Over the years, solo traveling has grown to become one of the biggest movements in the travel industry. People are now realizing that if they continue to wait for others, they’ll never go anywhere. A few months can turn into a few years and before you know it, all of that time that you’ve spent waiting has vanished. Furthermore, if COVID-19 taught us anything, it’s that life is short and you never know what could happen. For these reasons, it’s important to take advantage of the time and opportunities you have now to travel.
1. Increase Your Independence and Build Confidence
Two of the biggest things that young adults struggle with when transitioning from college to the workforce are becoming more independent and building confidence. You may have professors reminding you of that assignment due next week or peers encouraging you to go in and nail that interview. However, these are two crucial things that students and young adults lack, and therefore need to practice to strengthen other skills for success. Solo traveling is the key that can give you that boost in confidence and increase your independence in various ways.
You will be booking hotels, planning your itinerary, making sure you arrive at the airport on time, and learning how to navigate cities and local transportation. After your first few solo trips, you will eventually become a savvy traveler who feels confident in tackling challenges. Additionally, you will form a new appreciation for “me time” by focusing on yourself. These are lifelong skills that everyone needs to learn and master to achieve success. At the end of the day, you have no one else to depend on but yourself. While this may seem scary, it makes you more responsible and holds you accountable for situations that are in your control!
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2. Choosing Where You Go + What You Do
Everyone has different priorities, budgets, and interests which makes it increasingly difficult to gather a group of friends together for a trip that aligns with each person’s criteria. Some people may want to lay on the beach and snorkel, while others want to embark on a two-hour hike in the jungle. This is where complications arise and often lead to people branching out their separate ways. However, solo traveling gives you the biggest advantage where you have the power to make all of the decisions that go into a trip.
Interested in interacting with the Galapagos Islands’ wildlife? Spend a few more days there! Not a fan of museums? Skip them and go on that boat tour! The possibilities are endless because your desires and interests are the only ones that matter.
For example, last summer I visited Paris and ended up leaving earlier than anticipated because of the dreary weather. I decided to go on a spontaneous trip to Mykonos instead for eight days where I had a phenomenal time. I didn’t need anyone’s approval to do this, which was the best feeling. I was able to do whatever I wanted to when I wanted to without discussing and compromising my ideas with others.
3. Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone
When you travel in groups, people tend to stick together instead of branching out wherever they go. While this is great for getting comfortable and feeling safe, you’re lacking the full travel experience by not fully immersing yourself in a different culture. Solo traveling pushes you out of your comfort zone by challenging you to meet new people and overcome your fears relating to unfamiliar environments.
Before two people become friends, they start as strangers. Imagine how many strangers you will meet that will quickly turn into lifelong friendships! Your network, confidence, and the memories made will grow rapidly. Great places and platforms that I recommend for meeting new people include bars, hostels, day tours, and even beach clubs.
From my experience, I have made countless friendships through various types of tours including bar crawls, city tours, and photoshoot walks. The key is to put yourself out there and have good energy because when you open yourself up to others, they will gravitate toward you.
4. You Learn More About Yourself
Over time, traveling independently will help you learn more about yourself by experiencing plenty of “firsts”. We grow up being told “you never know unless you try” and this is what you should keep in mind. If hotels have always been your go-to when traveling, now is the perfect opportunity to try out a hostel. This is also a great way to save a hefty chunk of money on accommodation that can be used for meals and activities. Hostels are great budget-friendly accommodations that tend to be centrally located in major cities, beach towns, and just about anywhere! Staff members of hostels organize events each day to bring travelers together so they can meet new people.
Another great way to experiment with trying new things is through public transportation. Maybe you’re the type of person who prefers taking a taxi over the bus any day. Although you’d be in the comfort of a private vehicle, sometimes the bus can be more efficient by minimizing the amount of traffic you go through, saving you ample amounts of time. Additionally, it’s cheap and affordable where those few extra bucks you save can go towards a nice meal.
5. Your Foreign Language Skills Will Strengthen
Throughout our lives, we’re encouraged to learn another language in school, especially to graduate college. A textbook can only teach you so much and isn’t the most effective way to retain information. Nevertheless, the best way to strengthen your language skills is through traveling because learning another language takes time and practice. Additionally, you need to be immersed in the environment to learn effectively.
For example, if you’re interested in learning French, some of the best countries to build up your skills include France, Morocco, Belgium, and Canada. Spending a week or more traveling in these countries will increase your fluency because you’re compelled to remember those key words and phrases so you don’t have to translate everything. Additionally, if you’re in a destination where internet service is weak, the only other option is to practice what you know and decipher the rest. Overall, learning a new language is challenging, but putting yourself head-on to practice will help strengthen your skills.
6. Your Budget is the Only One That Matters
Everyone has a different budget and financial situation. Your friends might enjoy staying at 4-star hotels, but you can only afford hostels. Perhaps indulging in fancy restaurants doesn’t interest you either because deep down, you’d rather check out the street food scene. Solo traveling decreases the amount of influence others have on you, especially when it comes to “FOMO” (fear of missing out). Your friends may guilt-trip you into joining them for a lavish night out, but traveling alone gives you the ultimate control in not being persuaded to break the bank and spend out of budget.
7. Dining Without Reservations
Being a party of one means that you might just be lucky enough to snag that last hostel bed or dinner table without a reservation! Because you’re alone, it makes it easier for restaurants to accommodate you compared to a party of six. You can sit at the bar, eat, and mingle with others and most importantly: not have to wait a very long time! In my experience, I have been able to snag tables at several top-rated restaurants because I was a party of one. This is another great way to meet people and truly enjoy yourself.
I hope this list inspires you to pack up your suitcase and book that flight! Solo traveling changes people in so many positive ways and the benefits are endless. If you continue to wait for others, you’ll never go anywhere. Traveling is truly one of the most fulfilling things a person can do, and I encourage you to take that leap out of your comfort zone and discover new things! With several international currencies at their all-time lowest in decades including the Euro, Pound, and Japanese Yen, now is the perfect time to travel and save a hefty chunk of money!
This trip involves a 4-day trek at high altitude (note that horses and porters carry the bulk of our gear) in often unpredictable weather, class II-IV whitewater rapids, hiking/mountain biking along dirt roads and paths, paddleboarding, and moderate physical labor.
This trip involves a 4-day trek (~34 total miles, hiking 4-7 hours per day with a backpack on) in Iceland’s highlands in often unpredictable weather, a day hike on a glacier, fresh water snorkeling, and moderate physical labor.