I’m sitting in my hotel room in Mostar, Bosnia, wishing I was home, wishing I had just woken up from a decent night’s sleep in my own bed with Andy next to me. Instead I’ve just spent the night by myself on a mattress that’s too firm, and I’m not looking forward to hunting for lunch at one of dozens of mediocre restaurants in town. I especially don’t want to go outside because it’s 100F and OMG that’s too hot!
Benefits of solo travel
It’s totally true that traveling by yourself can be a wonderful thing.
Traveling alone gives you a huge confidence boost. It reminds you that you’re stronger and more capable than you think you are. Because YOU are handling everything on your own. You’re relying on yourself to read a map and get to where you’re going, to choose and organize activities, to fumble through a language barrier.
And it’s so nice sometimes to do things on your own schedule and not have to worry about what your travel companion wants to do. You can choose to sit at a cafe for hours with a book and a drink if you don’t feel like sightseeing that day. You can skip the museums if they don’t interest you. The schedule (or lack of schedule) is entirely up to you.
Solo travel can be incredibly liberating, and I highly recommend everyone try it at least a couple of times.
Solo travel is like eating your vegetables
That doesn’t mean it’s always easy. It doesn’t mean solo travel is a barrel of laughs or something I get all excited about every time I book a trip. Traveling by myself has its benefits, but it’s also a lot of work.
Always having to make all the decisions can get old. Yes, it’s one of the perks of solo travel, being able to do exactly what I want without having to compromise with someone else. But sometimes I just want to defer to someone else on things like where we should eat or finding the hotel when there are no street signs.
I also know that I want to see more places than Andy does, so sometimes I have to choose between going by myself or not going. So I choose going by myself. But most of the time, I’d still rather have Andy or a friend traveling with me. Someone to share the experience with and chat with over a meal.
I know I need the good things solo travel brings me. It’s like eating your vegetables. I’d rather eat a giant plate of French fries, but veggies are good for me, and I know it’s worth it in the long run.
I’ll keep traveling alone and so should you
And so I’ll keep booking solo trips. Roughly half of my round the world trip was solo. Last year I wen to Cyprus and Kosovo by myself. This year I was in Madrid for a few days on my own before the Spanish immersion program. I also just got back from a solo trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. Andy and I will be taking a trip together starting the end of August, but then I’ll do another solo trip in October when he goes to a board game festival.
As Andy and I continue to work on our income so that we’ll have more freedom and flexibility in our lives, I hope we can travel more and see more of the world. But I think I’ll always plan at least one solo trip per year because I’m learning I really need that time.
It’s important to still have that independence and to remind myself of how strong I really am. Even if it’s a struggle sometimes. The benefits of solo travel outweigh the negatives. Even if the benefits don’t come until after the trip. Even if you find yourself thinking, in the middle of your solo adventure, why am I here?
So yes, sometimes solo travel sucks. Do it anyway.
You might also enjoy:
- On Living a Non-Traditional Life
- How I Make Money Online and Travel Up to 4 Months a Year
- Knowing When to Cut Your Losses
- Be a Contradiction