solo because of necessity and today, I travel solo because I totally love it. Solo travel has helped me evolve as a person and as a traveler and here are reasons from my personal experience on why you should travel solo too. And I believe that this works irrespective of age, sex, marital status or family status.
You lose your fear
A lot of us do not travel alone because we are scared. There is some level of fear in all of us about the unknown. I was scared on my very first solo trip. But, you know what, right on the first day, I learnt to let that fear go. Over a period of time, I faced many situations and learnt to improvise and adapt. Over a period of time, I forgot about being scared. If you travel solo, you will lose your fear and travel the way you like. And over a period of time, it helps boost your confidence levels too.
You learn to break the ice
With friends or family, we always have a comfort factor. Sometimes, this comfort factor makes us stay inside our cocoons. If you travel solo, you learn to interact, you learn to improvise and you learn to break the ice. After all, we humans are social creatures and need to talk. This opens the path to friendships, richer experiences and a better understanding of the local culture. Not to say, you might find ways to save on cost too.
You can travel your way
Each of us have so many whims and fancies and when you travel together or in a group, these whims and fancies multiply and force you to travel in a way that is unlike your true style. Sometimes, people buckle and do it under pressure. Sometimes, people like others to show the way. Sometimes, people get into arguments. Budget, dates, travel style, activities, destination and so many things get affected by this.
If you want to take up that volunteering program in Africa, if you want to take cooking classes in Thailand, if you want to go diving in the Red Sea, if you want to do that shoe string backpacking trip in Europe or any thing else that you want to do, travel solo.
You can travel whenever you want
In this fast paced world, all of us are making the run between work, home, family and friends. When it comes to planning a holiday between people from different worlds, we almost always have a scheduling nightmare. This was one of the main reasons why I took to traveling solo and this is one that I hear a lot of my readers crib about. When you travel solo, everything runs on your schedule. You have a deadline at work, you don’t travel. You can get that 3 week leave from work after you finished your project, you can travel. It is as simple as that. When you travel on your own, you are the master of your calendar. All you then need to worry about is getting leave and getting the best tickets to that destination.
You will make new friends
One of the biggest perks of traveling solo is making new friends. To save costs, you find a travel partner or a room mate. To get company, you will start interacting, get out of your skin and meet people. For group activities, you will come across so many new people. You will find interesting company for your dinners. You will meet a boy/girl and might ask them to be your date. You will make new acquaintances during your bus/train/plane travels. Well, we can make new friends even when we are traveling with others, but when you travel solo, the need to interact is higher and hence the percentage chance of making new friends is significantly higher.
In my days of solo travel, I have made friends from all over the world. When I travel to their country, we make sure to catch up, have a beer or a meal or sometimes even end up traveling together. At other times, they come and visit me when they are exploring India. And thus the friendship remains in touch.
You will get smarter
This is one of the underlying truths of traveling solo. You become smarter. Period. You learn to stay safe. You learn how to make the best use of resources. You know it is important to learn a language. You know how nice it is to immerse in a local culture. You know what you should do to control your finances. You learn how to survive as a vegetarian. You learn how to interact with people from different parts of the world. In simple terms, you become a global citizen. And all of this is fast tracked as you are forced by your situation to learn quickly. You can call it expedited learning or fast school! (Wow, that sounds cheesy!)
You learn to trust strangers
We miss our people the most when we are in trouble. We think…Wouldn’t it be nice if I had someone close to take care of me when I am sick or a shoulder to cry on when something bad happens.
There are a lot of good people out there who want to do good and help people. When you travel solo, you will learn to identify such people and start to trust them. And you will find it extremely handy when you fall sick and/or are in need to serious help. Sometimes, you might lose your passport. At times, you might lose your way. Or you might be stranded in the middle of nowhere. If you can learn to trust strangers, you will always find a way out.
Traveling solo is not always rosy. It does have some disadvantages.
You yearn to speak your language
This is one of my main problems of traveling solo. I hardly ever get a chance to speak in my native tongue or any other Indian language that I speak. All I have to make do is speaking to family and friends over Skype or on the phone. At many times, I wish I had someone who could speak my native tongue.
You spend a bit more Unless you find yourself a partner, you will always end up spending more. This could be for accommodation or for that hired taxi. But, then hostels and places with shared accommodation always come in handy. And if you are older, you can find yourself singles holidays for over 50s. There are so many ways to offset that cost.
But, trust me, you will never have any trouble taking selfies. I don’t use any selfie sticks, but I always manage to find someone who is kind enough to click my picture.