Sunday, June 16, 2013

6 Awesome Things About Travelling Alone

In lieu of my recent post about shifting to solo travel, I thought it very apropos to write about the good points of travelling alone. And there are many, despite the adjustment period required in getting to that point might take.

You answer to NO ONE
Fairy Stream in Mui Ne, Vietnam
Sometimes you just want to do what you want to do, without asking if it's OK, or finding a more suitable time to do it, or knowing that the person doing it with you has no interest in whatever attraction or site you've dragged them to. Not to mention, if there's somewhere you have absolutely no interest in going (or feigning interest in), you don't have to go. It can be quite liberating to wake up in the morning and know you can do (or not do) whatever it is YOU want - and the debate or discussion stops there.

You can be cranky
Let's face it, as exciting and fun as travel is, it can take its toll on you (or at least it does on me) and when that happens, I get cranky. But when you travel with a partner, it can be tough to show your cranky side (we all do it, but how much of it you show can be the difference between an OK day and a terrible one for both of you). Travelling solo and feeling like crawling back under the covers or having a quiet day of wandering to ease the bad mood? Go for it.

There's an added element of excitement
Travelling as a couple (or with a friend) can be great but for me, it was always easier to rely on my partner to step in a make a decision when I didn't want to, to find our way when we took a wrong turn (or several), to help me feel more comfortable. But when you travel alone, everything is up to you and not having a safety net of a fellow traveller, although scary at first, is exciting. When I landed in Paris alone, when I landed in Barcelona alone, when I landed in Copenhagen alone (with no idea where I was going), I was scared but also totally exhilarated. The idea of "I can do it - alone!" is exciting no matter where you're travelling.

It can be easier to meet people
Meeting a new "friend" in Dalat, Vietnam
Though you might think that solo travellers blend into the wallpaper, being alone in a bar, hotel lobby or hostel common area can make it easier for people to approach you and for you to reach out to others. Travelling with someone makes it easy to be in your own cocoon of two that from the outside, appears somewhat closed off to people you night encounter. Whereas, a solo traveller sipping a beer on a patio, might be easier to say hello to.

It forces you out of your comfort zone
You know that scary aspect of solo travel I mentioned, it has another benefit (yes, fear can be a good thing). Travelling alone pushes you outside of your comfort zone. Lost? Find your way. Not sure where to stay or for how long? Figure it out. Feeling overwhelmed? Learn how to handle the ups and downs of travel without a safety net. That might sound harsh, but the more you accomplish on your own, the more you prove to yourself how much you can actually do.

It helps you learn about yourself
There's nothing like a solo trip (whether a week or a month or more) to teach you a few new things about yourself. When you travel alone, you're forced to think on your feet and make decisions without the luxury of someone to bounce ideas off of, which can show you new things about not only how you think, but what you  like, what bugs you and what makes you happiest. Most importantly, solo travel can teach you just how strong you can be. Of course, it can also teach you a few things you might not like about yourself, but that too, is an important part of that whole "life" learning curve that never stops.

*Note, pictures above are not from solo trips (I don't have too many of those...yet).

What's you favourite thing about solo travel? I'd love to hear about it. 

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