“We travel initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel next, to find ourselves. We travel to open up our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world… and we travel, in essence, to become young fools again — to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.” – Pico Iyer
“I want to travel” is a phrase that can be found in diaries, on to-do lists, in yearbooks underneath student photos, and in bios on social media sites. Whether your goal is to go on a cross-country trip, explore the Grand Canyon, see the Colosseum in Rome, lay on a beach in Bermuda or go skiing in the Alps, traveling is something being crossed off of bucket lists around the globe. The mystery of other cultures, foods, languages and sites is something to be infinitely explored.
While we often plan these trips with family and friends, many benefits to traveling alone often go unexplored.
In fact, traveling alone may be the single best catalyst for personal growth, and here’s why:
1.You’ll get to enjoy “me” time
Too often, our lives become hectic. Between work or school, family and friends, extracurricular activities and significant others, we all reached the point of craving a little peace and quiet. There are multiple physical and psychological benefits of spending time alone. It can help you reboot your brain and unwind, improve concentration, and it allows you to think deeper, which can help you work through your problems or find your own voice. Sometimes those 10 minutes in the shower just aren’t enough. Taking a trip on your own allows you to focus solely on yourself — your wants, needs, feelings — and it helps clear your mind and put things into perspective.
2. You get to control your itinerary
Traveling with family and friends can be a blast, but it may seem like you almost always get stuck doing something that you don’t want to do. When you’re traveling with a group, everyone has a say in the itinerary. What time to wake up, where to eat, what sights to see, what activities to pay for… You can easily miss out on significant parts of the trip due to the stress of making decisions and planning out every move to make the majority happy. When you’re able to control your own itinerary, you can make sure that you don’t miss out on a single sight, restaurant or activity. You’ll be doing what YOU want to do, 24/7.
3. You’ll meet new people
Perhaps one of the best parts of traveling — you get the opportunity to meet new people. Traveling alone to somewhere you’re not familiar with can be terrifying, especially if you’re making your way to a different country. But if the separate part scares you, just think of all the people you’ll meet along the way. Every time you stop to get coffee, duck into a shop, stand in line for train tickets or check out a band playing at a local bar, you’ll be surrounded by people from different places, with different stories to tell. You can meet some of the most interesting people while on the road, and who knows, they might even have great suggestions for you on where to go next!
4. Your experiences will mean more
Having the opportunity to travel is great, regardless of the circumstances. However, somehow, being the only one of your family and friends to have gone somewhere amazing, have seen something incredible, or tasted something delicious, allows you to revel in the experience just a little bit more. Knowing that you not only did it on your own, but you came back with some unforgettable stories to tell, making the trip that much more meaningful to you.
5. It will boost your confidence
There are definitely going to be people who think you’re crazy when they find out you’re planning to go alone. There are those who won’t approve, family members who are worried about your safety or friends who joke that you’ll never survive on your own, but you can do it. You can absolutely do it. Forget about proving yourself to those people. A trip alone is about proving to yourself just how strong and capable you are. There’s nothing like a solo adventure to boost your confidence and remind yourself of how much you can achieve.
6. It will make you more independent
Speaking of confidence, another amazing trait you can gain from traveling alone is independence. We often get so comfortable in our day-to -day lives. We travel the same roads every day, go to the same grocery store, the same restaurants, see the same people… and it’s easy to get stuck in a routine. Finding yourself outside of that routine can be scary. Taking a trip by yourself forces you to make all the decisions, figure out your own directions, be your own tour guide, and deal with your own problems if they arise. The feeling of being independent is unlike any other. You no longer feel the need to rely on someone else, you know you are capable of solving any problem, and you are completely aware that you can do it your way, whatever that may be!
7. You’ll become a better traveler
Maps, directions, trains, planes and automobiles. Who can keep track of all this stuff? The more you travel, the better at it you will become. You’ll know what time the trains run, when to arrive at the airport before your flight, how to catch a cab, rent a bike… You’ll become a pro, which will cut down on much of the stress of traveling.
8. You can put yourself first
You get loads of alone time, you get to control your itinerary… this trip is about YOU. You won’t have to worry about switching up activities to make it fair for the group, or going to a seafood restaurant that you hate because your friend really wants to go. You control your trip, 100%. If you were planning on Thai food but suddenly feel hungry for a juicy burger, you can head back to that awesome hole-in-a-wall place you passed earlier, without thinking twice or even feeling a twinge of guilt. Maybe you’re staying at a resort and they have an amazing spa where you want to get a massage, or you want to try snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. The world is yours.
9. You’ll experience freedom and spontaneity
So far this trip has you feeling confident and independent. What about freedom and spontaneity? You might even think planning a trip alone is a little crazy. However, this is your chance to be spontaneous! It is your chance to do something that you would not normally do, your chance to go somewhere that you’ve always dreamed of going. And once you are there, once you step one foot out of a car, train or plane, you’ll feel it… freedom.
10. You’ll find the answer to an important question
“We travel initially, to lose ourselves, and we travel next, to find ourselves.”
While the reason you planned this trip may have been to find your independence, feel free and have some alone time, your experiences along the way have the potential to completely change the way you view the world, and even the way you see yourself. Traveling can open up a side of yourself that you never even knew existed. You’ll see amazing things, meet unforgettable people, hear interesting languages and taste food that you never knew existed. You just may awaken an adventurous and curious part of yourself, and in time figure out just who you are and what you want in life. You’ll travel to explore the unknown, and along the way, you’ll find you.