Traveling with family and friends can be incredibly rewarding, offering experiences and laughs that can bind us for a lifetime. So it might seem that traveling alone would be a less enriching experience; without our favorite people to share it with, how could it compare?
And yet many veteran travelers have memories of extraordinary, eye-opening solo trips, of glorious days when they set out alone and found and saw and noticed things they might never have done otherwise.
Why travel alone? Consider finding out for yourself. Here are reasons why you should travel alone at least once in your life.
You can learn more about who you are.
When you venture out into the world on your own, you eventually need to face who you are, what you care about and what you want to do with your time. Certainly the literature of our species bears this out, with a journey at the center of many of our greatest and most significant myths, novels and memoirs. Traveling with others you will find great friendship, diversion and fun; but traveling alone you might find yourself.
Some sensations seem unique to solo travel.
Solo travelers often report instances of mundane happenstance offering up strong and memorable emotions. Imagine waking up in an empty hotel, where nearly no one knows you are there, with the hours ahead lying entirely unscripted and your sense of possibilities is nearly exploding. As Freya Stark once noted, “To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” It is a unique and heady experience.
You can find your own rhythm.
Perhaps the most striking thing about traveling alone is that your schedule is entirely yours to decide. Our everyday lives can be a tyrannical grind of accommodating other people’s schedules, and this can easily carry over to leisure time as we try to pace our vacation days to adapt to the preferences of the group.
Traveling alone, you can walk out of a movie you don’t like, stay for hours in a museum no one else you know would care about, ride an elevated subway to the last stop just for the sights, read a book in your hotel room or whatever you can come up with that would seem a waste of time to almost anyone else. Following your own rhythm without compromise might not be possible in daily life, but it’s great, indulgent fun on a solo vacation.
You’ll focus more on the destination.
When traveling alone, the lack of familiar people to interact with forces you to engage much more directly with your surroundings—on where you are rather than who you’re with. This is probably why many travelers report more vivid memories from solo trips; their attention is absolutely focused on their surroundings.
You can change plans on a dime.
When traveling in a group, changing plans can be rife with interpersonal, financial and other concerns. When traveling alone, you can simply make a decision and move on. This can apply to decisions both small and large, from deciding where to eat to choosing whether to rent a car and leave town.