Being A Lone Traveller
Solo travel. It’s a concept that intimidates a lot of people. It’s understandable, the world is a big —and sometimes kind of scary —place. It might be daunting in the beginning, and no doubt it’s certainly easier for some people than it is for others. But being a lone traveller has its perks too; You’ll never experience the intricacies of a destination like you will when you visit it solo. Every experience, good or bad, is enhanced & amplified as a lone traveller.
Don’t be scared to walk alone. Don’t be scared to like it…John Mayer
So Why Travel Solo?
The world is simply too big to wait around for someone to go with you every time you want to go on an adventure!
- Your Trip Is Yours! While this might sound a bit self-absorbed or selfish it’s something you never truly appreciate until you experience solo travel. There are no more compromises about what to see or do, how much money to spend or where to sleep for the night. Whether you want to get up at 4am to shoot sunrises and sleep the afternoon away or blow a wad of cash; You’ll do what you want, when you want, how you want with a liberating degree of indulgence.
- You’re Forced To Integrate! As a lone traveller in a foreign land there is no way to retreat into your safe place, speaking a familiar language with familiar friends from a familiar culture. Instead you’re thrust into the local culture and accept it or not you’ll have an amazing experience.
- You’ll Learn About Yourself! Faced with difficult situations, high highs and low lows you’ll learn a lot about who you really are as a person. You’ll find that you’re stronger than you’d ever thought possible and able to overcome anything you put your mind to.
- You’ll Make New Friends! Without a fallback friend lone travellers tend to reach out to other solo travellers while on the road. As a lone traveller you’re much less threatening and more approachable. You’ll end up making new friends of both locals and other travellers alike. You’ll share intense, fun and memorable experiences together. Bond over a meal or exploring. And learn a lot about each other in a very short time frame…and then, of course, you ultimately say goodbye. But before you know it you’ll be messaging from halfway across the world planning to meet up on your next set of travels.
- It’ll Change You! You never come back from travelling solo as when you left. While this applies to all travel its doubly true for travelling alone!
If those reasons to venture out solo weren’t enough for you Forbes has another great list of reasons to travel alone at least once here.
My First Experiences As a Lone Traveller
It was raining that day in San Jose, Costa Rica when I first said goodbye to a travel buddy and set out on my motorcycle as a lone traveller. He with a broken down bike, replacement parts weeks away and me with a tight timeline & big goals. I remember it clearly.
Only knowing the basics of the language I felt like I was being tossed into the jaws of a hungry shark as I packed the last of my bags. Leaving my comrade and my comfort zone behind, I’d continue my journey solo.
I completed my 35,000km journey in one piece. Doing what I wanted, without compromise. I experienced kindness, culture, inspiration, and yes, some trying times. I also made new friends, tried new things, and grew as a person.
True to the points above though, I had the experience of a lifetime. I wouldn’t trade my journey for all the money in the world.
The Benefits of Being a Lone Traveller as told by Travel Bloggers:
There’s no doubt in my mind about the benefits of travelling solo. The experiences had and memories made will last a lifetime. But, if you don’t believe me, check out what these other travel bloggers had to say about traveling alone:
Thomas of www.tomplanmytrip.com recalls his first experience as a lone traveller.
My first steps alone were terrifying. You always feel stronger when a friend is wandering with you. When you’re a lone traveller though, nobody is there to help [or hinder] your choices. It’s a crash course in learning to trust your gut instinct.
On my way to Canoa, I sparked up a conversation with the only other backpacker on the bus. Hours later, late at night and in a unfamiliar place we decided to share a rundown room in a bad part of town. Crazy! In 3 hours’ time, I had made a new friend. I wasn’t alone anymore. and while I guess it would be different if I were taking the subway to Chatelet in Paris, this kind of thing plays out again and again as a lone traveller.
Life on the road and life at home are two completely different things. You can’t compare them. Your fear of solo travel is unfounded. You simply need to change your frame of reference. Because you’re sharing the same values, curiosities, experiences, and inspiration you’ll bond 10x faster than you would at home.
Traveling alone is the alternation between short but intense adventures and quiet periods of relaxation. its everything you could ask for as a lone traveller! We learn to appreciate the moments when we’re alone. We learn and accept ourselves, and suddenly, the silence following us is not awkward anymore.
My advice to would be solo travellers would be to stop being scared of something you have no experience with. Go out, spend your money on the road, make new friends and experience new cultures. There is nothing quite like the school of life.
Solo Travel for Growth
Somnath of www.travelcrusade.org describes for us his reasons for being a lone traveller:
Travelling solo is my preferred method of travel and I do so as compared to other modes of travel. I plan solo trips to mountains, places of natural interest and other offbeat destinations. The advantages of planning solo trips are expenditure, money savings and freedom. I feel that you can save some money if you travel solo rather than travelling with a friend or a close relative. I believe that we have our own freedom travelling alone as there is no other person to interfere in the trip and plan the journey as per your own convenience.
