Gathering the guts to book your first solo trip isn’t something that comes easy. It takes courage to take that first step into the unknown. Even though the solo travel trend is gaining momentum, on some level it completely goes against the grain of human nature. People just tend to feel more comfortable with a companion; a “safety in numbers” sort of mindset.
But once you do take that first step and venture out on your own, the feeling of empowerment is an unstoppable force you can carry back into your daily life.
I’d be lying if I said traveling solo was all smooth sailing. It definitely has its ups and downs. So, before you book your trip, prepare yourself for what lies ahead.
There’s a Good Chance You Won’t Make Any Friends
Going into a solo trip with the expectation of coming home with a gaggle of new friends sets you up for a big letdown. It’s very possible you won’t meet a soul on your trip that you connect with. The guest house you booked might be filled with unsocial people or groups not interested in interacting with others. Other travelers might be indifferent to your attempts at friendship. The folks you do talk with might be on a completely different wavelength. Prepare yourself to be “the outsider" and embrace the idea that solo travel sometimes really is solo.
It’s the Best Way to Meet New People
On the other end of the spectrum, solo travel can be the best way to meet new people. It’s true that you are much less likely to strike up a conversation with other random travelers if you’re traveling with friends or a partner. It’s a comfort to have a familiar face by your side and a crutch to lean on throughout the trip. However, like with crutches, although helpful, they also make you dependent.
Why would you risk the awkwardness of chatting up a stranger at a communal table when you could easily talk to your buddy? Why get to know the other people on your walking tour when you’ve got your own travel squad in tow? Traveling solo forces interaction with new people since you’ve got no one else to talk to. It also makes you look more approachable to others!
Planning is A Breeze
With no one else throwing in their two cents, you’ve got full control over your agenda. Sleep late, get up at the crack of dawn, eat where you want, run yourself ragged seeing as much as possible or lounge in a café all day – the options are endless when you have no one to please but yourself.
Having total freedom to plan your schedule is something that doesn’t usually happen in day-to-day life for most people. Chances are you’ve got a boss, a partner, or a family that all demand your attention. With solo travel, that all gets left in the dust. Embrace it on this trip. Don't be driven by what you think you "should" do, but instead embrace only the activities that you want to do.
Extended solo travel can sometimes take its toll, especially if you’re striking out in the Meeting New People department. Not having someone to share the fun and adventure with can be disappointing; that feeling tends to be even more pronounced if you see or do something particularly special or unique. Loneliness isn't always a bad thing. It forces growth and self-evaluation. Sometimes the most profound experiences happen when you're alone. But for some it can lead to bouts of depression. Be prepared for this aspect of solo travel. If you know you don't cope well on your own, plan to meet up with a friend after a few days or join a small group tour that gives you the flexibility of traveling alone with the safety net of built-in companions.
It’s an Unmatched Confidence Booster
There’s few things more satisfying than wrapping up a solo trip. You navigated a new destination, made all your own plans, solved problems by yourself, and lived to tell about it! Proving to yourself that you can hack it on your own does wonders for your self-esteem and reminds you that you can handle whatever situation comes your way.
Your Travel Budget Might Suffer
Having a pal to share the cost of a room or a taxi can be hugely helpful in saving money. If you’re traveling alone, however, you’re shelling out 100% for everything you need. Of course, it’s always possible to meet folks who are heading in the same direction or reduce accommodation costs by shacking up in a dorm room, but these options don’t exist everywhere. Make sure to do your research ahead of time and calculate total costs so you can save accordingly.
It Changes You
You won’t be the same after a solo trip and that’s a good thing. Solo travel helps you learn more about yourself as you face never-before-encountered situations. Never knew how you’d react to haggling in a market, getting duped by a sketchy taxi driver or cope with a communication breakdown? You probably will after traveling alone.
It Prepares You for the Rest of Your Life
Being comfortable flying solo doesn’t come naturally. Requesting a table for one is up there on the list of things that make people squirm. If you can learn to embrace the discomfort, you’ll discover the valuable lesson of self-dependency as well as the realization that you’re confident enough to break free from the pack.