“Who is your favorite traveling companion?”, what would be your answer? Your mom? Your spouse? Your best friend? How about yourself, do you enjoy journeying by yourself?
Traveling with a companion may be rewarding, but going solo can bring several benefits, too! If you haven’t done solo traveling before, consider the following reasons to convince yourself to explore unknown territories alone.
- You get to know yourself more.
Do I want to stay in a luxury hotel, or am I the backpacker type of traveller? Do I only stick to the meals that I know, or am I adventurous enough to try local cuisine? Do I prefer to spend money on an experience, or splurge on shopping?
The answers to these questions you may discover only after taking a solo trip to a new place. You will have no choice but to make decisions, overcome fears, and find your true self and what you are capable of.
- You build self-confidence.
Being on a trip by yourself can be unnerving. We are so used to have a companion for back-up of information and reminders. But on your own, you have to navigate the entire itinerary by yourself, and when you have done so successfully, you will feel a boost of confidence.
- The focus is on the destination.
Because there are no distractions, you have more time to read up on the story behind each site you’re visiting and have a real bond with the place when you see it up close. You pay more attention to each detail and feel more connected to your surroundings than when you are travelling with someone.
- You decide how to spend the money.
You and only you decide on how to work around the budget. If you plan to try the cheap but yummy street food in Thailand, go ahead! Save the dollar on food but take an exotic tour. On your last night, if you plan to splurge on a fine dining restaurant, it is your privilege. The only person who has the final say on finances is YOU.
- You meet more interesting people.
When you have a travel companion, the locals are less likely to strike a conversation with you than when you’re alone. Many locals are friendly and can offer tips and advice to foreign visitors that no travel book can. They may also take their time to explain the local culture, food, and practices, and you gain more insight into their way of life.
- You can read as many books as you want.
While on a solo vacation, you can catch up on your reading. Devouring on books is a luxury we cannot afford while on the 9-5 daily grind. And when travelling with a companion, you are forced to put aside the book to make conversation. Now’s the best time to read to your heart’s full content.
- You can rest without having to explain it to anyone.
After a whole day of exploration of Disneyland or Universal Studios, our body needs to recuperate. If travelling with friends, you’ll be forced to follow the itinerary still. But being on your own grants your body its wish to sleep in without feeling guilty.
- You can learn a new language faster.
One of the fun things to do while in a foreign country is to learn their local language. How to say “How much” for shopping, or “Thank you” to show appreciation, add to the excitement. Learning these frequently used phrases enriches your trip even more, and allows further engagement with the locals.
- You can practice your problem-solving and decision-making skills.
We all know that no matter how well-planned the entire itinerary can be, some unforeseen event will happen that can wreak havoc to your plans (think: volcanic eruption or a hurricane). When you have no one else but yourself to rely on rebooking flights, forward accommodations, all your problem-solving, negotiation and decision-making skills will come to fore.
- You create ownership of all the experiences.
Finally, when you’re done with your trip and reflect on the whole journey, you realize that you feel more fulfilled, unlike when travelling with friends, where the experience is a shared one. Being on your own opens yourself to the world and the world to you. You feel enriched by the sites visited, the new friends you have found along the way, and the challenges overcame. You channel your higher self spiritually and enhance your self-love.
So next time a friend or family suddenly changed his/her mind about going on a trip with you, GO ALONE. Do not let others stop you from achieving your dreams. The golden reward after the trip is your personal growth.
Willy Hobal / www.willyhobal.com