There are some disadvantages as well if you plan these trips with a close relative or friend. You need to manage and be cautious with every other stuffs like managing your baggage, belongings and extra security. There is also no one to back you up during the trip if you fall sick or become unconscious. But despite the disadvantages I feel that travelling solo is the strength of most people and individuals.
Travelling Alone for Discovery
Scott and Hailey of International Hotish tell us about solo travel in their lives:
The safety concern, being more of a target for would be criminals if you’re by yourself. An element of truth is found here. The bigger idea is to remember you must always be vigilant, in groups or solo. Realistically, countless people travel solo all the time, and very little crime befalls them. As long as you use your street smarts to stay out of certain areas and situations, you’ll be fine.
Loneliness can be overcome by knowing you’ll be sharing experiences with other travelers, usually other solo travelers. And for those times when you are alone, embrace the solitude of the moment. This is where the biggest learning lessons come from.
The word recreation is usually thought about as leisure. But if you really look at the word you can see it means re-creation. Traveling solo is true re-creation. Your person turns into something new through all your experiences. Getting lost, not speaking the language, being forced to talk to others, being forced to meet others, and trying new things is the definition of re-creation.
And just like anything else worth doing in life, traveling solo can be hard. But that’s what makes it memorable. You’re traveling for you, so make it the most potent life-changing moment and travel solo and discover what you’re really made of.
A Backpackers Perspective on Solo Travel
Craig, the backpacking mastermind behind www.norealplan.com tells us why he loves to explore as a lone traveller:
I have literally just packed my bag and gone to the nearest airport after waking up and deciding that was what was best for me at that moment in time. For me being a lone traveller gives you the sense and ability to just travel the way that is right for you, without worrying about anyone else.
Equally “travelling solo” doesn’t mean you’re ever truly alone. You can choose when you want to be social, and when you want some time on your own. I arrived in Indonesia all by myself and spent 2.5 months there. However, looking back at photos and videos you would never ever believe I was there “alone”.
I once took an amazing 4-day boat cruise to Flores and Komodo Islands in Indonesia. On the boat, there were 27 other backpackers, many of them I still keep in touch with today. A lot of those on the boat were lone travellers too, and I found it made them more approachable, easy going and sociable. It may sound daunting being part of a boat load of strangers, but you soon start to realise they’re pretty much in the same position as you; And this gives you something to bond over.
Traveling alone is simply amazing. You may think it’s not for you, but if you never try it, then you’ll never know. So just book a flight, find a sociable hostel and then just go with the flow. Trust me, you’ll have an adventure you won’t ever forget!
Ladies Travel (solo) Too
Lena of www.salutfromparis.com gives us her take on solo female travel:
My first solo trip was a long weekend in Istanbul and I would be lying if I said it wasn’t challenging. Rather it pushed me to my limits. But despite it all, I spent a fabulous weekend a mile out of my comfort zone and lived to tell the tale.
Gaining confidence even outside you comfort zone is the real benefit to me as a lone traveller. The inevitability to dare to do things if I don’t want to spend my vacation alone in my hostel room taught me what I am capable of. After getting along alone in the hustle of Istanbul or solo road tripping through Ireland, who would be worried about calling a pizza delivery service or visiting a concert alone?
But even though many travellers are pretending it is not a big deal, taking a solo trip for the first time is scary. If you are worried you’ll be lonely or even feel bored on your first solo adventure, my best advice is: book a city trip to a destination you have a genuine interest in. The excitement of visiting a place you’ve been dreaming of will wash away a lot of the awkwardness and worries.
Let Solo Travel Change Your Life!
So, the next time you become inspired to go on a trip, and you can’t find a friend to go with – do yourself a favor and book it! Stop fretting, pack your favorite luggage or travelling backpack and go! Everything will work out and you won’t regret it! Come back here afterwards and tell me you’re not addicted to travel!
Have you traveled alone? Have you been thinking of doing so? What do you think the biggest perk to solo travel is? the biggest con?
Drop a comment below, I’d love to hear what you think!
A terrific article Pat, I really enjoyed this one. The point I most agree with is that you have your own schedule, the freedom of just going with the flow and not worrying about what others want to do is so awesome. Also great work letting us hear from other travelers and get some perspective from their travels.
Hey Patrick… totally relate to this post! Especially your point, the world is too big to wait for someone to go on adventure with you… while I was initially scared out of my mind to travel solo, I was MORE scared that I would never find someone who enjoyed traveling as much as me! I made the leap, booked a one way ticket alone, and it was the best experience of my life. Glad to read someone else shares the same opinion!