Some people love to travel solo. It’s just natural for them. And some people love to travel with company. That’s what makes sense for those people. I’m the former type of person. There’s nothing better or worse about either type of travel. Both have their pros and cons. And if you’re one, you should try the other, just for the experience.
For most people, the thought of traveling solo is, well, terrifying. Or at the very least just sounds crazy. They have more experience traveling in a group, or at least with one other person, and that’s what they’re comfortable with. Lots of people have different reasons for not liking the idea of traveling solo. Some are scared of the bad guys out there. Some think it sounds boring. Some are afraid of being lonely.
But let me tell you a few things about traveling solo.
You can do whatever you want, when you want to do it. This is perhaps one of my favorite things about traveling solo. I’m one of those people who gets inordinately stressed out by planning and itinerary-making and making sure everyone’s happy with everything. If I’m the only one I have to please, things become a whole lot simpler. Once, on a backpacking trip, I woke up in London, was nervous to go to Paris, so I went to Belgium instead. On a whim.
You’re more likely to meet people, who are almost always very interesting. One of the best things about traveling abroad is all the people from all over the world you get to meet. If you’re with a friend, you’re unlikely to be able to see the people around you as potential friends. It’s nothing against friendship, but traveling with someone tends to put blinders on you to the other people around you. If you’re absorbed in your conversation with your friend, you won’t be starting a conversation with the person next to you on the train, or in the next bunk at the hostel.
You learn to pack light. This might just be me, but when I’m traveling solo, I’m so focused on where I am and what I’m seeing and experiencing that I don’t really care that much what I look like. This is a bit extreme, but over a five week trip I have one pair of jeans, three tank tops, two t-shirts, and a jacket, which I promptly lost. That’s all I had for clothes, besides necessities like socks and underwear. My focus was just so out there at everything else that I wasn’t looking much at myself. And it was very freeing.
You appreciate company in a new way. For those people who naturally travel with company rather than solo, this can be very beneficial. If you’ve only ever traveled with company, and then you travel solo, you can learn all the good things traveling solo can offer, but you’ll learn to appreciate your company even more the next time you travel. And for those people who naturally travel solo, after you’ve been traveling for a while, you learn to make friends on the road, because it’s nice to have someone to laugh with sometimes.
Most important and beautiful of all, you learn to trust yourself and to love your own company. It’s not easy. It took me a while into my trip to get there. But boy was it worth it. When you’ve only got yourself for company, you learn to love yourself more. No one likes spending all that time with someone they don’t like. You become your own best friend. You become comfortable in the silence of your own thoughts. You learn to trust your own judgment, because there’s no one else to consult. You learn to depend on yourself pragmatically and emotionally. And after a while of loving yourself, you become so grounded in who you are that home is wherever your feet are. Home is wherever you decide it is. Because you are home in yourself. What could be more beautiful than that.