What's Fresh?
Home » Personal » Solo Travel – Why I do It, And Why You Should Too

Solo Travel – Why I do It, And Why You Should Too

I was 22 years old when it first struck me that I could actually, realistically journey to places I’ve never been. I realized I could do this on my own, with my own money, and lead whatever life I wanted to (even if only for a few days at a time). That moment was my tipping point!

I’m borderline commitment phobic – people close to me will corroborate that; so it was as much a surprise to me as to anybody else, when I made a pact with myself to spend my next five birthdays in five different countries. Naturally, this hasn’t been a very popular decision with my social circle! Friends and family alike have regularly lamented and questioned the sanity of my decision!

“But why the fuck are you going alone?” “Why do you want to celebrate your birthday alone?” “Won’t you feel lonely?”

The only response I’ve had over the past three years to these questions is a wry smile and sad, forlorn nod of the head; I’ve let people believe I’m anti-social, and weird and indifferent for far too long. These are people I love, people whose opinions I care about! I think I owe them an explanation, I owe them an answer, so here goes nothing! Here’s why I am recklessly hurtling towards a one-sided affair with solo-travel! I know this probably still doesn’t make it okay for many of you, but I hope it will help understand my perspective better!

Because I’m an Ambivert

It’s tough to place my social intelligence. Sometimes I’m gregarious and the heart of the party, and sometimes I am a social wreck – making all the wrong gestures, saying all the wrong things, reading all the wrong signals. This is why I stick to my pack when I’m with people I know and feel comfortable with. Solo travel doesn’t leave me this option. As a (sometimes) socially awkward, brown man traveling alone, I have to work extra hard at making conversations, keeping them and making friends! This helps me improve my social intuition, and makes me a better man overall! The small wins you make when you charm a group of people with your stories are one of the most rewarding things about solo travel.

ambivert

Because I Hate Making Sacrifices, and I’m Incredibly Self-Centered (well, sometimes!)

A couple of years ago, I was in Ireland, with two of my best friends. After we reached Ireland, I found out one of them had recently developed a fear of oceans (and we took her to Ireland – geniuses, aren’t we?)! Anyway, a few days of driving around the coast later, we finally made it to the Cliffs of Moher. I couldn’t wait to jump out of the car and start walking one of the most spectacular trails in the world. My other friend, however, had to stay back with my phobic-friend, because there was no way she would have been able to do that walk. My friend didn’t complain about it, but he dearly wanted to do the walk, and he couldn’t!

Cliffs of Moher

These are the sort of sacrifices you sometimes have to make if you travel with friends or family – because all of us can’t be the same; our preferences can’t be the same. Me? I’m not sure I’m capable of such selflessness anymore.

Because Solo Travel Helps Me Appreciate Company More

A few days ago, I was at the Zurich Airport for six hours, waiting for a connecting flight. I had no WiFi access, my Kindle was out of juice, and my spare book was in my check-in backpack. I smoked a couple of cigarettes, made unnecessary, lengthy visits to the restroom, munched on a disgusting sandwich, but pretty soon ran out of things to do! It’s times like these on the road, when you really miss company. You’re not tuned in for making conversation with strangers or making new friends. You’re far too tired to explore uncharted territory! You just want a familiar face to look at, smile back at and talk about silly, mundane, familiar things about.

I vividly remember thinking of my mom and wishing she were there to see the rain lash down on the Zurich air-strip that day (smile away, Mother – this is the closest I’m going to come to proclaiming my love for you on public domain! HA).

Because I Love Meeting New People and Making Friends Without The Pressure of ‘Keeping in Touch’

Know what my favorite part about people is? The first few moments and hours when you get to know them! These complex, multi-layered, multi-cultured beings, deciding on an impulse what parts of their multi-dimensional personalities to first reveal to a stranger – think about it; fascinating, isn’t it?

