After spending a number of trips exploring both the United States and abroad alone, I am always surprised by how horrified people are at the thought of traveling solo. While I enjoy traveling with others, whether family or friends, heading to places old and new is incredible when done alone. These are the top 5 reasons why I enjoy the experience.
1. You become decisive
Everyone knows those instances when you head out on the town with friends and you just follow the crowd or make compromises on what to do because of other’s desires. When you are alone, every step you take has to have some purpose. There is no one to follow, no need more important than yours, and no conversation to distract your decision-making process.
Particularly when going to new places, this becomes an important benefit since it means you get to see all of the sights highest on your list, have more time to see sights, and have a more vested experience with each stop. Overall, you get to make the trip you want and in turn the trip becomes focused on the location, not on the experience of being with others.
2. You can decompress
Our society is filled with activity, social media notifications, constant conversation, and overall social pressures and stimulation. After a few days of turning my phone off and traveling solo, my senses immediately begin to feel more easily stimulated and my mind feels freer.
Studies back up the fact that taking a step back from technology and stimulation is beneficial for mental awareness and improving personal health. There is no better way to decompress than to swap this artificial stimulation with natural stimulation from a new environment while traveling.
3. You can focus on the culture
No matter where you go, the location has its own unique culture. Even Los Angeles versus San Diego are drastically different, despite being 3 hours apart. When you go to a new place with familiar faces, it is easy to keep up your native culture and fall back on the easiness of that interaction.
However, when you are alone you will find you talk to locals more and are more attentive to the variety of things going on around you. It can sometimes get quiet while traveling alone so it is usually best to stay active and explore, as well as overcome the fear of saying “hi” to new people.
4. You will become more self-aware
Tastes too frequently are influenced by others. Going to an art museum can be a game of chicken to wait for someone to say if something is brilliant or idiotic. Listening to music can lead to hesitant opinions at the risk of saying the wrong thing. When you see a new place all by yourself, there is no one to alter your true perspective.
As you gaze at a sunset, explore new cultural experiences, and expand your horizons, only your opinion will matter. Due to the lack of discussion with others, you will begin contemplating why you likes things and put together a better understanding of your own tastes.
5. You will find the hidden treasures
Whenever I travel with others I find myself caught up with walking at the same pace as others and unable to divert into random detours. Also, when I talk to others I am not looking at the nooks and crannies of the streets and rooms. As a result, solo-traveling typically leads me to taking note of more hidden murals or street art, finding cool hole-in-the-places, and discovering more.
While it can be nice to just follow a routine with good friends to keep conversation along the way, sometimes travel means a search for the best and most authentic pieces of a cultural region. This is best done when your focus can be on that task and not on going with the flow of the group.
When you go to plan your next trip, maybe consider booking one ticket rather than two and seeing how the experience would be different by yourself. Just make sure to either invest in a selfie-stick or gain the courage to talk to others if you want pictures of yourself in the surroundings.