In the summer of 2013, I went on a minimalism spree, packed up all my things, broke into my savings account, leased a car in Europe, and went on a six-month trip alone. Like most stories of self-discovery and awakenings, one day I realized my life was passing me by, and I’ve pushed things aside thinking I would one day get around to doing it.
I’ve always dreamed of backpacking throughout Europe after I graduated from college. Ten years later I was still dreaming about it. Then something snapped. I was done dreaming. I was going to Europe, and nothing could have stopped me. Off I went and alone by myself.
It was very unnerving at. First, I have traveled nowhere alone before, let alone for half a year in a place where I knew no one. In hindsight, I could have planned the trip better. I had no real plans, just a bunch of scribbles on a notebook and few dots on Google maps. I would let the wind take me where it flowed. Looking back, traveling solo, was the best decision I ever made in my life.
Here’s why I recommend traveling solo:
1 – You only plan for yourself
Traveling solo, you only have to worry about your agenda and need not work around anybody else’s schedule. That means you can be more spontaneous and be more flexible. It can be a challenge to coordinate with others, and if their agenda doesn’t match yours, you must do things that are not necessarily what you want to do to be considerate.
When you travel alone, you do not have to please anyone but yourself. When I go, I have every intent on taking great photos, and that usually means working with what the natural surroundings give me. I have to wait for the right light, go to a better place, or wait around for the perfect moment. That would drive somebody insane if they’ve had to follow me around gallivanting for the ideal shot.
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2 – You are your own great company
You would be surprised at how enjoyable solitude can be. Constantly being surrounded by people, noise, and always being “on” doesn’t give your brain a chance to rest. Being alone gives your mind to reboot and revitalize itself. Solitude makes concentration easier and allows you to discover yourself and find your purpose.
3 – It’s easier to meet new people
If you’re an extrovert, traveling alone should be easy for you to meet locals and make new friends. But if you’re an introvert like me, you’re forced to come out of your comfort zone when you travel alone. You’re likely to approach and talk to complete strangers out of necessity, and it will feel natural. Whether you’re couch-surfing, staying at hostels, on the train, and on the bus. You’ll meet complete strangers, you will have to interact with them, and you’ll become accustomed to it, improving your social skills.
4 – It builds your confidence
Traveling makes you a better person, but traveling alone makes you a remarkable person. The sense of empowerment gained from not needing anyone else is a significant boost to your confidence. I don’t know how often I’ve heard from other travelers I’ve met that it takes a certain amount of “cojones” to travel around the continent of Europe by myself. You get extra creds and respect from traveling solo; people admire those who go alone.
5 – It improves your decision-making skills
You’re completely alone. A master of your destiny. Each decision is made only by you and just for you. Nobody’s there to guide you but yourself. My decision-making skill was sorely lacking before my solo trip. Always second-guessing myself instead of just going for it. Traveling solo drives you to make quicker and more robust decisions.
6 – Absolutely No drama
Traveling solo is like being single, no show. No, hurt feelings and no tip-toeing around anybody’s fragile emotions. I’ve gone with an ex before were the minor thing that shouldn’t even matter quickly grew into a blazing fire that made the trip unbearable. There’s nothing worse than traveling with somebody who doesn’t want to be in the same room with you or who wants to poke one of your eyeballs out with a fork.
7 – You learn more about yourself
I’ve learned more about myself in the six months I’ve been in Europe than all the years I’ve been on this planet. My goals have become more evident. My purpose is more sincere. I found out about what I wanted out of life and how I want to live my life. It’s like having a Eureka moment over and over again.
8 – More Adventures!
When you travel alone, it’s one big giant adventure that will spawn mini ones, often good and sometimes not so good. Most often, unscripted experiences, like the one time I nearly got devoured by an army of rabid goats, or that time when I got detained for drugs in Norway, or even that time when I accidentally ordered raw steak.
9 – It’s The Ultimate Freedom
You do what you want when you want, whatever you want, wherever you want, whoever you want. But you know what I mean. It’s all about you and nobody but you. There will be no comprises. No drama. No Regrets. You’re a master of your destiny.
Traveling alone is not just a journey to places, it’s a journey to your soul. It’s a journey to find yourself and who you indeed are. So if you can’t see a travel companion or have doubts, don’t even second guess yourself, go! The rewards you reap may be higher than the places you discover.
Have you traveled solo?