I texted my cousin to congratulate him on his upcoming college graduation weekend. We got to talking and the conversation led to him asking, “Didn’t you just get back from Japan?” I did! He was planning on traveling to Europe this summer so I asked how planning was progressing. He replied that the trip fell through for the usual reasons, mostly that people are flaky. (As I read his text I shook my head “yes” in agreement, having “been there, done that” in my life.) I want to be the encouraging, cheerleading type of older cousin so I replied back with, “Why I Started to Travel Solo and You Should Too…”
Here are the reasons people claim they WANT to go on a trip:
- Seeing new sites
- Meeting new people
- Learning about a new culture
Here are the reasons those same people claim they CANNOT go on said trip:
- I don’t have the money
- I can’t get the time off from work
Look, I’m going to be blunt here. Most of the time those reasons are downright bullshit excuses. If someone wants to do something there’s a way to do it. Even if you have a full time job that doesn’t exactly leave you with much leftover income a shorter, affordable trip’s usually an option. (Actually it always is, you just need to be selective about where you go, stay and play.)
If someone wants to miss out on all the reasons they wanted to go in the first place in exchange for a list of excuses, that’s their prerogative. But you? NOT YOU! You’re a do-er and man, your friend is going to be JEALLLLOUSSS when you go on your trip, posting FB photos of yourself on a beautiful beach in the Mediterranean or at a church built in the 14th century, or ruins from Mayan civilizations as they sip yet another morning coffee at their desk in the office for another day of “same old.”
I started to travel solo because of a deep desire to explore the world during a time in my early adult life when all my friends, who I thought may follow through and join me on the trips they claimed to want to join me on, were falling short of honesty and fulfillment of our conversations.
What I did to get over the hurdle of that first trip alone
I decided I’d go to Europe for 2 weeks – one week I’d join an age-appropriate travel group (I was in my mid twenties at the time) and the other week I’d go solo. The way it worked out was a few days solo, a one-week travel group trip, and then a few days solo at the end, where I ended up meeting a friend who lives in Scandinavia in the south of Europe to at her vacation apartment in Spain.
The trip got me comfortable with traveling solo, from navigating alone, to eating by myself at restaurants (gasp!), to staying at a hotel as a “party of one.” (Which sure, I’ve done a ton in America but this was foreign territory so it was a first.)
Here are the benefits of traveling solo:
- You don’t need to consult ANYONE about your travel plans. Whether you want to tour a city at 2:00pm, or eat dinner at 9:00pm or wake up early at 6:30am to catch a train for a day trip, guess who is there to contest all of the above with you? NO ONE. It’s magical.
- (As if I need to post more reasons than the above one…)
- You meet REALLY cool people. I’ve met more new people traveling alone than when I’ve been with another person or a group of people. If you’re alone and eating at a sushi bar in Japan, for instance, you’re much more likely to strike up a conversation with the person next to you than if you had a travel buddy to defer to.
- You just may learn a lot about yourself and develop skills you didn’t even know you needed. I’ve developed a better sense of navigation. (I still can’t get by without a GPS system of some sort in America, but put me in a village I visited 7 years ago in Germany and it’s like my feet have their own magical memory) I’ve become more comfortable attempting to speak local languages, none of which I can even remotely say I’m proficient in, and I’ve gotten more comfortable being me, as you truly get used to being in your own skin more the more you force yourself to be solo in these kinds of situations.
In the end I believe if you’re left with a choice of whether to go on a trip solo or not at all – GO SOLO. You may even find you like it BETTER than traveling with friends for all of the above reasons…and then some.
Would you go on a trip alone?