I had the opportunity to spend 11 days traveling solo through the Scottish Highlands and Barcelona one spring, and the growth and freedom I experienced on that trip was pretty incredible.
Because of that, I’ve become vocal about how important I feel it is to go it alone somewhere on the globe at least once – be it near, be it far (but preferably far). To help me out, I’ve compiled 3 arguments as to what makes solo travel something you absolutely must try.
Freedom and flexibility
Solo travel is like your college years of trips. It’s a rare type of travel in which the essence of the act revolves entirely around you. You don’t have to conform to anyone else’s budget, comfort levels, or will, meaning you genuinely have the freedom to choose where you go, what you do, how long you’re gone, and how much you spend.
On top of that, it’s an extremely flexible way to explore. Let’s pretend you’re headed to Paris for a third time; instead of hitting every cliche tourist spot that you’ve already seen twice (as might be the case when traveling with a City of Lights first-timer), you can venture off on the road-less-traveled because you have complete control (and will never have to feel bad about it!).
Say you jet off to Lima and meet some rad people headed to Bogota – what’s stopping you from tagging along for a couple days before wending your way back to Peru for your intended trek to Machu Picchu? Nothing and no one.
Solo travel is, in my opinion, synonymous with flexibility and freedom. You get to cater the entirety of the itinerary to your own wants – and have one hell of a time while you’re at it.
2. The challenge
You know the phrase, ‘life begins at the end of your comfort zone’? I definitely think that carries some weight in solo travel – particularly for individuals on the introverted side.
In fact, I especially recommend solo travel if you’re an introvert. I like to consider myself an introverted extrovert (or possibly the other way around…still trying to figure that one out) and my first solo adventure was one of the most terrifying, thrilling and impactful experiences I’ve had.
Certainly, there are aspects to traveling with friends that you won’t have on solo endeavors – the guarantee that you’ll have someone to experience new places with, the lessened financial impact when booking hotel rooms, and the sheer comfort of always having a companion, among other things. However, there’s something about exploring new countries and breaking down new language barriers on your own that is so beneficial.
In many ways, solo travel is challenging and intimidating – you have to navigate foreign cities on your own (often without wifi), you experience a heightened sense of vulnerability, and you sometimes deal with moments of “WTF am I doing?!”. But those are precisely what will bring about the greatest rewards. In my experience traveling stag, I met some awesome people I probably would never have met otherwise, saw incredible sights I might have missed under a mediated agenda, and boarded my flight home feeling empowered, inspired, and hungry for more. You just might feel the same.
3. The perspective
You experience things differently when you’re on your own. Let me attempt to explain.
Have you ever gone somewhere really quiet and exceptionally scenic at sunrise and sat for a while in silence watching the colors saturate the earth and reflecting on…whatever danced into your mind at that moment? That feeling is how I often felt on my solo travels.
It’s an emotion that’s difficult to describe and almost impossible to replicate – which is what made my trip that much more impactful. Because you’re not constantly accompanied by someone, you have so many of those moments to truly soak in the sights, sounds, and culture around you.
I gained insight and perspective from traveling alone and I also think I grasped a better sense of what the places were all about. That in and of itself is invaluable.
In short, you only have things to gain by traveling on your own – freedom, flexibility, personal growth, and a unique perspective. So what are you waiting for? Book those plane tickets and get planning. There’s (literally) no one stopping you.