The Value of Solo Travel
Updated: Apr 24, 2020
Don't get me wrong, there is a ton of value that comes with traveling with people you know, and I have great memories from trips with my family and friends. There are some amazing places like Paris and Rome that I might not have seen if I wasn't traveling with others.
However, I'm a big fan of traveling by myself. Since I think I'm in the minority, it's all the better reason to blog about it :-)
I think some aren't fans of solo travel because it runs contrary to "standard culture". Solo travel can be uncomfortable. Some people aren't used to their own company, and the idea of having to face ourselves by ourselves isn't exciting for some. Solo travel gives you ample time to think without distractions and makes you face your fears alone instead of in community. While for some these are negatives and reasons why they'd never want to travel solo, I argue these are some of the main reasons why traveling solo is such a valuable experience.
Because I'm a millennial and we love lists, here are some reasons I think everyone should travel alone at least once...
Freedom to Create the Itinerary
This is probably the biggest positive for those questioning whether or not to travel solo. The itinerary and schedule is totally up to you. It gives you the opportunity to learn what you really value and not have to compromise or waste time seeing things that don't interest you. I think the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam is a must see, but I wasn't interested in the Rijksmuseum. I went to the House Boat Museum, but I skipped the Van Gogh Museum without thinking twice. It also gives you the freedom to extend your time in a city you end up loving or you can leave a city early that you're not a fan of without having to worry about the opinions of others.
Meeting People We Otherwise Wouldn't
Traveling by yourself makes you more approachable. Most people are more likely to approach a solo traveler than they are a group of people. If you're on a group tour with family or friends, other than group introductions, you're likely to only share your opinions and conversations with the people you know. I'm sure the people you already know are great, but I think you're more likely to meet some really interesting locals and other tourists when you're traveling solo.
Some of the people you meet may even become lifelong friends, or at least Facebook friends. In Prague, I met a retired US air traffic controller who landed 3 presidents (fun fact: if I wasn't hired at Chima Travel, more than likely I would've entered the air traffic control trainee program) and in Madrid I met an Australian who basically upended his life in Australia to come to Spain and learn Spanish. If I had my own friends or family to talk to, I likely never would've been in a position to meet them or learn about their lives.
If you're trying to learn a new language, traveling solo can also put you in a better position to talk to locals and practice the language.
At the same time, solo travel gives you the opportunity to not feel forced to talk to others if you don't want to.
Experiencing Moments Undistracted
This might be my favorite thing about traveling solo. The idea of landing at a foreign airport without a plan and having to figure out how to get to my Airbnb and how to get around the city is exciting to me. (One of my friends said it's terrifying to them lol.) Walking through the streets of new cities and standing in front of famous landmarks while being able to process my own thoughts without interruption is definitely a positive for my introverted heart.
When we travel with others we spend a lot of time talking with them, listening to them, and looking at them, and rightly so because it's a shared experience. But traveling solo allows you to spend that time noticing more details around you and being more present in the moment.
Getting Out Of Our Comfort Zone / Learning More About Ourselves
I'm a fan of the quote, "A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing grows there". Obviously, I'd be more comfortable on a transatlantic flight sitting next to my sister instead of a stranger. Without the comfort buffer of traveling with people you know, travel can be more intense. It helps you learn more about yourself in a way that wouldn't be possible in the midst of your daily routine. Your senses will probably be heightened because you need a greater awareness of what's going on around you. It'll make you a better observer of places and people. You'll also have the time and space to reflect without distractions.
This is similar to having the freedom to create your itinerary, but I think you'll really appreciate the financial flexibility you have and the flexibility you have to call an audible and change plans at the last minute. Some travelers value spending money on fancy food while others value spending money on private tours. You have the ability to decide where and how to spend your money. It's also easier to book last-minute tours / activities.
During my first visit to London, I think I saw an ad getting off the Tube about an exhibition featuring the late, great Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace. When I checked the website for tickets, they were all sold out. I had to go through Expedia and tickets were still limited. Also, the only time I had to visit was the morning of my flight, so I was kind of rushed. Traveling alone gave me the ability to see only what I wanted to see then get to the airport. Some people don't like traveling rushed and I don't know anyone other than my mom who would've wanted to visit Kensington Palace with me.
When You've Done It Once It's Easier to Do It Again
After your first solo trip you'll feel a sense of accomplishment. If solo travel still isn't your thing after you're home, that's fine. But once you've completed your first solo trip I think it'll be easier to book another one if you find yourself wanting to go somewhere and can't find any travel companions. It'll give you a sense of confidence you may not have had before and you'll be more excited about the opportunities solo travel brings :-)
Just because nobody's available to travel with you doesn't mean you should scrap the trip. If you have a vacation in mind, whether you're traveling solo or with a group, email us or give us a call. We look forward to creating a custom adventure for you.