I prefer to go shopping alone. The reason? When I shop alone, I am free to spend as much/little time as I want in each store. Traveling alone is very similar.
1. You can go wherever you want. Whenever you want. First and foremost, this was probably my favorite perk of all. Since I like to do things on my own time, I loved being able to change my plans at a moment’s notice without discussing it with anyone. Since I was working with my own budget, I could add on an extra beach day or skip a guided tour whenever I wanted to.
2. You can go on adventures you might not ordinarily take. Following the first benefit, you are free to do anything. Even if it’s something you might not typically do. No one is there to judge you, and you’ll probably never see those people again so who cares what they think. For example, I went on a spur-of-the-moment Vespa trip around Rome with some guy I didn’t even know. I didn’t have to discuss it with anyone or face anyone’s disapproval.
3. It will boost your confidence. I was talking with a friend the other night about eating alone. He said something along the lines of “When I eat alone, I’m worried other people think I’m a loser with no friends. But when I see other people eating alone, I don’t think anything of it. I realize I’m being paranoid for nothing.” And that is so true. I enjoy being by myself, but eating alone was definitely something to get used to. When I traveled alone, I got used to it and realized “I know I’m awesome! I’m the only company I need right now.”
4. You meet tons of people. If you don’t enjoy being alone all the time, traveling alone is perfect for that. This may seem counter-productive, but since you are alone you will want to meet other people to hang out with. Also, since you are alone, you are more approachable. Chances are, strangers will approach you and want to meet you too! Especially other travelers. Note: Staying at a hostel is an ideal way to meet people.
5. You challenge yourself. I am very geographically challenged. I could get lost in a cardboard box. Traveling throughout other countries by myself forced me to figure out how to navigate my way through airports, train stations, metro stations and more. Sometimes I didn’t even have a map and the signs were in another language. I was forced to figure it out on my own, rather than relying on someone else — besides that one time in Italy where an Italian guy explained what metro I needed to get on. He didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Italian, so he ended up leading me to the correct metro. Bless him!
6. Locals are willing to help you. I learned this from personal experience. If you’re traveling alone, you probably don’t look like the typical “obnoxious American tourist.” And if you’re solo, you will probably make the extra effort to take in the culture and meet people.
7. You may even look like a local. This was my goal when traveling around Spain and Italy. I wanted to fit in, so I wore casual European clothes and avoided using maps as much as possible. It must have worked, because in Barcelona and Rome I was asked for directions by “tourists.” I’m a pretty fast walker and I was pretty tan, so I guess I can see why they thought I was a local, but either way it was flattering. Once they heard my American accent they were surprised, but luckily I just happened to know where they were trying to get to.
8. NO DRAMA. No fights (unless you choose to). Since you’ll be with strangers, the chances of getting in a fight are pretty low. If I met other travelers that were dramatic, I was able to leave them and go do something else. Good vibes only.
9. Surprise VIP treatment. Speaking of good vibes, you may get surprise VIP treatment. For example, I signed up for a bike tour around Florence. Only myself and one other guy signed up for it, so we had the guide’s undivided attention. We were able to stay longer at any monuments we wanted. I got to ask her in-depth questions about what I was interested in, like calcio storico fiorentino.
10. Free stuff. This may not happen all of the time, but it happened to me. I often got free wine/alcohol wherever I went. I had pasta and wine at a small local restaurant in Florence that was everything you would imagine an Italian restaurant to be. The servers were a bunch of loud, friendly, dark haired men. They were very kind and didn’t charge me. Being a girl probably helped, but still. Yay free stuff!
Tip: When traveling alone (or traveling in general) always write in a travel journal. Since you’re the only one who will bring your memories home with you, you’ll be glad to have your journal to reminisce!
If you’ve traveled alone before, share your favorite parts in the comments below!