5 reasons why you should travel solo

And the same amount of reasons why it sucks

I was traveling by myself since I was a teenager — my dad lives on a different continent and I was spending summers roaming around the US by myself. Later I met some friends, got a boyfriend and traveled mostly with other people, though even while being a relationship I went for surfing trips or Workaway by myself because my partner didn’t want to. Since then, a few boyfriends later I am single and now have traveled by myself a couple of times again. It’s weird. It’s hard, but also rewarding.

Why it’s worth it:

  1. You meet a lot of new people. When with your significant other or a group you are closed to a number of encounters, so you hear fewer stories, get to know fewer interesting people. There are so many surprises happening when you’re by yourself and just going with the flow and randomly met travelers. You can make friends more easily, open up to others and notice things you wouldn’t if someone was with you.
  2. You learn a lot about yourself. Some of these things will be amazing (I never expected I could cook so well! /make friends so easily!/ enjoy the night bus ride! etc.), some will be harder (I felt bad at that place because people were too loud/someone reminded me of my ex/I didn’t have space to practice sports etc., but all of them will help you understand yourself better hence become happier with who you are.
  3. You are becoming more self-confident. Knowing you can travel through a foreign country without even knowing the language, conquer your fears, deal with the unexpected you learn to trust yourself more. It’s not that scary to talk to your boss or tell your friend what you honestly think about that new idea. You experienced a lot, you know your worth.
  4. You are free to go wherever you want for how long you want. No need for compromises, doing something you don’t want to only for the sake of others. You want to walk all day, see all the museums and pass out at 8 PM? Cool! You want to party all night? Go for it! You’re your own guide.
  5. It broadens your life perspective. Every travel does. You see how other people live, you see other cultures, other possibilities. You learn there is much more to the world than what you were taught.

These things are all great. Really. But there is another side of the story to it. Most of these cool things have their downsides plus there are additional things that make it harder.

  1. You are forced to step outside your comfort zone all the time. Like really, all the time. Things go wrong. Things you didn’t expect happen and you have to figure out what to do about them. And you do. Sometimes you cry. Sometimes you just push through. Sometimes you need to ask for help. Things you wouldn’t have to do when with someone or at home. And it’ hard and sometimes you simply want to crawl into your own bed and promise yourself never to travel solo again.
  2. Your travel friendships are in fact shallow. You could have shared the most intimate stories of your life with a person in a hostel, but this connection usually doesn’t last much longer than the trip. You might even be able to meet them again once or twice, but most of the people you meet, you will never meet again nor even would fancy to.
  3. You get lonely. No matter how many people there are around you and how much fun you are having, it does get lonely. You want to share these things with someone close to you and they’re not there. Views, food, adventures. Sending pics and sharing a little later is nice, but it’s not it.
  4. It’s harmful to the environment. Every travel is. No matter how not touristy you’re trying to be, you’re still a tourist and still, you’re not doing any good to local communities by being there (yes, there are exceptions, but you’re probably not one of them).
  5. It’s an easy form of escaping reality. When you know you can do it, it’s becoming just so easy to travel anytime something is wrong in your life. You’re always only a plane ticket and a couple of hours away from a completely different reality, places, people.

Still, I do travel solo. Even when I keep repeating I don’t want to do it anymore. The travel bug got me. In my case, I think it’s because of escaping the reality aspect. I believe somewhere else is going to be better. I will keep learning more. I will become more of a whole person. My life will change after I travel to X, Y or Z. It is said you should seek within, not outside to find happiness. Traveling also helps you seek within, it’s just more effort, but also more satisfaction I guess. Anyways, I do recommend traveling solo. For once. And as for me — I don’t want to travel solo anymore, but you know, we will see ;)

Works in Tech 💻 into art, culture and psychology. IG & Quora @alaisontime