Why I enjoy traveling alone

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Do it for YOU! At first, the thought of traveling alone may sound scary and boring. Many people do not consider traveling solo because of the fear of loneliness, the looming danger of “what if something happens to me.” These fears are legitimate concerns, but traveling alone can actually offer life-changing opportunities that do not present themselves when traveling with someone or in a group. Whether you are an introvert, extrovert, an experienced traveler, or new to adventure-taking, traveling alone is something everyone should try at least once.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Having a travel partner definitely, makes traveling easier in many ways. Especially in difficult situations, you have a person to consult, you are never alone. If you travel with someone you know, there is no imminent need to interact with strangers - it is easier to just stay together. However, solo traveling opens doors to meeting new people in a natural setting. It is easier to approach strangers and be approached by strangers when you are by yourself. Making new friends in a new place is a great way to learn the most about where you are. Walk into the nearest shop and ask the clerk their favorite thing to do in their town, then go do it. Talk to the person sitting beside you at a cafe and learn about them and their culture. You may even get invited to come with them to their next engagement and see behind the scene in a new place. Be safe and smart and you never know what you may find.

Dive Fully Into A New Environment

When you travel in a group, you eat and drink together in a similar way you might at home. In some instances, you might as well be at home because you are wrapped up in your same group of friends. When you travel alone, you have only you. You are forced to create your own “home.” You will have conversations you have never had before. You will smell new smells. The colors you see, the sounds you hear will leave a more vivid imprint on your experience. That is how you grow.

When nothing is familiar, you will observe people more deeply, adapt behaviors you did not know you could do, and become one with the new environment. I met a travel buddy on the road who taught me her home was on her back. Wherever she went, she brought her home with her. This is the attitude I try to encompass when I travel alone. Be yourself and be open to meeting new people and you will feel at home everywhere you go.

me in a double chair for King and Queen at the beach of Clifton near Cape Town

Strengthen Your Personality

When was the last time you listened only to your thoughts and your desires? If you are rarely alone in your day-to-day life, you will be pleasantly surprised by what you will learn about yourself on a solo trip. When you have only you to worry about, you can follow your own pace. You are in full control of where your journey takes you. Without the distraction of others, you may walk down a road that leads you to a beautiful sunset, or stay longer at the pub and meet someone you enjoy talking with.

If you can successfully travel alone, you will come home empowered and inspired to try new things. Solo travel gives you the confidence that you can do anything you set your mind to. Encountering new situations that you have never had to deal with before strengthens your problem-solving skills, which sharpens your character and improves your self-esteem. Following the crowd easy, but paving your own path teaches you traits like communication skills and decision-making. Being left to your own devices, you have a stronger willpower to make good decisions and stick with them. Traveling alone also instills you with values like independence and the capability to grab life by the horns and steer in whatever direction you choose.  

Less Stress, More Explore

When you are traveling by yourself, tough decisions are solely your responsibility. When I travel with friends, we have a “stop light rule.” For example, when deciding to go on a particular hike each person voices whether they really want to do the hike (green), don’t want to do the hike (red), or don’t care if we do the hike (yellow). Traveling with a group requires planning and sacrifice and strong communication skills, otherwise, drama ensues. While this is a great voting system that has always worked for me when traveling with a group, solo travel means you can always do what you want to do 100% of the time. The pace of movement, duration of stay or resting are your own choice. Your next move or destination is flexible and spontaneous.

Traveling Alone Does Not Have to Mean Lonely

There is a world of life around you. Whether it is the man on the bus beside you or the wildflowers you smell on a walk, life is all around you. Experiencing life forms in a new way will bring refreshingly new inputs. Make choices for yourself and do not blindly follow others and you will breathe new life into your bones. Do not wait any longer to go to that place on your bucket list. You will find comfort outside your comfort zone and new experiences that will change you in positive ways. Jump right in - book that solo flight to the place you dream about and follow your heart around every turn. You will come back a better version of you.  

Adrian Sameli founder and editor of aSabbatical.com
Travel mindfully to meet local people around the world and embrace new cultures. Get inspired and inspire others!