I travel to meet people! I love people – it’s amazing how much they differ from place to place; but deep down inside, they are all led by the same motivations! It’s an amazing oxymoron, and it never ceases to amaze me! Solo travel allows me the leeway to meet more people because I don’t have to worry about spending time with people I already know! I can leave here tomorrow, without the pressure of keeping in touch. I don’t HAVE to worry about adding people on Facebook or exchanging numbers, but I could if I wished! Most times, I don’t even remember the names of the people I meet (I’m pretty sure neither do they), but the memory of the times we spent together, lingers on.

solo travel

To the names we won’t remember, and the nights we’ll never forget!

Because I Love Not Having Plans & Getting Lost

When I first started traveling on my own, I was a serial planner! I loved controlling outcomes and planning everything down to the last detail! Gradually, I realized this to be a big constraint! I noticed my experiences started to get more rewarding the more spontaneous I became. Slowly, but surely, I’ve sort of made the transition from meticulous planner to spontaneous wanderer. This doesn’t bode down very well when you have company and each of you have separate agendas that must be honored in the name of social code!

solo travel

Getting Lost Amidst Country Roads That Don’t Always Take You Home

I’m also an expert at getting lost! I love getting lost, and I do it shamelessly even within my own city! I love to find myself in a part of the world I’ve never been. I love discovering a hidden corner in an alley I’ve known all my life. Solo travel offers plenty of opportunities for getting lost – it isn’t an option; despite Google Maps, GPS devices, advanced navigation, and translator apps, it’s an inevitability. For some, this might be the perfect reason to NOT travel solo, but with me it’s pretty much the other way round!

Because It Is Immensely Empowering

Did I tell you about that time in Seychelles when I almost got deported? [Read: Seychelles Immigration – A Backpacker’s Nightmare] Did I tell you about that time when my bus from Budapest to Vienna dropped me off at the wrong terminal, and I had no idea how to find my way to my hostel? Solo travel is dotted by these micro mis-adventures! Overcoming tiny hurdles like these can have life-altering effects on your self-worth!

I still remember the first time I stepped on a flight by myself – I was a nervous wreck! Today I feel calm and confident in my ability to navigate through the trickiest situations, and this confidence spills over in my personal as well as professional life! I didn’t do a lot of personality development classes/workshops as a kid, but I’m pretty sure this is how they must have felt like.

Because It Scares the Fuck Out of Me and Makes Me Uncomfortable

Solo travel can be scary because we all fear the unknown; and not having a familiar face to share in the unknown can make the prospect infinitely scarier! This is a truism; it is also true however, that the only way to really overcome a fear is by constantly facing up to it. Traveling by myself is a constant challenge for me. I find myself pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone all the time, and in doing so, I think I keep discovering that I’m capable of things I never thought I would be! [Suggested Read: Best Places to Travel Au Naturel]

solo travel

Solo travel takes you places – and I don’t just mean cities, and countries and woods! It takes you places within yourself, you didn’t know existed 🙂

I could go on and on for longer, if I so wished, but I think I’ve sort of made my point! Solo travel is a crazy prospect – full of possibilities, dangers, rewards and the thrill of the unknown. I won’t pretend it’s for everybody, but it could be for you. If you didn’t try, you wouldn’t know – I’d certainly encourage you to give it a shot! If nothing else, at least you’ll come back wiser, if we’re to take John Haltiwanger’s word 😉

People Who Travel Alone All Have One Thing In Common: They’re Wise

There’s nothing quite like waking up by yourself in an unfamiliar place with nothing to do but explore. It’s simultaneously invigorating and unnerving. But the frightening aspects of it are precisely what make it so intoxicating. Adventurous souls are infatuated with uncharted territory. They’re driven by wanderlust, and a perpetual desire to embrace the unfamiliar.

Also Read:

7 Travel Lessons I Learned From My First Trip

Travel Blogging: The Ugly Truth Social Media Doesn’t Show You

How I Quit My Job to Travel! NOT

Do you travel on your own too? If you don’t, have you ever considered it? What are the challenges you face? What do you think may be the potential rewards? I’d love to hear from you! If you need somebody to talk to, to help you take your first leap of faith, you can always reach out to me through the comment box below, or drop me a note on email!

