Many people I have talked to about traveling have always asked me why would I ever want to travel alone? My answer to that question is, why wouldn't I want to travel alone?
It may seem daunting or lonesome at first when you think about solo travel but in reality, you're never really alone as you are surrounded by people. It also opens up the opportunity to do exactly what you want to do! You don't have to compromise and go somewhere else that may not be on your ideal sight-seeing location.
When you travel alone, you really open up the opportunity of interesting interactions and possibilities. Regardless of where you go, it forces yourself to break out of your comfort level and speak with the individuals around you, whether they be other tourists or locals. You never know who you may encounter and have an engaging conversation about a whole range of topics. A conversation with a local or other traveler could provide you with some great insider information for area destinations to check out that may not be in a travel guide or at some excursion outfitter.
It really makes you depend on yourself to figure things out about a new location and how to get around. Being on your own makes it easier for others to approach you as well. Someone may find it intimidating to approach multiple people speaking a foreign language to speak with them. As opposed to finding yourself sitting at a restaurant by yourself and someone sitting next to you decides to strike up a conversation with you. One of my favorite memories of going out club hopping in Iceland started this exact way. An opportunity I never probably would have had if I were closed off potentially by being at a table full of people I know.
Some people may argue that they may not feel safe if they are on their own, which is completely reasonable and it can be dangerous, though there are some ways to make it safer. I will be posting a blog in relation travel safety later which will address this understandable worry.
If you are worried that you may be the only one in an area traveling alone, you're wrong. In my travels so far, I have come across so many people who have been on their own their entire adventure. I have met some very interesting people who have been doing that for years at a time.
If you are looking to meet fellow solo travelers, my greatest recommendation is to get out of alienating hotels, and try for a better and cheaper option, hostels! Many people get uncomfortable at the mention of a hostel, which I blame the 2005 Eli Roth movie 'Hostel' for this. I can almost guarantee the odd's of being kidnapped and having your eye plucked from your eye socket is pretty minimal. If this happens to you, please let me know! Hostel's are a great environment to meet other like-minded travelers.
(Scene from Hostel below....Warning Graphic scenes!)
Benefits of a hostel over a hotel:
Cheaper (often significantly)
Filled with interesting travelers
Usually a kitchen/kitchenette (can save money and make your own meals!)
free breakfast provided most times
advertisements for tourist activities/some hostels form their own activities for travelers
single rooms, double rooms, dorm rooms etc
day space area to socialize with fellow travelers (sometimes even a bar!)
washer and dryer services (not always though)
Manager or worker generally has a passion for travel as well, as opposed to hotel worker who may just view it as a job.
These are just a few of the benefits of hostels over hotels. There will be a future post about hostel traveling and all of the benefits that this style of lodging can give you. I really feel that the regular American cringes at the mention of a hostel, but they really should be viewed as a great opportunity for travel. My main goal is to just get people to stop thinking hotels are the only option when traveling abroad especially, they really can be alienating if you want to fully experience a new area and culture.
Another aspect I wanted to touch on is if you are staying in a hotel in a foreign location, opt for a non all inclusive location, what fun is it to get meals, drinks, and entertainment from one location behind a walled in resort, the real exploring and culture you chose to go to that destination is beyond the resort walls.
While I am always happy and enjoy having friends join with on adventures, the difficulty lies with scheduling and planning. In today's world we are all busy and have varying schedules to work with. It can be nearly impossible for friends and family to coordinate a specific trip on the same dates with conflicting schedules. People will always say we will find time to organize a trip in a couple years, but sometimes saying that we will find time is all that ends up happening. Sometimes you just gotta go and do it by yourself. Why skip out on a location you REALLY want to see just because you have no one to go with you. Don't let that ruin your aspirations to visit that area. Whenever I have a location I really want to travel to, I will advertise it to friends and family, and if no one bites, that doesn't stop me!
My goal of this blog post is to attempt to help people open their eyes to the possibilities of solo-travel. It is really an awesome experience, and I think most people are capable of attempting this type of travel. I was nervous about it the first time I did it, but after that first time, I was looking forward to the next solo adventure. If you are really unsure of trying this, there are a few options I would recommend trying first.
Already on a trip with people?
Try going out a day by yourself, doesn't have to be the entire day, even just for a couple hours. This is a great way to experience wandering on your own in a pretty safe way.
Go somewhere familiar or within your own country first
Try going somewhere familiar or in your same country (for most people who may read this blog are from the United States, try visiting another state on your own for a week. This is how I obtained my first solo travel experience when I went to Austin, TX for a week back in 2012.)
Jump off the deep end.
Book a ticket to a new country and just do it.
I hope that this article provides some insight and some inspiration to some people to give solo travel a try, or just to start to travel more! It is really a rewarding and humbling experience, not to mention addicting! You will learn a lot about yourself, create some great memories, and if you do it right, meet some amazing and interesting people.
Websites that provide awesome hostel details and information: