Why I Travel Alone (And Why You Should Too)

Why I Travel Alone (And Why You Should Too)

These days the thought of travelling alone doesn’t strike me as odd.

The ultimate reason why I travel alone is probably one many people can relate to: I wanted to go and visit X, Y and Z countries and there was no one else to go with.

I started out travelling by myself because I was alone in my decision to do so.

This may seem a bit of a harsh reality. But it was my reality and I had to come to terms with it pretty sharpish if I was going to make any big changes to my life.

Why I Travel Alone

I first decided to travel alone back in 2011. In the months before I boarded that plane, I packed up my entire adult life into boxes and squeezed myself back into my childhood bedroom in my parent’s house to save money and plan.

I uprooted myself from a comfortable, happy lifestyle and traded it in with a round-the-world plane ticket and a whole world of unknowns.

Mad as it seems, the urge to travel had been blooming inside me for several months. The desire became so strong that it took over my heart and mind, driving me forward through the motions of quitting my job, ending a relationship and giving notice on my house rental.

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And when the urge to travel beckons that loudly, you can’t help but answer its call.

Because this was a purely personal decision, the idea to ask someone along for the ride didn’t cross my mind. This was my challenge, my vision, my path to see wherever it led me. Everyone else was seemingly settled in jobs, relationships and other aspects of their lives. To me, it made no sense to create another tumbleweed out of a deeply rooted tree.

So I forged on alone.

I have never viewed myself as brave for doing so. To me, it seemed like a no-brainer to buy a guidebook and hoist on my backpack.

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Here’s Why You Should Too

I have identified five reasons why I can say that enjoy travelling alone.

It’s a funny position to be in; admitting that you like to do stuff alone. A lot of people may struggle with that concept, which is totally fine. Even if it was just a weekend trip, there are many people out there who would never consider travelling solo.

And even if you’ve travelled by yourself before, you may not relate to any of the following. Ultimately, our solo journeys are uniquely personal.

My Trip, My Rules

Of utmost importance to any solo traveller is the freedom they allow themselves to follow their own hearts. Travel can be confronting, challenging and downright difficult sometimes.

Try dealing with all of that whilst on a journey that doesn’t sit well with you.

To be more specific: you are about to embark on a period in your life when you only have to answer to yourself. This incredible selfishness is allowed and even encouraged in the travel sphere.

If you want to make food the biggest focus in your trip, then pig out. If you are a culture vulture and museums, arts and crafts float your boat then you will naturally gravitate to the kinds of things you like to see and do.

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Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory

Being true to yourself whilst on the road allows you to constantly hone your trip to suit you. Not keen on a particular city or hating your accommodation? Don’t worry about it; who else are you trying to please apart from yourself?

Having someone else tagging along means you have to compromise on all your decision making. Instant nose wrinkle.

Embrace your alone time and sculpt your perfect trip.

Waiting For Other People May Mean I Never Go

As I mentioned in the opening to this post, waiting for other people to join me on my original trip would have meant it was a complete non-starter.

Whilst the thought of travelling with your bestie is awesome, it’s unfortunately not the reality for most of us. Not every best friend can be in the position to drop their lives and walk off into the sunset with you.

If you hang around sniffing out potential travel buddies then the chances are you won’t end up going. You’ll be using their presence as your comfort blanket and their excuses will become the reason why you can’t go.

For me, that risk was one I was not willing to take.

Being reliant on someone else for my travel dreams didn’t sit well with me. It would have defeated the object of my trip being exactly that: mine.

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Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory

Because A Challenge Is Good For Me

Who said it was easy to travel by yourself? It certainly wasn’t me.

I’ve missed an international flight, lost personal belongings, lost myself, gotten scrapes and bruises, sweated a lot and struggled with foreign languages and cultures.

Things go wrong on the road all the time and I get into an almighty funk about it for a couple of days. Eventually, I grab myself by the shoulders, give them a good shake and get the hell on with things.

At the end of the day, what’s the point of travel if it echoes the life – your life – that you’ve left in those familiar places on the other side of the world? You’ve come to explore, to experience and to learn.

All of these lessons aren’t necessarily about the physical places that you travel (although some places certainly can be difficult to travel). The hardest lessons to learn will be about the actual act of travel: the pitfalls, the quirks, the frustrations.

Ultimately, the unique way travel makes you feel about yourself and the world cannot be learned from your old sofa back home.

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Santibanez el Alto, Spain. Credit: Ana Nikacevic.

Now Is The Right Time

‘But it’s never the right time!‘ I hear you cry.

Exactly. Nine times out of ten there will be several road blocks standing in your way. What else simply falls easily into your lap in life? Not much, when you think about it.

Your yearning to travel may be marred by the intimidating path you must take to extricate yourself from your current life. Take each one as a mini-project with an end goal and deadline. Map out the action you need to take and the resources you will need. Breaking your obstacles to travel down isn’t supposed to make them feel numerous, but simply easier to deal with in bite sized chunks.

For example: if you want to travel for a short while, say a month or six weeks, then you’ll have to have a chat with your boss about your options, consider a short term sub-let on your house or room, ensure bills are ready to go with direct debits to cover them.

Now is as good a time as any to travel.

So what’s really stopping you?

I Learn More About Myself

Over the past five years of travel I have had the opportunity to give myself a jolly good scrutinise.  On the road you have to face up to yourself day in and day out and test your mettle in a variety of different situations. Whether or not you win some or lose some, you wind up with a sense of empowerment and a belief in your abilities that only travel can give you.

Far from feeling frustrated with my flaws, my fears and my foibles, I’ve learned how to be far more patient with myself.

I accept that my path may not parallel another’s, and that’s ok. By choosing a lifestyle over my career for now I have discovered that fulfilment takes on many forms.

And that feels pretty special.

 

Over to you!

Can you relate to any of these, either before or after you commit to a period of solo travel? Have you ever travelled alone? How did you rate it? I’d love to hear about your experiences.

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8 Comments

  1. October 21, 2016 / 2:33 AM

    Love this! And totally agree. I always make a point to venture out on my own even when I’m traveling with others. Even if it’s for a day or an hour. I would love to plan a completely solo trip one day soon. The idea just sounds amazing.

    • October 21, 2016 / 3:24 AM

      Venturing out on your own for a day or so is a great tip for people wondering whether they could take on a solo trip. I hope you get to make your dream a reality someday, Jessica.

  2. October 21, 2016 / 2:45 AM

    I have only ever traveled alone a handful of times. But it’s something I would consider doing more of as some of my interests lay in very different areas to my hubby’s.

    • October 21, 2016 / 3:22 AM

      That’s a very valid reason to travel alone that I’d not considered! Sometimes, we just love things that other people aren’t particularly interested in and so to drag them around with you as you try to enjoy your hobby/interest would be a definite mood killer! Thanks for reading and commenting, Melissa.

  3. October 21, 2016 / 7:14 AM

    I can relate to all of this. I have travelled with groups of friends and by the end of the holiday I am wishing that I had travelled alone! Some people are such pains to travel with. Plus I think you get to make new friends more easily if you are on your own.

    • October 21, 2016 / 12:08 PM

      It’s funny how our closest friends can be the ones that drive us round the best, yet we can quite comfortably travel with a relative stranger! So glad that you enjoyed the post, Kathy. Thanks for reading!

  4. November 18, 2016 / 9:30 AM

    Meg, I often prefer to be by myself most of the time. I feel a bit like Clint Eastwood in those old spaghetti western films when someone tries to speak to me and I think to myself ‘Go ahead punk make my day.’

    • November 20, 2016 / 11:58 AM

      Great that you are comfortable travelling alone, Chris. I agree, it’s the interactions we have with people whilst travelling that can make your experience so memorable.

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