33 comments

  1. Hey, I am ambivert also! I had no idea there is a word for it!
    My husband is going to Amsterdam next month for a business trip and I’ve been debating with myself for days should I go with him or not. The fact is, I do not want to spend days alone, but in the same time I want… Gaaah, I need to push myself again 🙂

  2. We all have various reasons for wanting, or not wanting, to travel solo. Do what works for you!

  3. This is great, and how courageous of you. You will have so many more adventures to come. Interested to know what happened in Vienna and where you were dropped off instead. Looking forward ot reading more of your adventures.

  4. Wow what a great post. Kudos to you for traveling alone and exploring the world. It’s great that you get to do these things by yourself. With a family solo travel is hard but when I get an escape I enjoy it. The time apart helps me appreciate my family more.

  5. Great post! Had gone through almost all your post for the past 6 hours. I have never sat this long reading anything yet (not even during my Engineering days) .can’t say if it’s travel love or just a boring long day. Great inspiration for me as m still struggling a way out of my f** job.
    I mostly travel with my friends which somehow limits the list. Have a fear to travel solo, but looking forward for solo trip next time and try it out after reading this.
    looking forward for your next adventures!!

  6. I love people and a huge group when I think of travel. But somehow it never materialises. So I have taken to solo travel. I think it has made me independent enough to do things that probably i would have restricted myself to doing in front of a group. I like it. I see the world my way .

  7. This post made me smile 🙂 I can so relate on a ton of these points – life with solo travel can be hard — like, erm, being deported and shit — but empowering is definitely the word to explain the feeling of knowing you have your own back. I also love having friends for short glimpses of time – always to look back on fondly without having to continue into the future. Sweet post!

  8. All the power to you. Travel is such a personal thing and we all need to approach it in the way it works for us. Awesome job in getting out there and doing it your way!

  9. I am an ambivert too. Traveling solo, like everything else has its pros and cons. But one should do it at least for some time, as it is an experience well worth it. It is an opportunity to come to terms with oneself and ones’ fears, an opportunity for introspection.

  10. I travel solo every now and then and I have some of the same reasons as you! Not having plans, not having to compromise or sacrifice, not having to constantly socialize — these are definitely the perks of traveling solo. 🙂

  11. solo travel is good for your independence comes to true play and power for you… i enjoyed reading this so much.. thanks for keeping me glued to my sit on this one.. more please..

  12. I still remember the first time I stepped on a flight by myself – I was a nervous wreck!

    Yeh. I’m like that every time I’m about to land in a new place, or know that I’m going overland to a completely new and different region. But I just know from experience that it’s never ever as bad as my brain makes it out to be, that everyone else always has and always will have no problems and that this is everyday life for nearly everyone around me at the time, so it’s a feeling that passes. After I’ve done it, obviously …

    I’m very much an introvert rather than an ambivert – my work colleagues wonder how someone introverted can travel solo around the world, and assume that I’m lying, but the truth is, I travel solo partly because I’m an introvert; I really don’t like having to spend too long in other people’s company, and the thought of being stuck in an enclosed space with the same people while travelling for a couple of weeks fills me with dread. I like to be able to go off on my own and see things in my own time, at my own pace, and get my own private senses from it. (I also, like you’re starting to do, make plans at the very last minute & I doubt many people could cope with that on a big adventure!)

  13. I love what you wrote about “Because I Love Meeting New People and Making Friends Without The Pressure of ‘Keeping in Touch’” it makes sense coz worrying with others you are connected gives you stress (I do) so sometimes its good to go solo, and enjoy it 🙂

  14. This is a pretty interesting post. I’m a solo traveler & can relate to every point you’ve mentioned 🙂

  15. Sanket, every time I read your posts I always learn a little more about you and your travel habits. I really enjoyed this post, it made me reflect a little on my own travel tendencies. There’s always something special about travelling with friends but also something particularly intimate about solo-travelling, you can soak up everything the way you want and how you want. Great post!

