From time to time we all need to take a vacation to relax, gain perspective, escape the monotony of life, or just experience a new destination and culture . Over the years I have taken many trips around the world, with others and by myself. There is a time and a place for both styles of traveling; however, I will share with you the 5 perks that I have discovered about traveling solo.
Design Your Own Experience
“Let’s all meet downstairs for breakfast at 7 am.”
“Why are you late?!?”
“Stay together, EVERYONE!”
“Hurry up! We have a schedule to keep!”
“Put that down! We have thirty minutes to shop starting at 3 o’clock!”
“Follow me! This is gonna be so much fun!”
“You’re all going to be thanking ME later.”
I am sure we have all heard some similar rendition of these quotes from the “So-Called Leader” of our travel group. Having to follow a plan, just because you are traveling together with people, can be an annoyance for many travelers. People have different interests and what is a good time for you, may not be a good time for me. Should we have to make sacrifices for the betterment of the group? I say, “No, screw the group!” Traveling on your own puts all the power in your hands. You get to decide what, when, where, and how you do things. This is perfect for those free-spirited people who love to wander around, read a book, and take things at their own pace. You will never have to deal with the dreaded question, “Where do you want to eat?” and the consequences of having to hear about how terrible one person thought your choice of a restaurant was. Solo travel gives you the opportunity to make your trip special and truly yours.
Time to Think
It is often quite difficult for most people to reflect upon their lives or problem solve while a friend is constantly chattering into their ear. Solo travel provides one with ample time to think, gain perspective, and discover solutions to issues they may be experiencing in their daily lives. This has happened to me a few times in just the past few weeks. I have discovered the importance of living in the moment. I have allowed the ghosts of my past and my anxiety about the future to dominate my thoughts for far too long, and because of this I have missed out on the pleasure of being present in each moment. I have also been able to reach a more peaceful mental state. The constant chatter that used to consume my mind has come to a sudden halt. This has allowed me to be more at ease and creative. Sometimes peace and quiet is exactly what we need, and traveling without the company of others affords you that time.
Rest and Relax
Constantly being on the go is not what I would define as a relaxing vacation. However, a nap in a hammock, reading a book on a park bench, people watching from a table at a quiet café, and wandering the streets of a new city can all be restorative and relaxing. Solo travel is the perfect opportunity to catch up on much needed rest, finally finish that book you started six months ago but never had time to finish, or simply take early morning walks in order to start your day off with the songs of the birds chirping as the sun begins its assentation into the heavens.
Meet New People
Solo travel challenges many us of to overcome our own personal fears, particularly shyness. At times, we all need someone to talk to, and opening yourself up to new people in a new land is a great part of traveling alone. It is interesting to have random conversations with the locals and other travels. There is much that can be learned from these chance meetings. You may find out about a hidden gem that you simply must check out, you may learn more about the culture of the place or are visiting, or you may stumble upon the love of your life. The point is to be cautiously open to new people when traveling. Not everyone has the best of intentions, but the majority of people who may approach you or you may approach are worth chatting with.
In my opinion the most significant benefit of solo travel is the lack of unwelcomed drama that others have the tendency to initiate. Nearly every trip I have taken with people has been blemished by someone’s inability to maintain control of their emotional state. My usual thought in these situations is, “Seriously! Don’t you have a bottle to stuff that into? I really, really don’t care right now!” I know that may sound a bit harsh or insensitive, but given the circumstances, others should be more considerate of my time and money that I have spent to travel, and they should address their issues at a more appropriate time and place. The extent of the damage caused by other’s dramatic outbursts has ranged from wasting ten minutes of my vacation listening to someone blah, blah, blah about their feelings to very nearly ending a friendship. I finally came to the conclusion that humans are emotional beings, and they are highly unpredictable, and in order to maintain positive vibes and ensure that I have a pleasant experience while traveling, I must go it alone. In the words of Mary J. Blige, “ So tired, tired of all this drama. You go your way, I go my way. I want to be free.” Preach Mary, PREACH! If you are one who thrives off of drama, then solo travel is definitely not for you, but if you are anything like I am, give solo travel a shot. You may be surprised at how enjoyable it can be.
Traveling without the company of others is not something anyone should fear. It can be so much fun, and you may even learn something unexpected while doing it. It is definitely worth trying. It may seem daunting at first, but it is a great way to build up confidence while enjoying the beauty of our planet. So give it a try!