15 Reasons It’s Awesome To Travel Alone

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I took my first solo trip when I was 18. Little did I know that just over a decade later, at the end of a long relationship, I’d become a full-time solo female traveler. Sure, there can be some downsides like loneliness and having nobody to keep an eye on your luggage when you want to pop to the bathroom at an airport. But those moments pale in significance compared to all the amazing experiences I’ve had because I’ve been on my own. Here are 15 benefits of traveling alone.

1. You get to know yourself better

Traveling alone gives you a real chance to get to know yourself better. And for many of us, that is daunting. But, trust me, it’s amazingly powerful. it doesn’t have to be all hippy-dippy navel-gazing. It can be as simple as tuning into your instincts to go for Greek food instead of your usual pizza (that your friends prefer). If you are traveling at a significant life point, take a notepad or do some journalling. Solo travel is a really good time to catch up with your thoughts.

2. You never have to compromise

You can go where you want, when you want when you travel solo. And you never have to compromise. Ever. Feel hungry at 3 pm? Take yourself for a late lunch without wondering if your travel partner is ready to eat. Fancy that geeky museum? Go ahead and go. Don’t underestimate the power of being able to do exactly what you want to do and when you want to do it. Guilt-free. Just think ME, ME, ME. Oh…and some more ME. In a world where we have to think about work colleagues, family, friends, or partners before we do most things, being selfish for a while is very liberating, especially if you’re normally a people-pleaser like me.

3. Your problem-solving skills will improve

Yes, it can be daunting having to tackle travel challenges on your own. From missed flights to taking the wrong bus to finding the museum closed. In a group, you have the security of being able to turn to others to help problem solve. And often the solution isn’t one you’d have gone for (pay a fortune for a new flight instead of taking it as a chance to stay an extra night). Alone, your skills get tested and I bet you do better than you thought. I’ve successfully navigated bed bugs and dengue fever on my own. Not fun at the time but I’m proud of myself now for handling these challenges. Related: 40 Travel Safety Tips for a Stress-Free Trip.

4. Your confidence will skyrocket

Your confidence and independence are going to increase tenfold from your solo trip. Traveling alone can feel stressful at times but every time you stretch yourself you become better for it. From problem-solving, like mentioned above, to simply braving lunch and museums on your own. Or striking up a conversation with strangers. Before you know it, out of the once fearful solo traveler will grow the most confident and independent version of you who can fly free on a whim and without fear. You might even gain some memorable travel stories.

5. People are more friendly to solo travelers

“We never get invited to join anyone,” a traveling couple once told me. And they were jealous of solo travelers for that reason. You’re much more approachable when you travel alone and as a result, people are much more likely to befriend you. I’ve had invites to parties, homes, and dinners so many more times when I’ve been on my own. I was befriended by a lovely group after I fell out with my travel companion and we parted ways.

6. You’re more likely to be sociable

Indiana Jo in a lift with travel friends floor selfie

You’re more likely to mingle with others when you travel solo. Unless you plan to spend your entire trip alone, you’ll reach a point where you need to take a deep breath and learn how to strike up a conversation with strangers. It’s an excellent life skill to learn and one you’ll acquire quicker than your travel peers who have the comfort zone of their group, partner, or travel friend to turn to. I’m certainly more social with strangers when I travel on my own. And isn’t that a huge part of travel – meeting other people? Not convinced? Read my guide: What To Do When You Feel Lonely Travelling Alone

7. You’re more likely to meet the locals

On the same topic, it’s easier to meet locals when you travel alone. Meeting other travelers is a great experience, but the real richness comes from chatting with someone local. Maybe you’ll practice the local lingo or chat sports with the taxi driver (when you’d otherwise be chatting with your travel partner). Or be the person who walks with the tour guide – they’re a true wealth of local info and I got some great restaurant recommendations for Venice chatting to my tour guide when I was solo.

8. You can immerse yourself fully in the culture

Indiana Jo with hello kitty doll in Japan
I make all sorts of friends as I travel alone.

I once went to Australia to meet some old university friends. We hung out the whole time and when I left I didn’t know much more about the history and culture of Australia than when I’d landed. Travel alone and you can immerse yourself most fully in the place you visit. Free of all distractions from home. Whether it’s simply paying full attention at an archaeological site or grabbing street food, you can go all in. Related: 50 Biggest Culture Shock Experiences

9. No painful group decision-making

Ever tried making a decision by committee? Asking 4 people where they want to go for breakfast can leave you debating the topic well until lunch. If you travel in a group you’ll spend a huge amount of your trip in time-sucking discussions about the smallest of things. Either everyone will be so polite with their “I don’t mind” that no decisions will be taken or there will be such strongly conflicting views that chaos and disputes follow. Meanwhile, your lone traveler will have skipped off to do whatever it is that they want to do.

10. Change plans if you want to

You can change your plans at a moment’s notice. If you meet a nice family on your day tour and they invite you to join them for dinner and a show that their local friend recommended, you can go along and gain an experience you didn’t even know about. Stay at the beach longer. Go and have a nap because the mood takes you. You can rip up your whole itinerary every day. Try and change plans when you have upwards of two people invested in the original itinerary and you’re probably going to hit a lot of roadblocks.

11. You’re more likely to get freebies

You’re more likely to be given freebies when you travel solo. I only learned this from experience. From free entry into sights to a free tour of a museum to free cake, wine, and coffee – every time I’ve been given free stuff or treated to the best seat in the house/on the bus, it’s happened when I’ve traveled alone. Oh, and those flight upgrades are much easier to get when you’re solo. And no, I don’t think it’s pity that causes people to be more kind. Most of my freebies came because someone thought I was being brave traveling solo or because it’s simply easier or cheaper to give one free coffee or entry ticket than treating a party of two.

12. No waiting for others

Waiting time can be multiplied by a factor of four for every additional person that a travel group has. I once recall having to wait over an hour as six people readied themselves in various ways just to go for lunch – from packing things away to checking something “quickly”. I tend to open up a travel book on my Kindle but still, it’s dead time when I’d rather be exploring. Travel alone and you can leave the room as soon as you’re ready. Same with not having to wait your turn for the shower, bathroom, hair dryer, etc. No waiting while other people pop into the gift shop you don’t want to visit.

13. There’s usually space for one

There’s usually at least one space left – on the bus, the train, in a café, on a tour. We’ve been conditioned to think “only one” is something bad when, in fact, it can be very positive when you travel. Only one can easily squeeze onto the airport bus, take the last seat at a famous bar in Key West, and grab the last remaining ticket to the Statue of Liberty (all happened to me). And, dare I say it, one person can much more easily get away with a bit of queue skipping.

14. You can stick to your budget

Ever been talked into spending more than you planned? Or, if you’re the one with the bigger budget, having to skip a dreamed-after restaurant because your travel pals don’t want to splurge? Guess what? When you travel you are in full control of what you spend, when you spend it you’re free to scrimp on the things that you don’t care about and spend on what matters to you most.

15. You’ll feel the benefits back home

The most obvious benefit of traveling solo is the relaxation that comes from indulging yourself with exactly the kind of trip you want whether that’s hiking volcanoes or napping on a beach. But the benefits of solo travel will benefit you far more than the initial high you have when you come home and tell your loved ones about your awesome trip. When you next meet a challenge at work or in your personal life, think back to your trip and all the things you accomplished on your own. Suddenly, you’ll realize you’re capable of far more than you think. Managing to complete a solo trip is an experience that will stay with you for life.

Have you traveled solo? Are you thinking of it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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I love this book, especially if you’re starting out as a solo traveler. Great practical advice and tips you can actually use to make your trip better.

The Solo Travel Handbook (Lonely Planet)
287 Reviews
The Solo Travel Handbook (Lonely Planet)
  • Planet, Lonely (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 168 Pages – 01/16/2018 (Publication Date) – Lonely…
Author - Jo Fitzsimons

Hi, I'm Jo, the writer behind Indiana Jo. In 2010 I quit my job as a lawyer and booked an around the world ticket. As a solo female traveller, I hopped from South America to Central America, across Asia, the Middle East and Europe. It was supposed to be a one-year trip but over a decade later, it's yet to end. I've lived in a cave, climbed down a volcano barefoot, spent years as a digital nomad, worked as a freelance travel writer, and eaten deadly Fugu. Now I'm home, back in the UK, but still travelling far and wide. You can find out more About Me.