Did you ever meet a solo traveller on the road, and wonder how do they do it? Taking on the big wide world on their own? How do they survive and cope by themselves all the time? Are they really enjoying themselves when it’s just them all the time?
I can tell you that the solo traveller is likely having a more rewarding and memorable travel experience than someone in a group of mates or a tour. Given the choice travelling with friends or going solo, I will take solo 9/10 times. Here’s 10 reasons why.
1. Know what it’s like to be truly 100% free.
Real long term travel is about cutting off those chains linking you back to the mundane monotony of the every day and hitting the road to do and go where you feel. If you’re travelling in a group or with friends ,are you really that independent if someone is telling you when to wake up, where you have to be a certain time, and going somewhere you don’t particularly want to go because it’s part of your tour itinerary or your partner / friend is forcing you? You are only truly the master of your domain if you travel solo, it will only be a handful of times you have this amount of freedom in your life, relish it while you can.
2. Meet people (maybe even fall in love).
Going away for 3 months solo? I really doubt you will be talking to yourself that whole time. As a solo traveller you will meet more people than travelling own your own…It just seems to work out that way. Chilling on your own as a foreigner in an night club, you will be amazed how many people will want to befriend you and show you how they party in their country. Friendships like these usually go beyond the dance floor, where after your epic night out you have a great crew of locals to show you around for the remainder of your stay. Check out these great photos. I guarantee none of these interactions would’ve happened if I was travelling in a group and not as open to meeting others.
3. Get pulled (more like catapulted) out of your comfort zone.
How’s the idea of multiple months in a country where you can’t speak the language sound? How will you buy train tickets, order food, recharge your phone credit, talk to that cute person at the other side of the bar or even find out where the toilet is if your stomach is having a dodgy tapas infused emergency? If your answer is “not so great”, well after one week travelling solo, your mind will have changed. These things will not only be a breeze to you, you will enjoy all of them (ok maybe not the dodgy taps emergency).
The comfort zone includes other things as well. Eat things you wouldn’t normally eat. Do things you can only do in your current location. You may only get this chance to do these things once, there’s no one to hold you back.
4. You’ll meet lots of people, but most importantly you’ll meet yourself.
Travelling solo will mean more quiet alone time then what you’re used to. Long plane, train or bus journeys will give you hours to reflect and soak in the whole experience, and also help you discover who you really are. These quiet times will also give you time to explore deep inside yourself, almost like meditating without even knowing it. Your thoughts will also turn to home, and how you can solve problems, set goals and make things better upon your return.
5. Sleep in, be late, or not show up at all without letting anyone down.
While practising your new found self confidence by making new friends in at 2am in a club, it’s likely the next morning you’re going to feel a little worse for wear. Well guess what. Fuck getting up because you don’t have to. The only person you’re going to let down is yourself, I think getting out of bed a few hours later than planned is actually going to feel more like a reward then letting yourself down.
If you’ve fallen in love with the cute little beach town you’ve discovered. Well stay longer, It’s not like your next destination is going to be upset you didn’t arrive on time. It will always be there tomorrow.
6. No arguing, bitching, complaining or fighting ever.
They say the quickest way to loose a friend is to go travelling with them. Long periods without sleep, staying in small confines of hostels and getting cranky from carting a 20kg backpack all covered with a thick coating of jet-lag is a recipe for some hardcore arguments. Everyone I know who has travelled with friends (including me) has had some pretty significant fights on the road. Some enough to end the friendship. If you want to keep your friends, don’t go travelling with them. If you want to make your trip argument free, leave your friends at home.
7. It’s your money spend it how you want.
Want to get that €200 bottle of champagne with lunch.. go right ahead. Burn out your savings shoe shopping in Milan. You’re welcome to. But remember you’ll only have yourself to answer to when the next trip to the ATM ends in disappointment. When travelling in a group, sometimes people have different budgets which can be stressful and unworkable. You may be trying to sneak through as cheap and cheerful as possible, but this isn’t going to work if your travel buddies are looking to live like Donald Trump on their trips. You will either have to split up or alter your budget and ultimately your experience.
8. Good things happen to solo travellers.
I have no scientific evidence to back this up, but when you put yourself out there as a solo traveller good things just start miraculously happening to you. A simple walk around the corner to the bakery and you can find yourself invited inside to see how they make their bread (as happened to me in Morocco below). Upgrades are more likely to happen, (If there’s only one Business class seat, it’s has to go to a solo traveller) people will be kind to you and opportunities will present themselves.
9. Learn a language and immerse yourself in a new culture.
You’re bound to pick up more than a few phrases if you spend a month or two alone immersed in a foreign language. Travelling alone you will be forced to communicate more with locals more than if you hang around with your travel buddies speaking your native tounge the whole time. If you really want to learn a language to fluency, then take some lessons at the start of your trip. Many take a few weeks intensive Spanish lessons at the beginning of a South American trip, as a result they can communicate on a basic level with everyone they meet and end up getting much more out of their trip as a result. It can also be handy to get you out of a jam, or assist in an emergency.
10. Do things you would never do at home.. there’s no one to judge you.
I’ll leave this to you to fill out.. Leave the wildest things you’ve done while solo travelling, or your craziest suggestions below. The best examples will be posted on the Irresponsible Life Facebook page.