We’ve all been there — that knotted ball in your stomach, those panic injections, the extra malaria pills you buy at the last minute, just in case. Everyone tells you how brave you are, travelling all by yourself. And this makes you terrified. Well not anymore, folks, and here’s why:
1. You’ll never really be alone
Everyone else is solo travelling too, and you’ll find a whole dorm room of people jumping at the chance to book a tour together, to go for a drink, to play Uno. The real challenge will be finding a moment to yourself.
2. You’ll discover more
When you go for those walks around a brand new town and stumble upon that cheap local restaurant with the best pho in town, or that hidden staircase up a mountain side just before sunset, you’ll be glad that a hungover friend or a distracting conversation didn’t stop you from finding it.
3. You’ll have more freedom
You want to extend your stay in an area you love and shorten your stay in the next destination? There’s absolutely nothing holding you back — you do whatever the hell you want.
4. There are no arguments
Unless you’re particularly indecisive, you’ll never argue while you’re travelling alone. There will be no one to get on your nerves or push you off a cliff jump so that you land belly-flop first (ouch!). No one will demand an expensive private room with an en suite when you just want to get messy with 12 other people in one room. All the decisions are yours to make, with no resistance whatsoever.
5. The lack of safety is a rumour
There is a false belief that travelling alone is terribly dangerous, that solo backpackers should arrange their wills, settle their accounts, and bid their farewells before they board the plane. But, the truth is that when you’re alone, you’re more aware. You pack things like a medical kit and torches, you avoid walking alone at night, and you don’t take stupid risks. Solo travellers are a sensible survivalist bunch.
6. You’ll become a more powerful person
Without anyone to hold your hand and walk you through it, you’ll be Miss or Mister Independent — figuring it all out yourself, booking everything, organizing yourself, researching the new language, the change in currency, the top attractions. You’ll realise that you are capable of almost anything. What a feeling.
7. You’ll push yourself
You’ll be more adventurous than you’ve ever been before because you’ve backed yourself into a corner — you have no choice but to meet people and make new friends if you don’t want to be alone the whole trip. You’ll also be more active than ever, signing up for tours, renting a bike, joining a group at your hostel for a trek into the mountains. With a friend, you might have just drunk beers by the pool and slept the week away, but on your own, you’re ultra proactive.
8. You’ll make connections around the world
Sometimes, travelling with friends stops you from making that many new ones. But travelling alone throws you onto the paths of all kinds of people from all kinds of places. So make friends, swap contact details, and maybe you’ll even get a free holiday out of it at some point.
9. You’ll mull things over
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves and throw up over the words “you’ll find yourself.” You probably won’t. Your personality doesn’t hide behind mountains in other countries. But maybe you’ll work some stuff out with all that time to think, or maybe you’ll discover a new passion and find your true calling in life, with so many new things to open your eyes.
10. You’ll gain new appreciation
When you’re home, in a clean bathroom with tap water you can drink, in a house made of bricks rather than wicker, surrounded by friends and family you love and eating a beautiful roast dinner at a polished wooden table, you might finally realise how good you have it. You might even feel spoiled. You might even want to give some of it away because you now know exactly how much more a small token can be worth to other people and, after relying on the kindness of strangers for your whole trip, you’ll value that kindness as the miracle it is.
Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com