I have a confession. I don’t think I love travelling as much as I toot my own horn about it. Growing up in a traditional Chinese family, I’ve been indoctrinated with the dangers of travelling alone — gasp, don’t even think about it! — especially because I’m a girl. Here are some reasons I had:
...You’ll get taken advantage of (in all senses)
...so you’ll have to fend for and defend yourself
...There’s no one to share the experience with
...so there won’t be motivated to go explore
...It’ll get lonely travelling alone
...It’s intimidating to be somewhere foreign all by yourself
I’ve had so many opportunities to travel in the past few years, yet I’ve always managed to come up with excuses to get out of it. While I still carry the hopes of travelling the world, I’ve always been hesitant to do so, especially when it came to going alone. Yes, I’ve travelled by myself, but it’s always to go visit someone so it’s never a true solo trip.
I’ve never questioned my excuses until one of my friends, who I never expected to travel alone, came back from a solo month-long trip to South-East Asia. She came back marvelling her experience and how much she appreciated the “me” time while exploring — it’s a very different perspective when you’re travelling alone.
So, I've decided to rethink what solo travelling means to me. After mulling over how I could possibly benefit from a trip travelling alone (given that I absolutely hate to even have a meal by myself at a restaurant), and thinking back to the times I flew alone to visit family and friends in different countries, I think I’ve convinced myself that I can do it too. If you share the same sentiments as me, maybe this list can change your mind too:
...You're on your own schedule
This was an obvious benefit to travelling solo — you get to do what you want, whenever you want! When I’m travelling with people, I tend to shy away from spending too much time looking at things I’m really interested in because I don’t want to monopolize the limited time that we have. If I had to travel by myself, I’d definitely look forward to having all the time to myself and spending as much time as I need at one location.
...You save money 💰
Adding on to the point above, since you get to pick and choose your itinerary completely based on your own schedule, you’d actually be able to save money. From my experience, travelling alone while visiting friends would also mean you have the option to stay with them, rather than having to look for separate accommodations with your travel companions.
...You learn to be independent
When I travel with friends, I usually let them do the planning, with only a few inputs here and there because I get lazy with doing the research. However, it’s never a passive process when you’re travelling alone. I already feel a lot more independent coming out of a trip where I flew by myself, so I can only imagine how much more independent I would be after spending an entire trip alone. I’d have to do the research for all the places worth visiting and make sure I get myself to where I need to be at the right time.
...You learn to step out of your comfort zone
I’m normally happy staying within my comfort zone, where everything is familiar and safe. I won’t go out of my way to do something alone, like solo dining. I’d opt to take out and eat in my own car. When you travel by yourself, there is no “comfort zone” — if you don’t eat with yourself, you’ll starve. If you don’t ask a stranger for directions, you could be lost for a long time. Basically, if you want your trip to move smoothly, you’re forced to step out of your comfort zone, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
...You build up your confidence
I’ve always doubted my own decisions and end up asking for a second opinion even when I didn’t need it. Travelling alone means you won’t have anyone to bounce your doubts off of, and you’d have to make a decision independently. Strangely enough, when you learn to stop relying on someone else’s opinion, you become much more confident in yourself.
...You make friends easier
Introducing myself to people new to the group doesn't come naturally to me when I'm with friends — I opt to cower behind them until they introduce me. Obviously, you're not going to have anyone to hide behind when you're travelling alone, so you have to go up and talk to people. Honestly though, I find it a lot easier to approach people in situations where I don't know anyone at all, compared to going to a party with someone who knows everyone already.
...Your trip will be more memorable
Trips usually come and go as a blur when I travel with friends. I figured it's because they're the ones finding out how to get to places while I idly wait for them. Solo-travelling would be the opposite. between all the trip planning, road navigating and meals alone, you'll remember the trip much more clearly because you actively had to do everything. Travelling alone will also give you more time to reflect on your trip while enjoying "me" time.
Do you think these reasons are enough to at least try travelling alone once? If you already thrive in travelling by yourself, tell us why you find it so enjoyable to do so. If you dread the thought of being by yourself on a trip, tell us what fears you have. We want to know it all.
Can't wait to read your comments on travelling alone!