Travel is back and bigger than ever. Many destinations have reported record-breaking visitor arrivals, and the momentum doesn’t look like it will stop. As more and more travelers get back out into the world, many are considering going it alone. In fact, about 25% of American travelers planned on taking a solo trip this year, and the trend is set to grow in 2023.
Many travelers who are used to checking out new destinations with a group or a travel partner don’t understand why solo travelers decide to take a trip alone. Below are five reasons you should take a solo trip next year, but first, here are a few misconceptions about solo travel.
Solo Travel Misconceptions
As a married man with a wife who also loves to travel, some people I meet while on a solo trip are surprised to learn that I am traveling alone. Things I’ve heard that are common misconceptions include:
- “You must be so brave!”
- “Why isn’t your wife with you?”
- “Don’t you get bored?”
- “Don’t you get lonely?”
I’ll admit, before taking my first trip alone and without my wife, many of these questions were bouncing around in my head as well. Would I be lonely? Would I get bored? Did I need to be brave? What if something went wrong? Who would be there to help me? I quickly learned that there was no need to worry. Did I miss my wife? Of course I did. Was I lonely? Not at all.
Many people are quick to assume there must be something wrong if you are traveling without your spouse, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Traveling solo has added a depth to our relationship that I’m not sure we could have reached any other way. If you have open communication with your partner and there aren’t any trust issues, solo traveling away from each other can actually be a great way to enhance your relationship. The old adage is true. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder.
With some of the misconceptions about solo travel out of the way, here are 5 reasons you should take a solo trip next year:
1) Learn (Or Re-learn) About Yourself
When you are living your day-to-day life with family, friends, and coworkers, it’s easy to forget about some of the things you were once interested in. Interests naturally intertwine when you spend enough time around others. Music, TV shows, conversation… we all tend to find common ground within the relationships we form.
When you travel alone, things you may have forgotten about yourself will come to light. The music you haven’t listened to in years suddenly finds its way back onto your playlist. Movies you used to love are now the go-to choice during flights. Restaurants you usually wouldn’t visit are now on the menu. It isn’t bad that we lose bits of ourselves in the relationships we form. In fact, it’s a beautiful part of life. I have mannerisms and tastes that I’ve picked up from my wife that I love, and she’s certainly picked up some of mine (sorry babe!). It’s an amazing thing that only she and I share, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Traveling alone allows you to remember who you are by yourself and practice gratitude for who you’ve become. Taking a step away from the relationships that mean the world to you allows you to look at them from a distance and realize how incredibly important they are and how much they’ve changed you for the better.
2) Gain Self Confidence
Bravery isn’t required for solo travel, but you will undoubtedly gain more self-confidence by the end of your trip. Going into my first solo trip, I was worried about getting bored, lonely, or having something go wrong. However, I learned none of those things are true. Navigating airports, trains, Ubers, cabs, and language barriers may seem daunting while alone. Still, it’s really no different than if you were traveling with a partner or group.
You’ll quickly find that you can do everything you need to do on your own without the help of anyone else, and although they are relatively minor things, you will still feel more confident. You’ll see that you can be effective in whatever situation arises, and there’s no need to have a group or another person to rely on. You are enough.
3) Meet Interesting People
If I had to place myself somewhere on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being very introverted and 10 being very extroverted, I’d confidently put myself at 5. I am happy to meet new people and talk the night away if the conversation is interesting. I am also just as happy to read a book or listen to music on a nice walk alone. Before heading off on my first solo trip, I was worried about meeting new people. I was sure my more introverted tendencies would kick in when traveling alone.
I was wrong.
If you love traveling enough to go alone, you are in luck. That’s because everyone you meet that is traveling alone also loves travel! Conversations are immediately interesting and stimulating because they naturally gravitate towards travel, a topic all parties love. I’ve learned more about the world and the interesting people in it simply by talking to like-minded travelers. While many people assume that means you have to go to the bars or randomly approach strangers, I’m here to tell you it’s way easier than that.
The trick is simply to DO something. Go on a guided food tour, try a snorkeling trip, attend a conference you are interested in or volunteer. Meeting people is natural if you go try things you are interested in. You’ll meet people you know are interested in the same thing, making conversation easier than ever. I have friends in London, New York, Boston, the Caribbean, and more, simply from being open to a conversation while solo traveling. Some of the most interesting people I’ve ever talked to have been people I met while traveling alone.
4) Get Lost In The Moment
There’s something about walking down a London Street in the rain that will never get old for me. My wife and I both adore London and visit at least every other year. However, this past year I traveled there alone, and my senses were running on overdrive. The rainy reflections off the glass-covered buildings in Canary Wharf, the sounds of the busy footsteps of morning commuters crossing the south quay footbridge, the smell of fresh coffee each morning on my way to the tube… I was so much more immersed in the experience of being in London.
When traveling with others, it’s easy to fall into the trap of talking about things that aren’t happening. It’s easy to get pulled out of the NOW. Where do you want to get lunch? What should we do tomorrow? Remember the last time we were here? It’s natural to converse while going about your day, but those conversations often pull you out of the moment. When traveling alone, you have no choice but to be fully immersed in your environment, and it’s a beautiful experience.
When I return to London with my wife again, I will have an even deeper appreciation for both her and the city.
This is one of the most popular reasons travelers opt to travel by themselves. When you travel alone, you have complete autonomy to spend your days and nights however you see fit. Want to try out a restaurant on the other side of town? Too tired from a packed day and want to order room service? Do it!
If you’ve ever traveled with a group (or even just one other person), you’ve probably disagreed on some aspect of the trip at some point. I’ll refrain from coming up with any specific examples, but there have certainly been times during trips with others when I felt like I was wasting precious time that could be used exploring something more interesting. Traveling alone means you can do what you want when you want. You can see and do everything you set out to do without negotiating the day away with anyone else.
Bonus Tip: This particular benefit of solo travel doesn’t have to be exclusive to traveling alone. If you are traveling with a partner or group, start the trip with the rule that no one has to do anything they don’t want to, and everyone is free to separate and do things they are more interested in. This is actually one of the best ways to get the best of both worlds when it comes to solo travel vs. traveling with others.
What Are You Waiting For?
2023 is right around the corner, and your next solo trip is waiting. As the world continues to open back up to normal tourism, the options are becoming more numerous than they have been in years. Solo travel is a great way to get out and see all the things you want to see in this world without waiting for others to come with you. See what you want to see, do what you want to do, and come back with incredible stories to share.
Traveler Alert: Don’t Forget Travel Insurance For Your Next Trip!
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com