At some point in your lifetime, you should travel alone. Pick a foreign, unexplored place on the globe, pack a suitcase and buy a plane ticket. If you’ve never considered this before, here are 4 reasons why you should embark to an unknown destination completely by yourself:
1. Meet new people: Practically every great travel story involves meeting someone new, and traveling on your own makes it significantly easier for you to approach other people, and for them to approach you. As long as you have a sociable attitude and an open mind, you will probably end up meeting more interesting people when travelling alone than you would when travelling with a companion. Traveling alone allows you to interact with locals, learn about more culture, and you might even make some life-long friends. At every airport or in every airplane that I have been alone in, someone would strike up a conversation with me, most likely because I was on my own. People are intrigued by solo travelers and willing to help them out, hopefully in exchange for an interesting travel story. These rare, fleeting connections are an incredible opportunity to share experiences and are what make everyone’s journeys so unique and rewarding. Some of the people I remember most from my adventures are the ones that I spent only five minutes with, explaining that Canadians don’t, in fact, live in igloos, or being given a breakdown of Aussie Rules football in the middle of a match. Chances are, you probably won’t experience these personalized connections if you travel in a group.
2. Freedom to travel at your own pace: If you’re like me when you travel you like to take your time, searching for local hidden treasures while taking the scenic route. But it turns out, not everyone is like me. Everyone has their own preferences and when you travel in a group you need to strike a balance between seeing things, soaking it all in and fulfilling everyone’s individual needs. When you travel on your own you have the power to do everything you want and nothing you don’t want. I always thought that traveling alone would be terrifying but I actually found it much less difficult than traveling with others. Logistical challenges, such as where to go, when to go and how to get there, are much simpler when your vote is the only on that matters. Want to spend the day sipping Bintang on a beach in Indonesia instead of sightseeing? Why not, you don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself. Feel like skydiving over the Australian coast? Go for it, there’s no one to hold you back. Fellow travelers and locals that you meet, who become temporary companions, are free to come and go as they please, and the same goes for you. That’s the freedom of traveling alone.
3. Experience new adventures: Personally, this is the most compelling reason to travel alone. When you travel on your own, the world is your oyster, my friend. You can quite literally say ‘yes’ to anything you want to. On my last night in New Zealand, after a day on the beach with a collection of new friends from the UK, saying ‘yes’ led to late night swimming in the ocean, adventures on the boardwalk and eclectic bands at local bars. On my first day in Indonesia, saying ‘yes’ led to riding a motorcycle for the first time through winding mountain roads, being chased by mischievous monkeys, being welcomed into a traditional wedding ceremony and experiencing local Balinese cuisine. Having the freedom to welcome whatever new adventure presents itself is a powerful and intoxicating feeling, all you need is a loose itinerary and an open mind. Try everything. If it scares you, then it’s definitely a good thing to try. But while ‘carpe diem’ is important, your safety is number one. Be carefree, but careful.
4. Find yourself: While you wont be alone all of the time there are definitely times when all you will have is your own company, either by choice or by circumstance. When you travel alone you will find that you’ll have lots of time to reflect on your life. You’ll come to realize the people that you truly miss, the things you can’t wait to do when you get home and the parts of your life that aren’t as important as you once thought they were. I can attest that time and distance are an incredible way to place things in perspective and that this is a truly underrated benefit of traveling by yourself. When you travel alone you will also challenge your fears and insecurities. This is a big one, and definitely unavoidable, especially if it’s your first solo mission. You may be terrified of the unknown but if you succumb to that fear, you will never meet your strong, courageous and adventurous side. It will be hard, I can guarantee that your plans will change and that things will go wrong, I wouldn’t want you to believe otherwise, but it will definitely be worth it.
In the end, the destination and duration of your travels don’t really matter; just the fact that you are allowing yourself the experience of traveling on your own is what’s important. Just you, your thoughts and an open mind and the memories you will create will be priceless.
Written by: Leah Chadwick (TRU Study Abroad Ambassador and Psychology student.) Leah studied abroad for one semester in Australia and has traveled extensively throughout Europe and Asia.