  16. solo travel sometimes makes me afraid. I like with friends, it makes me happy

  17. Meeting new – and many many of them – people has been the best part of my solo travels. Some became really close friends and some remain an unnamed friend who I once had fun with. I totally relate to this article

  18. I agree with a lot of this! Especially the being a bit selfish with travelling – I wanna do what I wanna do! And I definitely think that solo travel is an amazing way to meet people. You just don’t make the same connections otherwise.

  19. I totally agree with everything you wrote! I definitely have a lot of similar traits to you by the sounds of it! I’ve learned how to be selfish with travel too – and it’s made such a difference! Sometimes it can be a very good thing!

  20. I am beyond the “solo travel” point. Maybe when I was younger, husband-less and child-less… I should have taken the plunge. But now I have the husband and children (three of them) and we travel everywhere! We have been to 16 countries in 2 years.

  21. I love this. I wish I was brave enough to travel alone. It’s something I know I would enjoy doing for the same reasons you do.

  22. While I love traveling with my husband and my children, being a solo traveler does look amazing. I would love to have the ability to do whatever/whenever, just to be a little selfish for once.

  23. I can fully appreciate where you’re coming from.

    Sometimes, especially with travel, it’s nice to be able to do what you want to do and not need to consider anything else (I can’t believe your friend in Ireland wouldn’t allow your other friend to walk the cliffs with you).

    Travel truly is about the people you meet, and most travellers are similar souls, with similar motivations that make that first conversation often a joy.

    Sharing war stories, often for hours, and often having forgotten to even bother with introductions 🙂

  24. Great post! I can’t agree with you more! The best part is that you are often not alone at all because it’s easier to meet people when you travel. A lot of the time at least! I always tell people that it’s as easy as going to the grocery store by yourself. It just sounds scarier than it is. PS: I think I might be an Ambivert too! 😉

  25. Golden Triangle Tour 5 Days

    its a very engaging post. you mention most important points in your post. these are amazing. all photos are looking good but last snapshot is great. its looking so much beautiful.

  26. You know, this is right on time! I remember having the same feelings you described above, but that was 5 years ago. I forgot how to travel solo.

  27. I love traveling alone because I can do what I like as I like it. But I also enjoy traveling with friends and loved ones so I can enjoy their company and share my thoughts and feelings. Every kind of travel brings a different experience- and I try to enjoy all of them!

  28. Traveling solo is very rarely traveling alone. So many ways to meet and travel with new people as you move along your journey. Although I now have a partner to travel with most of time, I still love my solo days and schedule days to myself when the time permits.

  29. Traveling solo is awesome, but I must admit that I love traveling as a couple. Think I’m quite fortunate to have a lot in common with my partner. When we DO have to sacrifice doing something the other doesn’t want to do we would compromise and split out ways on separate attractions. (luckily this has only happened once in 8 years) Last thing I would want is to miss the Cliffs of Moher trails.. which is brilliant btw!

    Love the whole 5 different countries for 5 birthdays…. very inspirational and a possible new goal to think about! 🙂

  30. Yesss reading this, I swear we’re the same person haha. You 100% nailed why I love to travel solo from time to time. That said, I do love travelling with friends and my boyfriend as well. It’s all about balance and finding what works for you. Travel is such a personal experience, so I’m stoked for you that you’ve found your groove! 🙂

  31. Getting lost is my hobby. Haha. I normally discover awesome places thru this. But the line Because I Love Meeting New People and Making Friends Without The Pressure of ‘Keeping in Touch’ is my favorite from the list. 🙂

  32. Indeed, travelling alone is empowering. I wouldn’t mind travelling alone either! You are so free to roam around everywhere you want to go, whenever you want.

  33. Solo travel is still the best way of traveling for me 🙂 I glad that I met people on the road and made me more connected with the places I visited. Last year I did solo travel during my birthday and it was awesome:)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Scroll To Top