The first time I truly traveled alone was around 5 years ago. I didn’t really know what to expect, and how it would be to face the world equipped with a small trolley and backpack. Well, it was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had, so I did it again two years ago.
However, my two short solo trips are nothing compared to my sister’s, who has been traveling the world alone for 1,5 years now. That’s why I asked her for some input to create this video, bringing you 8 benefits of traveling alone.
1) More flexibility
When you’re standing at a crossroads, there is no one you need to discuss with which direction you should go. You can take this literally and metaphorically, by the way. There are no other people whose needs need to be met when it comes to travel decisions.
This adds a lot of flexibility to your travel experience because there’s only one person you have to take into account: you. This may seem selfish, but hey: you’re not bothering anyone either with your needs and demands. ‘Live and let live’ is the motto here.
2) You’ll save time
Another benefit of traveling alone is that you don’t have to spend time negotiating and discussing where and when to go. Especially if you travel with a group, you often spend hours talking about where to go next.
Let alone the time it takes to assemble the group, to wait for everyone to finish preparing for the day, and these time-consuming conflicts that might occur when the group fails to agree on issues related to the journey.
Traveling alone gives you the luxury to come and go whenever you want, where ever you want to, without wasting time on dealing with your co-travelers.
3) Less nagging
I often see friendships and even relationships between lovers getting damaged while on vacation. When you’re traveling together you suddenly find yourself in a completely different setting and you spend much more time together than you normally do.
The negative behaviors of your travel companions will be more prevalent. One of these behaviors is called ‘nagging’, which is the constant harassment of another person to get something done.
If you’re traveling with a control freak, this person most likely wants to plan everything in detail and advance, like the things you’ll be doing every day from morning to evening, the hotels you’ll sleep in and transportation.
This isn’t a bad thing, but if you’re more like me you also just want to chill and see where the journey takes you. The constant demands for security of your travel companion will come off as nagging. And in that case, you might want to consider traveling alone.
4) Less drama
Nagging can lead to drama. Also, where people come together there’s often drama as well. Especially when there’s a mix of men and women, we’ll see that the drama factor of the journey increases dramatically. No pun intended.
Drama wastes time and energy, and I remember that my family vacations in Spain, the traveling I did with girlfriends, and even my last 4-day-trip to London with a group of friends had a respectable amount of drama in it. Traveling together can be great fun, but if you travel alone you’ll probably have less drama and more time to enjoy the world’s beauty.
5) You’re more open to strangers
When you travel in a couple or group you’ll be surrounded by a privacy bubble that keeps people on a distance, because they assume that you rather mind your own business as a travel unit.
But when you travel alone you’re more vulnerable and more receptive. This is often picked up by other travelers and local people and makes it more attractive for them to approach you.
When I traveled alone in Indonesia a couple of years ago, I was approached by strangers every day, which resulted in a lot of fun and visiting places I’d otherwise never have visited. So, traveling alone sets you up to connect with other people in a broader sense. Ironic when you think about it.
6) It’s easier to be yourself unapologetically
Another benefit is that you’re not part of your fellow travelers’ expectations. When you travel with people you already know, they have a certain image of you and expect you to act accordingly. This might hold you back to be yourself unapologetically in new situations because you’re still tied to the expectations of others.
You might have behaviors and habits of your own that you rarely show to the outside world. These could be your need for reading a book in solitude or doing morning rituals like prayer, meditation or smoking a few cigarettes with a glass of whiskey. Whatever these habits are, they might evoke resistance with your co-travelers because they don’t match the image they have of you.
When you travel alone, it’s easier to be yourself unapologetically, because people don’t know you anyway. To them, you’re a clean slate.
7) More time for introspection
This one doesn’t need much explanation. When you travel alone, even if you engage a lot with other travelers, you’ll most likely spend a good chunk of time by yourself; especially during the nights. Unless, of course, you’re so promiscuous that you have a string of people warming your sleeping bag every night.
When you’re alone, you have more time to search the soul and reflect on life. The Stoics encourage you to write a journal every day. Traveling alone is a great opportunity to do this.
8) Overall more genuine experience
Personally, I think traveling alone has been a more genuine experience, simply because it’s an interaction between you and the unfamiliar places you visit. When you travel with other people, your attention is often directed to each other. When you travel on your own, your attention is directed to the world around you.
My experience is that my senses pick up way more when I travel alone. Ironically, the more I pick up, the more I desire to share this with other people. This is an observation made by Chris McCandless, a famous American adventurer who died traveling in Alaska and wrote the following line a few weeks before he died and I quote: “happiness is only real when shared.”