15 Reasons Why Everyone Should Experience Traveling Alone

Image via Unsplash/Jérémie Crémer

Traveling alone might seem counterintuitive to you; after all, you’re traveling so you can have fun, not so you can get all stressed out and self-conscious. But traveling by yourself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Even if you face the occasional stressful moment and at first feel uncomfortable doing things solo, by the end of the trip you’ll wonder why you didn’t do this sooner. Here are 15 reasons you should try traveling solo at least once in your life.

1. You Become More Independent

Once you’ve done something as huge as traveling by yourself, other things don’t seem as daunting. Having solo experience under your belt will make you eager to see what else you can handle alone, and you’ll find yourself totally unfazed by the idea of doing things that used to seem terrifying.

2. It’s Scary

We get few opportunities to face up to our fears during everyday life. Traveling alone is a great way to see what you’re made of and face rational fears like getting lost, handling money, communicating in another language and figuring out situations like missed trains.

3.You Learn To Rely On Yourself

When you travel alone, there’s no one to help you out or tell you what to do if something unexpected occurs. You have to figure everything out yourself, and while this can be daunting, the sense of accomplishment that comes from successfully conquering a situation all on your own is a great feeling.

4. You Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

People often feel uncomfortable doing things alone in public, like eating alone or sightseeing alone. However, taking the plunge and spending some time with yourself will make you more accustomed to being alone with your thoughts, and, although you might feel self-conscious at first, stepping outside your comfort zone will ultimately make you more comfortable with doing things alone.

5. You Feel A huge Sense Of Accomplishment

You didn’t just go to France; you went to France by yourself. No one else chipped in to your travel expenses. You made all the flight and hotel and train arrangements. You navigated from city to city. You saw amazing things. You didn’t lose anything or have anything stolen or make a total fool of yourself. You did all this by yourself, and that’s an awesome feeling.

6. It’s Freeing

Often, when we travel with other people, we feel a sense of obligation. We imagine that if we don’t see all the major tourist sites or do all the major tourist things (or conversely, if we want to do all those things but don’t think our traveling companions do), we’ll be scorned. We think that if we’re tired and just want to sleep late and spend the day in a park that we can’t do that because it’ll ruin everyone else’s plans. Well, when you travel alone, a whole new world of freedom opens up for you. You don’t have to worry about anyone else’s expectations, tastes, opinions or sleeping habits. You don’t have to adhere to a specific itinerary; in fact, you don’t even have to make an itinerary if you don’t want to. You can be totally spontaneous and discover things you might never have discovered if you had stayed cocooned in the safety of traveling companions.

7. You Can Do Whatever You Want

You don’t have to make compromises or cram 40 things into one day in order to satisfy everyone in the group. You can change your mind on a whim. You can spend an entire day eating only gelato, and no one can tell you you’ll regret it.

8. It Makes You More Engaged With The World Around You

Since solo travelers don’t have traveling companions to rely on, they often find themselves relying on the kindness of strangers. Whether it’s asking for directions, ideas on where to go or just striking up a random conversation with another traveler, you’ll be less insulated from the people around you and might end up being a lot more outgoing than you’d expected.

9. You Can Just Get Up And Go

Without having to coordinate around other people’s schedules, preferences and budgets, it’s much more simple to just decide where you want to go, pack your bags and get on a plane.

10. No Arguments

Sometimes even the best of friends can go through a tense period when they travel together. The close quarters, packed schedule, stress of being in a strange place and different food/hotel/sightseeing/activity preferences can drive a wedge between people, resulting in huffy silence and hurt feelings. When you travel alone, you don’t have to worry about any of this. Your friends will be waiting for you when you get back, and you can annoy them with the 12,000 pictures you took instead of getting into fights over whether to go to the beach or to a museum.

11. You Can Do Things At Your Own Pace

Some people like to speed-walk through cities and museums, keeping up a brisk pace that would have a professional Olympian gasping by the end of the first day. Others like to slowly stroll at a pace that would frustrate a snail. When you’re neither being dragged along nor held back by other people, you can see all the things you want to see without becoming exhausted or seethingly angry.

12. You Can Eat Whatever You Want

Instead of going to approximately eight different restaurants and lurking outside each one while trying to read the menu, then concluding that only two of the five people in your group can eat there, you can go into the first place you see, sit down and eat whatever you want. If you don’t feel like going to any restaurants at all, you can also do that. No one will be there to judge you for eating a diet composed primarily of bananas, croissants and cheese.

13. You’re On Top Of Everything

If you take a trip by yourself, you don’t have the luxury of being an oblivious doofus. You have to make sure you know where you’re going, when your train is, what documents you’ll need, how much money you have, whether your money has been pilfered, etc. Traveling alone makes you the ultimate organizational machine. If your skills in this area are lacking, they’ll probably improve quite a bit after taking a trip alone.

14. You Can Really Leave It All Behind

Everyone travels to “leave it all behind,” but when you’re traveling with 10 of your college friends or your entire extended family, what are you really leaving behind? You’re spending time with people who already know you; you all know exactly what to expect from each other. By traveling alone, you untether yourself from all aspects of your regular life and have time to discover new sides of yourself — and experience a completely foreign place without a support network.

15. You Have Something That’s Yours, And Only Yours

Traveling is an exciting and special experience, but when you share it with other people, it’s not entirely yours. That’s not to say that traveling with others isn’t great, but when you go alone, you have memories that no one else has. You’ve experienced things that are special to you and you alone.